If videogames have taught me one thing, it’s that I’m no tactical man. I stumble from encounter to encounter, Leroy Jenkins working my way through life without forethought, and more often than not I get punished for it. Such has been my experience with Vanaris Tactics (opens in new tab), a new indie strategy game from stand-alone developer Matthias Reuss, which hit Steam today.
Vanaris takes place in a fantasy world and follows the story of a family of refugees trying to break out of their occupied homeland. Fighting takes place on an isometric, grid-based plane and mostly revolves around trying to flank or retreat while keeping enemies from doing the same to you. Although in my time with either game’s prologue, it really mostly revolved around shooting my nephew in the head, which is neither family friendly nor particularly tactical.
It’s actually very Final Fantasy strategy, and Rees is very upfront about it. He explicitly named FFT and Tactics Ogre as the inspiration behind Vanaris in the game’s initial announcement. I’ve never played a Tactics ogre, but I once spent part of a hot summer watching a friend beat FFT and every time I finish a turn I flash it back and it fixed Have to do what my little chibi character will have to deal with in order to maximize his heft.
I’ve had a great time with it so far, casual nepotism aside, and it’s clearly a game that’s got a lot of love poured into it. The combat isn’t too involved – at least not the parts I’ve seen – but the process of making skillful use of skills and outwitting enemies is a rewarding one. The art is a joy to watch as well, and it tells its story so seriously that I almost don’t notice even the slightest crappy dialogue. It’s not perfect (I still don’t know what half my stats mean and the game isn’t interested in telling me), but it’s a neat take on the FFT by a single dev, and I always have a There is a soft spot for passion projects.
Right now is a good time to be strategy-savvy on PC. Into the Breach has gotten its enhanced version, the Tactics ogre is just around the corner, and whispers on the edge of listening suggest that an FFT remaster (opens in new tab) may be somewhere on the horizon. With small indie titles like this filling the gaps between big releases, it’s a golden age for the armchair von Clausewitz among us. Not me, though: I’m just trying to keep the reticulum away from my nephew.