The DioField Chronicle
“The DioField Chronicle includes a whole lot of setup for potential sequels, however it does a solid job of laying down the correct foundation to make that work long-term.”
- Interesting personal conflicts
- Tactical battle system
- Thoughtful sidequests
- Compelling groundwork for a series
- Enemy and mission variety is lacking
- Animations are janky
- Progression and pacing issues
Square Enix has recently been keen to publish more middle-tier Japanese games, including the likes of Valkryie Elysium, Tactics Ogre: Reborn, and Harvestella, all of that are coming out inside mere weeks of one another. The publisher appears to be all-in on recent IPs, bolstering its reliable roster of surefire RPG hits. The DioField Chronicle is a crucial a part of that strategy.
The DioField Chronicle is a recent IP from developer Lancarse and publisher Square Enix that blends a political war story with real-time strategy combat. It doesn’t appear to be a one-off deal for Square Enix; the whole lot from the sport’s story to its characters screams setup for a possible sequel. This might be the start of Square Enix’s next big IP, as long as players are willing to be early adopters.
Despite some missteps along the way in which, The DioField Chronicle creates a solid foundation for a possible series with its engaging battle system and interesting solid of characters. If that is the beginning of a recent franchise, its future can only get brighter from here.
The RPG’s story takes place on the Island of DioField, which is wealthy with deposits of the natural resource Jade. Different nations are occupied with Jade, including the Trovelt-Schoevian Empire, the Rowtale Alliance, and the Kingdom of Alletain. When the Alliance is defeated in war by the Empire, the latter turns its sights to Alletain. A mercenary group, the Blue Foxes, works closely with Alletain to handle various requests from the royal government, which incorporates pushing back against the Imperial forces. The 4 heads of the Blue Foxes are Andrias Rhondarson, Fredret Lester, Iscarion Colchester, and Waltaquin Redditch.
What makes the Blue Foxes interesting are the ideals that every of the heads holds, and the way they conflict with each other. For instance, Lester believes that only a king is capable of lead commoners to prosperity, while Colchester is an advocate of democracy. During missions that require quelling class rebellions and riots, they butt heads over whether commoners looting an area justifies using force.
The way in which the story is told is analogous to Triangle Strategy, one other Square Enix-published strategy game that launched this 12 months. Between story missions, there’s a narrator that explains major plot events with book-like illustrations. While this approach is more telling quite than showing, it contrasts with the actual cutscenes that give attention to the dynamics between the heads of the Blue Foxes.
I’ve bought in enough to see how future stories throughout the DioField universe could construct on them.
Afterward within the story, the political tensions between Alletain and the Empire take a back seat in favor of the interpersonal quarrels between the Blue Foxes’ heads. Certain plot twists and irreconcilable differences between them drive the plot forward and keep it engaging at a more personal level, versus a grander lore one.
At certain points, some characters have a falling out with one another. Despite these conflicts, the characters ensure that the player knows that this isn’t the last time you’ll see them—this definitely screams sequel bait. That may be a bit of annoying since it ends in some unresolved plot threads. Nonetheless, the characters have cogent reasons for being disillusioned by what the Blue Foxes group has develop into and I’ve bought in enough to wish to see how future stories throughout the DioField universe could construct on them.
Fire Emblem: Blue Foxes
DioField’s gameplay consists of real-time strategy battles and conversations with party members outside of combat. During missions, you may deploy a complete of eight units, 4 of that are the predominant units you can control. The opposite 4 are subunits that don’t participate directly, but you may call on their support and special skills.
I do wish that there was more variety within the forms of enemy units and mission objectives.
It’s an interesting battle system that required me to be tactical about where I sent my units. I could either focus all 4 on a single goal or split them between different enemies. Additional rewards (skill points, materials, etc). are earned by completing different side objectives during missions, reminiscent of stopping any allies from being knocked out, finding the treasure chest situated on the battlefield, and ending the fight inside a certain closing date.
I do wish that there was more variety within the forms of enemy units and mission objectives. While there are escort missions every from time to time, they’re only a few in number and most missions boil all the way down to just eliminating each enemy unit. Even so, the cinematic that plays when activating special skills is a treat. Each character class has an ultimate skill that transitions right into a cutscene. A private favorite is the Cavalier’s Lance Strike that grabs the enemy, launches them into the air, and slams them into the bottom, causing spikes from the earth to protrude and damage other enemies throughout the attack’s radius.
Upgrading weapons and skills is a comparatively straightforward process. The usual reward for completing missions is gold, which may be used to boost certain facilities to supply access to more weapons and skills. The progression is a bit lopsided, though. Within the early and middle parts of the story, I sometimes felt like I wasn’t strong enough and needed to grind just a few side missions to afford recent gear. Nonetheless, by the point I reached the top game, I used to be swimming in additional gold than I knew learn how to spend.
The side missions themselves provide good characterization and backstories between Rhondarson and the plethora of other party members. They’re harking back to Fire Emblem’s Support Conversations or Persona’s Social Links. For instance, one side mission had me take down assassins that the church had hired because one among my party members was a defected member. One other party member, hungry for revenge, desired to massacre the complete population of a fishing village because their old political enemies resided there, despite a few of them turning over recent leaves and even starting families.
A bit dull, innit
The members of the Blue Foxes reside in a base called Elm Camp, and that’s where almost all the side missions and conversations happen. The realm jogs my memory of the Garreg Mach Monastery hub in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, except that Elm Camp feels much less alive on account of it being a low-key mercenary base quite than a full-fledged school with teachers. There’s only the minimum variety of NPCs needed for things like shops and upgradeable facilities.
The DioField Chronicle is a promising recent IP that has many good ideas anchored by an interesting battle system and character dynamics.
It doesn’t help that the sport’s color palette in Elm Camp is quite muted. I don’t expect the characters to have toothpaste-colored hair like Fire Emblem Engage’s recent protagonist. That might clash with the general gritty tone of the sport, but I feel like some brighter colours here and there would have helped make it feel more visually distinct.
While I really like the character portraits, drawn in the gorgeous and distinct Final Fantasy style by Isamu Kamikokuryo, the 3D character models and animations outside of battle could have used a bit more work. Their faces look oddly porcelain and doll-like, most notably during cutscenes. And Rhondarson’s walking and running animations around Elm Camp appear to be he at all times has a pebble stuck in his shoe or he has to quickly find the closest bathroom.
Even with those artistic shortcomings, The DioField Chronicle is a promising recent IP that has many good ideas anchored by an interesting battle system and character dynamics. It’s very clear that Lancarse desires to expand the sport’s world and lore, and there’s definitely potential here. If a more polished sequel addresses a few of the gameplay and progression issues, then the Blue Foxes’ next adventure can be one to look out for.
The DioField Chronicle was reviewed on PS4.