The DioField Chronicle Review

The FioField Chronicle Header

It’s the age-old question that I’m sure many of you have asked: what if Command & Conquer was anime? While turn-based, grid-style combat has been the norm for Japanese tactics RPGs for decades, you rarely see an RTS spin put on these kinds of games. Even in the indie scene, turn-based tactics and Advanced Wars-likes have become frequent, while real-time strategy has been practically non-existant. While The DioField Chronicle is steeped in narrative and aesthetic aspirations straight out of the PlayStation 2 era, it has a refreshing real-time spin on political tactics warfare that gives a refreshing break from the otherwise dull experience.

In the land of DioField, religious royalty rules over all, but when assassinations and a sickly king leave the land without a successor to the throne, parties from across the nation begin butting heads to secure their spot as the next ruler through any means necessary. Your protagonist is Andrias Rhondarson, a friend of the murdered heir who, years after the assassination, is leading a crew of fighters in an attempt to get close to the throne and secure what was taken from his friend. There’s nuggets of interesting setup here, but none of it is actually built up in an interesting way – you’re fed all of this info through a dry, rushed exposition-filled opening animatic, and then tossed into a random moment with Andrias and his two warrior friends, Frederet and Izelair.

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There’s a lack of context at the start that makes it hard to relate to any of this trio – as they go from fledgling independent warriors to employed soldiers of the crown, Andrias’ inner thoughts and the plans of his crew are completely unknown to you. It gives the impression that there’s something more afoot, perhaps an unreliable narrator scenario or a twist in the motivations of our protagonist.

After ten hours, the other shoe hasn’t dropped. After twenty, you realise that there never was another shoe. Every character you meet stays within their bland and unexpected boxes, while our protagonist fails to shine in any way. In fact, by the end of the campaign, most of our would-be-heroes have either become blood-thirsty lunatics, sworn anti-Democratic heretics, village pillagers, or some combo of the three. Nobody is likeable or three-dimensional, unless you dive into some side-quests where the characters briefly drop the act and just…chat for a bit.

The FioField Chronicle Combat

What I found far more interesting in The DioField Chronicle than it’s failed political conquest story was it’s incredibly unique gameplay. Battles are real-time engagements where you command four units to move across small, bespoke fields of battle. Because of that, you’ve got a tighter focus that gives way to fun moments of strategising how to guide your units so one can secure a flanking ambush bonus while the others can provide direct front-facing damage or secure treasure hidden in the corner of the map.

There are a dozen or so characters to recruit that fall into four different categories: soldier, cavalier, sharpshooter, and magicker. While you can only command four at a time, though, you’re allowed to bring four additional units in as supports for your main fighters, and you can even swap to them in an emergency.

The core of combat in The DioField Chronicle is really fun, and I was hooked on it from the beginning. Unfortunately, that gameplay loop that I fell in love with at the start of the game never evolved in meaningful ways. As you progress, your allies grow stronger, your equipment gets better, enemies have more health and, sometimes, a couple of new attacks. But that’s it. Missions play out almost identically, there aren’t any new enemy variants that encourage different approaches to battle, and bosses just have a few more health bars than regular enemies. In fact there aren’t even environmental buffs or debuffs depending on what kind of terrain your characters stand on. It’s the kind of thing that didn’t deter me from playing, since I still loved the basic gameplay loop, but if those initial battles don’t hook you, the rest of them won’t since they’re fundamentally the same.

The FioField Chronicle Cavalry

Ultimately, The DioField Chronicle just doesn’t feel as fleshed out as it could be – there’s a lack of variety to combat, and a lack of subtlety or surprise to the story. Even the aesthetics of the game feel half-baked – characters have incredible voices and gorgeous designs in standard scenes, but frequent CG cutscenes render them with awful porcelain faces and force the actors to fall into robotic line delivery as they attempt to match the lip flaps of these scenes. There’s something promising here in the real-time spin on a medieval tactics experience, but it’s far from the Final Fantasy Tactics successor that some might hope for.

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Summary
The DioField Chronicle delivers a unique real-time spin on the usual tactics RPG experience, but it's marred by a boring story, unlikable characters, and inconsistent presentation. While the one saving grace is the addictive and always rewarding combat, missions fail to deliver the evolution or variety that some might expect. Overall, it's an interesting game, but not an altogether great one.
Good
  • Sharp character designs and portrait art
  • Satisfying, unique real-time tactics combat
Bad
  • Bland, basic story of political conquest
  • Unendearing, underdeveloped characters
  • Gameplay never evolves or expands
  • Rough-looking cutscenes
6
Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.