Crimson Tactics: The Rise of the White Banner Preview – Early Access Tactics With Time to Improve

I was on a tactical/strategy RPG kick, having just come out of Cross Tails, started a replay of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, and watching a friend punch their way slowly through Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together when I got a message wondering if I’d like to check out a game called Crimson Tactics: The Rise of the White Banner. And y’know. Who am I to say no to a game that looks like this?

The first game developed by Black March Studios, Crimson Tactics: The Rise of the White Banner, is an early access title that wears its influences on its sleeve. You take the role of Alaris Frink, a newbie knight of Swozalta, on a mission to take down some accursed rebels.

However, as you’ll quickly notice, the rest of these knights are very prone to murder, and maybe they’re not the best to ally with. After deciding to stand against them alongside the rebels, Alaris is involved in a much larger political conflict than his initial pay grade would allow.

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Crimson Tactics is a Tactical RPG that is blatantly inspired by the likes of Tactics Ogre, with the same sorts of buffs, debuffs, elemental affinities, and even some of the menus from the cult classic. You move your squad of units around the map, stabbing at your opponents with basic attacks and a collection of skills and magic you’ll learn through leveling up and redeeming with a shared point total.

It’s pretty fun and allows for some strong unit customization. Additionally, there are a few tricks here you won’t see in other games, like broadswords having an area of effect hit, whips being able to target any enemy immediately around them, and being able to move further at a cost of not making any action, and more. It’s very creative and interesting. And the music? It rules.

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However, there is one debilitating flaw with the gameplay. It is extraordinarily slow. I was showing a friend how this game played, and they went ‘Pyre! Why haven’t you boosted the speed? It’s clearly labeled on the top right!’ and I had to go, ‘It’s. On its maximum speed’. It’s an infuriatingly slow game, which is only hindered further by just how long the story takes to get going at all and how many units you start out maps with.

Its cutscenes blow similar-looking games out of the water, with specially crafted animations that are quite impressive. But I’m not really that sure if all of that will ultimately matter because the story is really lacking some sort of punch. Besides the game itself being slow, the story is also slow, but its arcs have (as far as I’ve played) all wrapped up pretty depthless, leaving me struggling to care for the cast.

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But hey, this title is still in early access, and much could change, even with a supposed relatively soon release. And there’s enough really good stuff here to give me hope that Crimson Tactics: The Rise of The White Banner will be a really strong game on launch if they can address the speed issues.

Crimson Tactics: The Rise of The White Banner is available now on Steam Early Access.

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter