Review: Terra Battle.

If you’re anything like me you saw this game, saw it was free, and had anime like characters and jumped at the site of it. Well I’m here to tell you to sidestep, and get a good look at it.

The story is you’re an adventurer, set in a fantastical universe where god has disappeared. So you grab a bunch of other adventurers and set off to find god, or “The Maker” as the characters seem to call he/she. Not exactly treading new ground in terms of a fantasy story, but hey it’s better than “magic crystals blah, blah, blah” so B- for effort. Where the game’s story starts to fall off for me is right at the beginning, when the narrator said that all forces had left earth. Alright let me stop you there game, if gravity had left earth the adventurers wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing because they’d be flying off into fucking space! Now this is nitpicking, and isn’t a representation of the games story as a whole. That line was just so stupid I couldn’t believe someone let that go through.

The plot is not particularly good though. We’re never given any context for why things are the way they are or why we do anything. There are entire plot points that don’t make any sense. For instance, our characters go into a town filled with anthropomorphic talking animals, and we’re never given any exposition on it. Our characters then walk into a tavern and automatically ask if anyone knows where “The Maker” is. Then one of them points to a tower where the maker may be; that’s really what happens. I don’t think I need to explain to you how stupid and completely senseless this is.

The narrative is pretty stupid as well. The story is told through a limited third person, who, as I said earlier, doesn’t ever explain even the little things. The only thing we receive during the story moments is a background image and the narrator stating what’s happening in a vague and ominous manner. Not just that but the narrations are delivered in a sort of poetic fashion, which never comes off as anything more than pretentious. When I said all we get was the narrator and a background image I lied, because that would’ve been better. Instead we also get dialogue. It seems the developer believe that the most relatable and identifiable character is a blank one, so they purposefully left you with only dialogue and no character model whatsoever. The major problem with this is that they also did it for every other character. So pieces of dialogue will come on screen and you’ll barely have a clue who the hell is saying what. You can make the argument that we’re supposed to identify them based on their personality. Fair enough. However, the dialogue is so bland and devoid of personality that your character might as well be the only one talking and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Even if each “character” had distinct enough dialogue, we still don’t have character models or even names to attach any said personality, so it all sort of falls flat. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Ty it’s a mobile game, stop being so critical about the plot!” While mobile games do earn some leeway in terms of mechanics and gameplay, a story is a story, and while the medium in which you tell your story does matter, a poor story and narrative is a poor story and narrative. The platform you choose to tell your story in matters very little. Someone very clearly tried to implement a good story and failed at it, so I’m going to critique it as such.

Now on to the substance of the game, the battles; I actually like them… for the most part.Terra Battle is a turned based strategy game. Well I say “strategy game” in the same sense that checkers is a game for masterminds. The battles take place on a rectangular grid divided into squares. Each member of your party and the enemies occupy one square space, with boss’ occasionally taking up four spaces. Something that impressed me was they managed to create an in depth battling system that’s incredibly simple. How it works is there are four classes: sword, bow, spear, and mage. Sword beats bow, bow beats spear, spear beats sword, and the outlier here is the mage, and the game never really explains how he/she stacks up against the other classes. The mage is also the healer (this will be important to remember later). You attack enemies by lining up two of your party members on opposite ends of an enemy or line of enemies; this maneuver is called “The Pinch.” If any of your party members happen to be on the same X or Y axis as the two that are attacking, the attack will be amplified; this is called a chain. I was pleasantly surprised that how you stack classes up against each other makes a significant difference, instead of just claiming that it’s important. It’s all pretty deep for just moving squares.

Where this game’s strength lies in its simplicity, it’s also its biggest weakness. The Pinch is the only means of attack that you have. While single enemy tiles seem to have a myriad of ways to attack you, including: entire column attacks, horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and surrounding area attacks. Yet it eventually sets in that all you’re doing is moving around squares; combine this with only doing the same maneuver over and over again quickly makes the gameplay very boring and tedious.

The game also has a surprising lack of explanation when it comes to gameplay. Remember earlier when I said the mage also acted as the healer? well, the mage only heals characters that are directly on his X or Y axis when he attacks an enemy. The mage does not heal the other attacking party member, and he doesn’t heal anyone in a secondary chain. Make note of all this because the game will never tell you any of this, and I suspect this is different for every mage. There’s a “Skill Boost” system that the game has yet to adequately explain. There was also a time when I entered a special arena where the enemies the enemies could only be significantly affected by elemental attacks. To which my first response was “there are elemental attacks!?”

Side note: any skills or special attacks, like the elementals, occur after the initial attack. You still have to do The Pinch maneuver.

There are entire aspects and functions of the game they don’t ever bother to say anything about. Listen, I’m all for discovery being the tutorial in a lot of games, just not strategy games, it’s a bad idea. Discovery in any type of strategy game is like strapping a marinated steak to your privates and running into a field full of wild dogs to see what the affects would be.

Now some praise before slamming the final nail into the coffin. The character designs are fantastic. They’re intricate, well designed, colorful, and really capture the right atmosphere for the game. This only further proves my point that they had a wide variety of characters designs to choose from and assign to the characters in the story.

My final gripe is with the character purchasing system. The toll for getting a new character is decent. There is, however, no way, to dispose of or sell characters you don’t want. This is only gets more irritating by the fact that you can still get characters you already have, but you won’t have two of them. The second one becomes a five percent skill boost for the original one. So essentially you just threw resources down a hole.

This game altogether is decent. The gameplay and anime style character designs are the main draw, though there are moderate faults in the former. The story is fairly fascinating and generally good. The narrative and plot at most are annoying, so don’t expect a lot. I did really enjoy some of the battles and gameplay mechanics while I was playing, if only for a little bit. Overall the game is just alright.


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