- Developer: Softstar Entertainment
- Publisher: eastasiasoft
- Release Date: 24/06/2021
- Price: £17.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by:
- Version reviewed: 1.0.1
Introducing: Empire of Angels IV Switch Review
Well, here it is! After having been available on PCs and mobile devices for a few years already, Empire of Angels IV releases on Nintendo’s hybrid system and other consoles this month. The, according to the publisher updated version, comes with better graphics and full voice acting in Mandarin. Let’s see if the turn-based strategy game can convince me of its merits.
We are in the land of Asgard, where the kingdoms of Valkyrie and Mentu have been at war for ages. An armistice was agreed upon some time ago, but there is no true peace. Also, a strange pestilence, called Namtar has the land in its grip. No one knows where it came from or how it started, but one thing is clear: This strange illness turns ordinary people into bloodthirsty monsters who then attack others. You find yourself as part of the Namtar Investigation Team to handle the outbreaks of this fever.
In the beginning, the team consists of just two members, the swordswoman Niya and an infantry unit going by the name of Leona. Worry not, in the course of the game you will be able to recruit further female characters. Apparently, Asgard is a place where only women exist. No, I have no idea how that works, but that’s the story here! Let’s just roll with it for the time being.
Been there, done that…
So, in true strategy game fashion you progress through the story by fighting battle after battle with cut scenes and dialogues in between to drive forward the narrative. Be victorious and more parts of the overworld will become accessible to you giving you the chance to practice by grinding for experience or resources, undertake side quests or get on with the story.
The battle mechanics of Empire of Angels IV remind me a bit of Fire Emblem, but only in the loosest sense. Contrary to the latter game series, the game under review does not have permadeath. A weapon triangle is as absent as a terrains’s influence on individual units. There is also no incentive to place units next to each other in battle. No friendship can be deepened that way.
Similar to Fire Emblem, you will see an overview of your action and its counter before you execute it. Speaking of actions, your characters have a default Attack action as well as different Skills depending on their class. Interestingly, all of your actions cost MP, even the basic attack. Don’t fret too much about this, as each character also recovers a set amount of MP after each turn. More powerful actions cost more MP and the recovery of it is not as plentiful as you’d wish for, so it is necessary to keep an eye on the MP bar of each character. Otherwise you’ll end up in tricky situations.
While we’re at it: There is no difficulty setting in the game. Instead, some of the quests have distinct winning conditions. For example, there might be an easy one like reaching a certain point in the map and a hard one like defeating all enemies and opening all chests. Whichever one condition you meet first, that’s the map cleared. Oh, and the hard conditions will have you thinking and fighting hard. On the other hand, the easy ones are ideal to follow along the story.
Before we turn to other matters, let us have a look at the class system. Empire of Angels IV has three basic classes: soldiers, clerics and archers. All of them have diverting unit trees, giving you a variety of sub-classes. You advance through these sub-classes in ranks by collecting merit points. Collect enough of them through battle rewards and you unlock the next rank. If you want to change a unit’s basic class, e.g. from an archer to cleric, you can do so in exchange for a few gold coins. Advancing through the sub-classes is also done by spending money. Keep one thing in mind, though: While you can freely switch basic classes (as long as you have the money) changing from one sub-class to another is not possible. Perhaps an example is required: Niya, your main character, is a swordsman (rank 1). Rank 2 offers warrior and knight. Once you advance to one of them, the other option is gone forever. Changing to a cleric is, however, still possible.
This system is well thought out and has some interesting options for your perusal. The idea to change classes to suit your battle requirements is a good one. Simply don’t forget that you need to have deep coffers to make use of it. (Or be prepared to grind for gold!)
No, you can’t pour sugar into my eyes!
Sometimes you can but wonder about design decisions. Empire of Angels IV is central to such a wonder. You see, the cutscene at the beginning as well as the characters’ conversations use a very pleasing anime/manga artstyle. There is a bit of fanservice, which should come as no surprise as the game is advertised as having an all-female cast. This design fits the game to a tee.
Strangely, most of the gameplay will expose you to a chibi artstyle. This is, per se, not a bad choice for a strategy or role-playing game. It’s colourful and cute to boot, especially the childish animations in battle. But all that contradicts the rather dark story. The chibi style is too light-hearted and contrasting to what the game is about. It feels so at odds, especially when both the characters’ chibi versions and the anime ones are visible on screen during conversations. It’s like the developers couldn’t make up their minds and lost focus. Both of the styles are nice individually, but their combination diminishes the whole.
I can’t complain about the pleasing soundtrack nor about the Mandarin voice acting though. Both get the job very well done.
I didn’t expect any problems from a game which, even if it received an HD upgrade, was originally created for mobile phones. Needless to say that Empire of Angels IV doesn’t disappoint technically but performs well both docked and handheld.
So, did Empire of Angels melt my heart? Well, not quite, unfortunately. On the plus side, even the basic mechanics are well thought out and offer a good strategic depth because of the skill tree. Also, the story is interesting and well written. On the other hand, however, the clash of the artstyles is off-putting and decidedly turned me away from the game. Writing and art should complement each other and not send out mixed messages.
- no permadeath
- simple battle mechanics
- choice of easy or hard winning conditions
- clash of the artstyles
- sometimes grinding is inevitable