Strategy RPGs are looking to come back in a big way in 2022, with the launch of Triangle Strategy just around the corner. Knights and magic spells are pretty cool, but sometimes we want some giant mechs to fill out those tiles on the battlefield. Relayer presents something different for genre fans and an early free demo allowed us to get an idea of what that is.
Relayer is a visual novel punctuated with strategy RPG battles, not the other way round. Admittedly, this demo certainly feels like much of the playtime is focused on lengthy visual novel segments before you get to the battle sequences. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the title presents a densely rich intergalactic setting, and within the first couple of chapters, there will be plenty of names and faces for players to remember.
The premise revolves around two warring factions as a conflict that could bring about the end of the universe led by two sisters on opposing sides. The narrative’s quality remains to be seen, though there is no denying that the production values here are lavish. Sure, the character designs aren’t exactly original, but the presentation is excellent, and all cast is fully voiced.
Still, even if you can’t get into the character banter, the setting feels immersive and is backed by comprehensive lore. There are many moving parts to how the world is presented to the player, and regardless of how much you find yourself invested, it’s difficult to avoid immersion altogether. In between the visual novel segments and the battles, there are even downtime segments where you can interact with characters and customize your cast.
Regarding battles, Relayer lives up to its hype considering its delays. This is a finely tuned and sound strategy RPG experience, and it eases players into its logical systems and mechanics smoothly thanks to a carefully structured mission progression. It may feel like there is too much to take in, but the game allows players to get familiar with all the features, and they become second nature rather quickly too.
Battles take place on flat tile-based maps, and the gameplay is clean and straightforward in execution. This is as good as any of the classics from the genre, and chances are, if you’re looking forward to the recently announced Front Mission remake for Nintendo Switch, Relayer will more than fill the void in the meantime. The early missions in the demo are straightforward enough, but they are satisfying, and as soon as you win one battle, you’ll be thrilled for the next one.
Even when running on a PS5, the title isn’t exactly planning to be a technical showcase for your console. However, it boasts a crisp and appealing visual style you can’t help but enjoy, especially when the mech designs are striking. While the main battle grid is practical and simple in its presentation, it’s always neat to see the attack animations as you get to see signature moves play out.
Sure, it can get old to see certain animations over and over. Still, even in its early missions, the game introduces players to a vibrant cast of unique characters and their respective mechs, which each has its own attack style. It’s like playing chess in space with giant robots.
Relayer is likely going to surprise players, and even if you’re not fully into the visual novel aspects, there’s a deep mech RPG experience here that you’re going to want to try out. If you find yourself reaching the end of the demo and wanting more, then the good news is that demo save progress transfers to the full game when it launches later this month.
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