A new IP from Odd Bug Studio, Tails of Iron is a beautifully hand-drawn 2D RPG and it is shown on the details on both the characters and animation down to the environment. This reminds me of Valiant Hearts which is another beautifully hand-drawn 2D adventure. The story follows Redgi, heir to the Rat throne. Their land is scarred by an eternal struggle for peace and prosperity of their kin. Which is being terrorized by the frog clan who serves as the main antagonist of the story.
The gameplay is akin to that of Metroidvania with a combat mechanic of most soulslike games that is both unforgiving yet rewarding. The metroidvania element play well into the medieval theme and the grim nature of the world. Especially the hidden chambers, rooms and pathways not directly shown on the map. As for soulslike, (I really hate saying that on gameplay as it is overdone by now) it is both unforgiving yet also gives you that special leeway for a last hoorah. How? Often times, I find myself being hit by a one hit move that somehow gives only a single HP left and this is what truly makes it stand out. That last fighting chance that manages to give you that hope to finish it. Now, it isn’t a guarantee that it will give you a winning chance, but it at least gives you a break to heal up and prepare for the next fight.
The plot for Tails of Iron seems to be a typical nation under siege and you have to do everything to save them. The story follows Redgi on his quest to defend and reclaim their land taken by the frog clan. On your journey, you will find intrigues that would question your family’s history. Early on, it is kinda predicted that once the proper tutorial is done. Your dad is to be killed for story reason and you are thrust into the fight. On your quest for your family and kingdom’s future you’d fight tooth and nail for your life and that of your subjects.
Gameplay wise, a lot could be said in this game. Particularly the mechanics, the choice of genre, and combat both would be good and bad. Personally, the RPG element isn’t fully explored. Only basic stats and customization are available. Abilities and perks based on equipment could have been better than the “Just by the number” boost. No reason to select one set over the other. But that’s my personal opinion and don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the gameplay itself. The mechanics is still enjoyable and has a good Metroidvania element along with a grim combat to back it up.
On a positive note, the range enemies particularly the archers are something to admire. They deal heavy damage adding a bit of realism to the mix in a way that you have to watch out for them. The combat is also simple to learn and gives a good leeway for learning in comparison to other soulslike games. Now, some might say it as a dilution of the soulsborn formula but it is in no way as easy as one would think. Initially, you can equip a one-hand weapon along with a shield. This can be used not only for defense but along with creating an opening for a counter even outside of parrying. Later on, you would be able to get two additional weapons. This being the two-handed weapons and the range weapons respectively. Then, you will receive the option to apply poison (venom if you’d be too technical with it) which serves as your sole ability. It’s a welcome addition to the overall combat option.
Then comes the sound and music, I honestly don’t know what to feel about it. When I was playing the game, the sound seems to glitch then desync then just give up entirely. You could have said, it is an Odd Bug! Kidding aside, it is truly magnificent when I was playing the game. The music has an in-game representation at times when you are travelling from town to town. Particularly, on one level, you could see the bard playing on the background. The dialogue is not present conventionally in the game, but rather is narrated by Doug Cockle who if you don’t know also voiced Geralt or Rivia from the Witcher series. And boy oh boy, you could feel the anger, the joy, and every emotion one would have as you go on your journey. That being said, with the exception of being the minor glitch on the sound, it is still beautifully done.
Now let’s talk about the weapons and armor. As you go on your journey, you will be able to obtain unique armor and weapons that unlike in other games that is quite generic in a sense that one iron sword can be found over one cave then another is lootable in the bandit of a camp leader in this fort. Tails of Iron provides one set of each weapon and armor in the world. Meaning each is unique and would have their own design. For weapons, it will be divided into three categories, one-handed and shield, two-handed, and ranged. One-handed offers light and nimble combat with solid defense but at a cost of damage. Meanwhile, two-handed weapons will be filling the damage department but will also leave you extremely vulnerable if you are caught while charging your attack. Planning your move is highly advised when dealing with huge crowds as sacrificing your attack for a bit of defense could make you regret that move in one fell swoop. Moving on to the range combat, it is somewhat lackluster and unexplored. While you can easily hit the enemy with ease due to it having an auto-aim, some enemies can easily dodge it. But it isn’t the main issue on it, it is the lack of reason to pull it out and use them. Outside certain minions, this serves just to get enemy’s attention to barrel right onto you.
We’ve talked about the weapons of Tails of Iron, let’s now talk about the armor. Outside of the looks, stat-wise, and over all resistance, I feel that at times that even the armor that are built to combat and built for hunting a specific enemy are thrown away! One instance is that an armor with a decent protection and a good resistance from frogs are seemingly useless and offers the same protection as armor not rated for frogs. Overall, the equipment seems reliant on the “by the numbers” stat boost that doesn’t give you a variety of selection. Which boils down to selecting armor for durability but slow or armor that will make you fast but you are a glass cannon. And even then, the change is somewhat negligible. But there is a good way to choose one class over the other which I wish the devs have implemented. For example, having the ability to throw your axe while leaving you with only the one weapon is a good risk reward system. Or for lance and spear to have the ability to charge the enemies. Another window for an improvement on the RPG system is the weapon types having different poison utilization. For example, weapons used by the Rat Clan would be able to temporarily slow enemies, while weapons from Frog Clan causes paralysis.
Overall, while enjoyable and pleasing to the eyes in terms of its arts style, majority of the mechanics needs a bit of work to make it truly stand out. Another key take away I find is the music and narration which fits the theme of the game. Even if it somewhat glitched in and out.
Gameplay wise, a lot could be done to improve and explore the RPG elements that is not just fast attack vs pure damage built. There might be more builds to choose from, but in general, I think these are the four main ones due to the by the numbers boost equipment. Also, might not be needed as it is just a humorous take on the builds I’ve done. It boils down to pretty much four build types. The Assassin, which relies on speed but is lacking on both damage and protection department. The Glass Cannon which sees you having the best damage output but leaves you shattering on the flor with one wrong move. The Tank, as the name implies only deals sufficient damage but will outlive waves of enemies. And last but not the least, The Lumbering War Beast which is both good on offense and defense, but would spend the rest of the fight chasing every enemies.
The plot is also kinda generic and lack uniqueness where you are the heir to the throne of the most powerful kingdom of the land (Though it makes sense when you are playing a medieval themed game and doesn’t want to die because you can’t afford to live because you were born as a peasant). Don’t get me wrong with my criticism, Tails of Iron IS truly enjoyable, the environment is fully fleshed out with a bit of intrigue to its lore and background, and the combat is quite rewarding even in its form. But these are where I see its flaws. Again, Tails of Iron is still enjoyable but I wish there was more to it.
Tails of Iron – Review
It’s a good game, but the bad may be harder to ignore than usual.
BGM implementation on certain occasions is quite amusing
Soulslike combat with metroidvania as an exploration
Simple, yet rewarding combat mechanics
By the numbers kind of RPG
The Odd Bug sound glitch. Okay that is the last time