- Developer: Odd Bug Studio
- Publisher: United Label
- Release Date: 17/09/2021
- Price: £21.99 / $25.00
- Review code provided by United Label
Introducing: Tails of Iron Review
Rats. These gentle, often misunderstood creatures are perhaps the most unlikely of video game protagonists. Tails of Iron bucks this trend however and casts you in the staring role as king of the vermin. There’s plenty to fall in love with in this game: the simplistic but satisfying RPG mechanics, the beautiful hand drawn animation style, but perhaps the greatest compliment I can offer to Tails of Iron is that it does quite a lot with very little. Sorry that I’m being intentionally cryptic. Just think of it as an incentive to read the rest of this review. Suffice to say, for now, that Tails of Iron is a tale worthy of your time.
Tails of the quite expected
Well it’s not the most original plot, but it provides a compelling motive. You play as Redgi, heir to the rat throne. Some decades prior, rat kind threw off their oppressive frog overlords and banished them to the forgotten wastes. They then set about building a thriving community, complete with little medieval castles and so forth, and thus a kingdom was born. Shortly after your father chooses you as his successor, the kingdom is attacked by the invading frog army and your father is killed. The kingdom lies in ruins, your father is dead and your people (sorry rats) are being tortured and murdered. It’s up to you to fight back against the froggy horde, defeat the terrible Greenwart and restore honour to your once proud nation.
He ain’t heavy – unless you want him to be
Being a rat, Redgi is an agile little fella. He’s quite nimble on his feet, can jump up high and can dodge out of the way of telegraphed attacks with relative ease. That is, of course, until you start weighing down the poor little fellow with armour and weapons. You see, there’s a wonderful mechanic built into the foundations of tails of iron that subtlety allows you to vary your agility, defense, and attack strength to suit your own playstyle. The best thing about this mechanic is that it can be adjusted throughout the game to best adapt to the enemies you are facing at that time. Need to take out a slow plodding tank of a frog? Then choose a weapon with high DPS, and light armour so that you can easily dodge his painfully slow attacks. Facing a quicker but less intimidating opponent? Then throw on the armour and you’ll easily outlast those feeble but speedy attacks. I much prefer this temporary type of specialisation to the more traditional choice of a stereotypical archetype at the beginning of the game, which you are stuck with throughout.
One trick pony
Tails of Iron plays out like your typical 2D RPG/adventure game. Make your way from one objective to the next, while dispatching frogs, mosquitoes, and other nasties that dare to stand in your way. Along the way you’ll pick up new weapons and armour, to customise your attacks, as well as foo,d which can be crafted into nutritious meals by your brother the chef. Combat requires spilt second timing and precise positioning to land a blow on your foes after their, hopefully, unsuccessful attack. The old dodge roll comes into play on many an occasion, and so too does the parry and counter attack. It’s tried and tested, simple, but rewarding gameplay that becomes second nature after a while. Tricky to pull off, but oh so satisfying when you do, particularly against some of the more challenging bosses later on into the game. As fun as the combat is though, my excitement did wane after a time. Sadly there isn’t much else to the gameplay to keep me entertained beyond that. This really is my only criticism with Tails of Iron. What is does, it does well, but there needs to be a little more variety to the gameplay besides that in my opinion.
The spare witcher project
I am loving the hand drawn art style in this game. There’s enough detail built into the characters, and the world surrounding them, for you to fully immerse yourself into the story and feel genuine empathy towards the rodent denizens of the land. This is an impressive feat indeed, given that not one of the characters you come across communicates in words, neither written or spoken. Instead you’ll have to interpret what they are saying from a speech bubble containing a pictorial representation of the point they are trying to get across to you. Sounds limited? Perhaps, but there is another way in which the dialog is presented to you, the player. And that of course is by an actual narrator, voiced by none other than Doug Cockle, Mr. “Geralt of Rivia” himself. Doug, puts on his very best Geralt performance for every line of spoken narration, which gives the impression that the whole game exists as a storybook, hidden away somewhere in the Witcher that Geralt picked up and read one day. Being an avid fan of the Witcher 3 myself, I got a great kick out of this relatively minor indie game picking up the voice talent of one of the most iconic voiceovers in recent video game history. It’s pretty evident that Odd Bug Studio are similarly impressed as they make no secret of the fact of Doug’s involvement in their official overview of the game; rightly so! His deep gravelly voice of the reluctant hero and the world weary, inflections on each sentence leave you wanting more every time.
Conclusion: Simple but effective
I really liked Tails of Iron. It’s a straight to the point, no nonsense, sort of a video game that doesn’t outstay its welcome. The combat is adaptive and responsive, the art direction is gorgeous and the story is compelling, albeit conventional. The story of a persecuted race rising up against their oppressive overlords does find new meaning however in this world of rats and frogs. Geralt, sorry Doug, does a fantastic job as the one and only voice actor in the game (did we really need another?). Really the only thing the game is missing would be some additions to the gameplay outside of the combat mechanics. Maybe a little light puzzle solving or some Metroidvania inspired backtracking with the addition of new abilities. Anything to just give me something to do other than combat. If you’re a fan of RPG-lite games, mastering high precision combat strategies or even if you just love the Witcher 3, then give this game a try.
- Highly rewarding combat mechanics
- Beautiful hand drawn art style
- Compelling plot
- Doug Cockle
- Not much variety to the gameplay besides combat