The DioField Chronicle, tried out of Square Enix's new strategic RPG

The DioField Chronicle, tried out of Square Enix's new strategic RPG

The DioField Chronicle

Announced completely by surprise during the State of Play in March, The DioField Chronicle has never been taken too seriously for a variety of reasons: the visibly backward technical sector, the bizarre name and the reduced advertising hype suggest a medium / low budget, but after playing the hefty demo for a few hours we can say that strategic RPG enthusiasts should have more than one reason to keep an eye on this cross-platform Square Enix production due out in September.

Apart from the fact that Lancarse, a Japanese developer best known for collaborating with Atlus on Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey over ten years ago, also worked on it, in our trial of The DioField Chronicle we will talk about our first impressions, which are quite positive, albeit with some reservations.

Dio Field!

The DioField Chronicle, the protagonists of the story Let's say that The DioField Chronicle is not that it presents itself well. The technical sector is certainly old-fashioned, but an observation that is especially true for the 3D models which are meticulously detailed, but also woody in the animations and really too inexpressive. This doesn't help to lift the tide of a storyline that really struggled to stand out over the course of the demo. We found out that DioField - that's what it's called! - is an island rich in Jade, a powerful resource with multiple capabilities that tempts the warring factions on the continent, the Empire and the Alliance that opposes it.

Now everyone is turning their eyes to DioField's jade deposits which, on behalf of him, has other things to peel, among bandits and monsters that infest his regions. The story, at least at the beginning, follows the vicissitudes of some mercenaries in the pay of the Duke of Hende who, needless to say, will end up involved in a complicated conspiracy.

The protagonists, unfortunately, are quite stereotyped and the inexpressiveness we have already criticized does not help in the frequent cinematics rich in dialogue and exposure. The narrative seems to be adult and complex and at times reminded us of the recent Triangle Strategy, also by Square Enix, but also Game of Thrones; after all, the soundtrack was composed by the same author of the TV series, Ramin Djawadi. At a certain point, fortunately, a library is unlocked in which it is possible to consult diagrams and summaries to find out among the many characters mentioned, their roles in the conflict and the power relationships that bind or divide them.

By knowing better the various protagonists, however, it seems that we have to rely on some secondary missions that tell their stories and their past. The writing, in this sense, did not seem very brilliant. The first characters we recruit to the team join our cause unceremoniously and our hope is that the script will develop them better in the hours to come.


The DioField Chronicle, DioField it's an island in the middle of a conflict. In terms of gameplay, however, we were surprised much more positively. The DioField Chronicle is a fairly traditional Japanese tactical RPG, at first glance. The player takes control of Andrias, the protagonist, and moves him in the third person to the mercenary base, Elm Camp, where it is possible to access traditional services and features such as the shop, the Practice mode that allows you to repeat already completed missions , and so on. In the early stages of the game, a character is also unlocked that allows you to spend the SP earned in battle to improve the archetypes of the units, unlocking additional bonuses and abilities. It is a very intuitive Skill Tree, despite the bifurcations, which can be reset at any time by spending a certain amount of guld, DioField's currency.

Getting around the base is very fast thanks to a travel system rapid access that allows you to access every room in an instant, but we must admit that, in this sense, we found the 3D construction of the scenario quite useless, when a simple list of features would have been enough. Hats off for the effort, therefore, even if this Elm Camp, at least initially, appears a bit gaunt.

The DioField Chronicle, the enemies telegraph their attacks before using them There are also different potentialities in the development of the characters, who still individually accumulate another resource, called AP, which allows you to purchase more specific upgrades for each of them. Characterized by an archetype - defender, attacker, ranged and so on - the characters wield different weapons that define them. A shielded unit will better withstand the blows of enemies in melee, while archers and mages can strike from a distance but are much more vulnerable. It is a subject that fans of the genre should know very well, after all.

On the other hand, the dynamics of the Assistant are more interesting. In fact, we can deploy up to four characters in battle, but each of them can be associated with a helper, or a character who would normally remain on the bench. Basically, the Helper appears only if we use his specific abilities, but it doesn't seem to have any other role in the clashes. While gaining fewer experience points than first-person units, it still grants an extra variety of usable abilities.

