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More Games Need To Borrow Tactics Ogre’s World Tarot System

People love to talk about how games are really great when choices really matter – “choices matter” is even a hashtag on the Steam store. Fallout: New Vegas rules because there are multiple endings depending on who you side with, Mass Effect punishes you for your choices through gut-wrenching feelings of guilt that make for incredibly memorable games, and Detroit: Become Human may disappoint you in more ways. ways you can count. . Giving agency to the player is a great way to make a game feel more impactful, and no game has come close to making me feel as impacted as I did with 1995’s Tactics Ogre.


Tactics Ogre is primarily known for two things: being the granddaddy of all Japanese strategy RPGs, and having wildly disparate paths through the game, depending on the choices you make. The first chapter memorably forces you to choose between massacring a village full of innocents on the orders of your lord or disobeying, becoming a fugitive.

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This is clearly an important choice in an RPG narrative. In a game of no genre, it would have lasting effects on the plot, the attitudes of the NPCs towards the main character, possibly altering the ending to a large extent, that’s obvious. It’s a great establishing moment for protagonist Denam. However, this decision goes a step further: it is the first major split route in the game. Deciding to follow your lord’s plan puts you on a completely different path, with the story changing in every way you can imagine. You face different challenges, you can recruit different characters, and you experience a totally different narrative as a result of your actions.

This is definitely not something you would find in a modern version. Implementing branching paths to this point would be incredibly expensive and even games that dabble in this, like the ones in Dark Pictures Anthology, do it in a way that still makes you hit the same general plot beats, so each playthrough is feel lonely like a game somewhat the same, regardless of your inputs. It makes sense: developers and writers want their efforts to pay off; They want all players to see as much of their game as possible, so the consequences of one player’s actions can’t change things. also much. Granted, all three of Tactics Ogre’s routes end in the same climactic showdown against an ancient evil, but the 40 hours leading up to that ending are totally different, and the way the re-releases of the game make it palatable for the modern age is inspired.

Instead of a New Game Plus mode, Tactics Ogre implements the World Tarot mechanic. This is a menu that allows you to view your game timeline from start to finish and adds anchor points scattered throughout. These allow you to go back to that point in time, equipment, gear, and progress intact, and make different decisions. If you killed those innocents the first time, you can do without them the second time and see where the story takes you without having to start the game all over again, and this is the key. 100 percent completion just went from a mammoth 180 hour feat to a doable 80 hour task.

The World Tarot mechanic might be a retroactive addition to an old game that makes it easier to fully enjoy, but it’s something that should be adopted by more games in the future. You’d see bigger and bolder narrative divergences that would lead to more interesting experiences, your choices would have a bigger impact on a game’s world, and most important of all, you wouldn’t have to waste hours of your precious time getting back to the point. where you make that important choice. You could choose a cake and eat it too.

NEXT: The Overlooked Genius Of Griftlands Where Debates Are Battles And Choices Matter

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