In the land of Caelum, an unknown cataclysmic event has plunged the world into a new dark age. The Gods who once lived alongside humanity are now gone, leaving them alone to contend with a powerful being that has emerged from the void. An event called the Scourge marked the arrival of a dragon that brought death and disease to the land. Those affected by the Scourge would lose their mind and bodies only to become known as the Blighted.
With whispers of the impending Scourge, you and your company find yourselves in a crypt not far from the city of Andilion. This is the beginning of your quest to become heroes of the land and take on the Scourge. This is the Iron Oath.
The Iron Oath Is a turn-based tactical fantasy RPG that puts you in command of a company of mercenaries. Fight, survive and grow your company through the lands of Caelum, where the fate of your members rests on every decision you make. Manage your team, hire new recruits and embark on deadly missions to build the legend of your company.
Outside of combat, The Iron Oath borrows elements from text-based adventures. The story is delivered through text between battles to set the narrative and inform players of character interactions. This vintage style of narrating is a welcome change akin to a fantasy novel.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward as you fight to survive enemy encounters, but there is a hell of a lot to unpack here. For those unfamiliar with tactical RPGs, here’s a quick breakdown. You’re placed in a stage mapped out by hexagons during enemy encounters. All of the characters you control have individual skills and attacks that utilize these hexagons. Your job is to analyze your character’s strengths and abilities, initiate starting positions, and use their abilities to take down the enemy.
Each character has a unique skill set. For example, an archer can provide backup from a distance, but placement is vital as obstacles can block your line of sight. Mages are good for mid-range battle but be aware of your team’s location as your attacks can also damage your own teammates. There are also tanks meant for up-close melee attacks and healers who may not have the most significant attack strength but can provide healing to your team.
This must be managed while maneuvering around obstacles, dodging falling rubble, and utilizing pitfalls and traps to your advantage. There are also consequences for every decision. As your company loses health, their morale can fall, lowering their loyalty to the company. Decisions made while exploring can also impact loyalty and your standing within the company.
After exploring dungeons and sieging enemy encampments, it’s time to find sanctuary in a neutral town. Towns provide marketplaces to upgrade your company’s armor and weapons, Infirmaries to heal, and taverns that allow you to recruit new members and buy drinks for your team to increase their loyalty.
The Iron Oath is extensive and provides deep customization options. There are contracts and bounties and a comprehensive campaign that spans decades of time. Through text adventure elements, the unique open-world exploration systems provide an excellent sense of world-building coupled with exciting dungeons. Tactical RPGs may not be the most exciting genre, but there’s a decent sense of depth to this adventure that allows it to stand out within its first couple of hours. After that, the game’s accessibility, clever design, and presentation created an experience that I wanted to continue. I can’t wait to see this game evolve through its Early Access period.
The Iron Oath releases to Early Access on PC on April 19, 2022.
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