The combat system

The DioField Chronicle, Bahamut is the first summon of the game We come then to the fighting, that is to the missions that we can start from the special geography map of DioField. The demo doesn't offer much variety in terms of gameplay; it is more like a tutorial that teaches the basics of combat, which immediately seemed intuitive and interesting, but not devoid of angularity. The first thing you need to know is that the combat in The DioField Chronicle is a hybrid: Square Enix calls it Real-Time Tactical Battle and, in fact, the initial approach is not too different from that of Real Time Strategy. The four units move freely and are not tied to a grid as in many Japanese strategists; the player can simply select one, or all of them, and then select the point on the map where he wants them to go, or the target on which they must converge.

The enemies in most cases stop at specific points on the map, but on some occasions they are scripted to aim directly at the protagonists, for example when we are busy defending a specific place. This means that you have to react in real time to enemy moves, moving units and choosing targets at the right moment.

The DioField Chronicle, Meteor is a Waltaquin magic An interesting feature of The DioField Chronicle, in fact, it is what we commonly call "telegraph", that is a visual effect that anticipates the attack of an enemy in a specific and delimited area. Some hostile units will use spells or special abilities that are telegraphed, in fact, a few moments before and we will have to take care to immediately move our units from the area of ​​effect or to use an ability that stuns the target to interrupt the loading of the attack. Some enemies, such as bosses, become immune to stuns after a while, so it is not possible to abuse status ailments to bypass the mechanics of telegraph attacks, and you have to react quickly.

It might seem that The DioField Chronicle expects a little too much from the reflexes of the players, who would basically have to spot the incoming attack, select the right character - for example, Izelair - and choose a Shield Bash stun ability to interrupt the enemy, and all in the a couple of seconds or less. In fact, the Lancarse title goes into "tactical pause" every time the skill list opens, allowing players to calmly choose what to do.

The DioField Chronicle, the combat system is called RTTB Most abilities are positional, meaning they hit a certain area, and so you need to move a unit in the right way to intercept as many enemies as possible in the area of ​​effect of its attack. Fredret's Full Frontal Assault attack, for example, hits enemies in its path and pushes the rider behind them. Andrias's Leaping Attack, on the other hand, hits a circular area at a distance, but moves the mercenary to its center, potentially relocating it among the angry enemies. Other abilities work in channeling: Waltaquin's Convalescent Circle, for instance, will heal companions in the area of ​​effect as long as the sorceress remains motionless.

Each time you use a skill, you have to wait a few seconds before to be able to use others: a real recharge time that induces the player to carefully choose which spells to use and when. Considering, however, that each skill essentially "freezes" the game for the duration of its animation, the dynamic half real-time and half turn-based could make those looking for a more homogeneous gameplay turn up their noses.

The DioField Chronicle, abilities pause combat for animation In general, though, the combat system made a good impression, and the structure of the maps lends itself to intelligent and strategic use of space and mechanics. You can grab the enemy's attention by entering his field of vision and then lead him into a bottleneck and use the bottleneck to storm AoE skill targets as long as they are too close, for example.

Enemies also drop Jade particles that restore life points, magic points - here called EPs - or an indicator, called TP Gauge, which represents a kind of real super move in the form of an evocation . The first that the game makes available from the very first mission, and without too many ceremonies, is Bahamut. Simply load the gauge and then select the corresponding skill to unleash a short cinematic and a ton of damage on enemies. It is up to the player to decide when and how to download the TP Gauge: in the demo, for example, you learn how to also summon Goldhorne, a deer that heals the whole team, but which requires two TP Gauge charges.

The DioField Chronicle, the maps are very accurate and detailed Despite being scaled by a technical sector not exactly among the most sophisticated, and a narrative that appears in the first hours focuses more on the power relations of the enemies than on the characterization of the protagonists, The DioField Chronicle is a hybrid strategic RPG with interesting potential is revealed. Remembering that it will be possible to import the Demo save in the final version of the Square Enix title, we advise you to wait for our review without giving in to prejudices, because this is one of those cases in which you should not judge a book by its cover.

We too underestimated The DioField Chronicle after its announcement and instead the title Square Enix and Lancarse has several arrows in its bow. While not being able to count on a cutting-edge technical sector, this new strategic RPG would seem to offer lovers of the genre a different approach than usual that mixes the dynamics in real time with turn-based combat typical of the Japanese tradition. Keep an eye on him.


Very promising hybrid combat system A good variety of characters to develop DOUBT Will the story and characters become more engaging? Variety and complexity of advanced missions to check Have you noticed any errors?

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