JRPGs come in many different flavours and sizes in the video game industry. The most common JRPG in today's climate is the action RPG. We've seen this genre already, with Elden Ring and Team Ninja's Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty due out in 2023.
The other common type of JRPG is the tactical kind. The older Final Fantasy games featured turn-based combat, as did this year's release of Disgaea 6 Complete. Well, today, we review an unorthodox entry into the genre as The DioField Chronicle is a strategy RPG.
The DioField Chronicle has all of the usual tropes and features of a normal JRPG, but the combat system bears more resemblance to an RTS style of game. The combat sets this game apart from many others, and it's arguably the game's main strength.
The game takes place in the fictional world of Alletain. You take control of a mercenary group known as the 'Blue Foxes', whose goal is to fend off the invading forces of the Trovelt-Schoevian Empire. It's not going to be an easy task fighting the Empire because the bad guys have more resources and power compared to the Blue Foxes!
While most JRPGs offer a huge open-world environment for you to explore, The DioField Chronicle is different in a lot of ways in terms of its level design. Instead of one huge world to uncover, every battle you undertake is its own separate level.
Most of the levels in The DioField Chronicle are small squares that you have to navigate through to complete certain objectives. For example, to finish most levels in this game, you will have to kill every enemy you encounter. On one other level, I needed to escort a carriage to safety before the enemy forces destroyed it.
Aside from the levels you play on the battlefield, the player will also spend a lot of time in the good guy's home base. In the base of operations, you can shop to upgrade weapons, get new skills, replay old missions, or even undertake side missions.
The home base operates like a small town as it features all that you need in order to prepare yourself for the battles ahead. The more side-quests you complete, the more money and experience points you earn to get stronger for the tougher enemies.
In terms of gameplay, The DioField Chronicle plays differently from other RPGs out there. This game instead plays more like an RTS game where you command only four units in your party to search and destroy the enemy forces. You can command all units to attack all at once, or you can choose one or two of your own units to fight first.
What I like most about this game's gameplay is that you can move around and avoid enemy attacks at any time. One of my biggest pet peeves with turn-based games is that you cannot move and have to bear the brunt of enemy attacks.
In this game, a red circle appears on the screen, indicating when an enemy will strike. If you are within striking range, you can choose all units to move away from in order to be safe from danger. Moving around and choosing when to attack is important if you want to survive the many battles that lie ahead.
Unlike in an RTS game, though, you cannot call for backup when you are being overwhelmed by the enemy. The sad part about this game is that you can only be limited to four party members on the battlefield at one time. Four playable soldiers are kind of puny compared to the number of enemies that can surround you in the harder levels.
Thankfully, the game does offer a diverse number of characters that all have a different range of abilities. For example, there are tank characters that deal huge damage from short-range, and there are also good guys that can attack from afar.
My favourite character in the game is the support team members. These characters can replenish their health when other characters are nearly dying. I also admire that you can revive team members at any time if any of them die on the battlefield.
The only downside to the combat is that everything feels so slow if you play the game on the default speed. It just takes so long to beat up one enemy because their life bars are so long for some reason. Instead, I opt to play the game at double speed as it's much faster and more enjoyable to play at a faster rate.
Another thing that might frustrate some gamers is that there is a steep difficulty curve in this game. The first few levels may feel fine, but as you progress, the game gets much harder at a steep rate. Not to mention the game gets really tough when you have to face boss characters because they are always a level or more above you!
That being said, the game's difficulty is what makes this game somewhat intriguing. This is because you need to think and use strategic decisions to come out on top. You cannot simply play this game blind, as that will get you nowhere.
Graphically, The DioField Chronicle isn't the best-looking game on Xbox Series X, although it still looks pretty decent for its genre. The character animations are pretty good, and it's nice that you can zoom in on the action for a better view of the combat.
Overall, The DioField Chronicle is an above-average strategy JRPG with unique combat mechanics and addictive gameplay. The only downsides to the game are its difficulty curve and its slow style of combat.