The original Ogre Battle was a novel combination of real-time strategy and RPG elements with plenty of replay value owing to its random elements and multiple endings. Tactics Ogre, first released a few years after, continued that philosophy but changed the combat up into a turn-based tactical system. But does it prove to be a worthy sequel to a cult classic, or does it simply pale in comparison?
Ogre Battle was a low-key hit on the Super Nintendo; though released in very limited quantities (reportedly only 25,000 copies were released in North America), it won acclaim for its open-ended design, numerous endings and the sheer amount of customizability the player could have for units - not just equipment and class, but they could recruit virtually every unit they came up against in the game to their party. From dragons to zombies to vampires to werewolves to the Pumpkin Mage, you certainly weren't wanting for options.
Tactics Ogre, like all of Matsuno's works, is one that shows a love for storytelling and the mechanical elements in every facet - the narrative is a dark and complex one, the gameplay pulls no punches with its difficulty, and it's a very deep, complex experience that will require a lot of experimentation and fine-tuning to find your niche in. Still, it's an ordeal you're glad to undertake because it's all so well-done; his passion shines through and gets you invested in the world he's weaved, ensuring that you want to puzzle out a road to success and see your way to all of the possible story paths and endings it has to offer. Definitely not an ideal choice for beginners to the genre, but those who want to see an intricate tactical experience and some finely-detailed lore and worldbuilding will find a lot to enjoy in Tactics Ogre.
Developer: Quest, Square Enix
Publisher: Quest, Riverhillsoft, Atlus, Square Enix
Platform: Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, Playstation 1, Playstation Portable, Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, PC
Released: 1995, 1996, 1998, 2010, 2022
Recommended Version: The 2022 rerelease ("Reborn") is a marked improvement over the previous versions, adding in voiceover, revamping the UI and overhauling the leveling system so that individual characters - not classes - have levels, which greatly cuts down on grinding. The level is capped but will gradually increase as the story goes on (plus you can still train up weapon/magic skills in training battles), and you also earn and equip skills more organically in this version, not having to grind a ton of TP to unlock everything. Bump that version up half a star.