TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight Review – PC

nocras is a name in the gaming industry you may not know, but one that deserves to be known. This individual is an environmental artist that has worked on the likes of Final Fantasy XIV, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and much more. Notable for grand-scale creations, nocras is an artist that 47k Twitter users follow closely, across language barriers and more.

nocras’ latest venture is TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight. One look at screenshots and one may be in awe at the vibrant, elaborate environments broadcast straight from nocras’ vision. Thankfully, there’s more to it than just that, as TASOMACHI serves as a platformer/collectathon in the vein of Super Mario Odyssey and the like.

I could have screenshot any moment of the game and it would prove to be a looker.

GAMEPLAY/PLOT

TASOMACHI tasks the player with navigating towns and collecting Sources of Earth to repair their airship. These are hidden in bushes, the ground, and in other hard-to-reach places, demanding the player to platform their way across town. Along the way, they will encounter shrines in the towns with four platforming challenges each. Once completed, the towns’ mysterious fog disappears and the cat-like villagers return.

VISUALS

Some of the gorgeous environments you’ll explore, scattered with Chinese-style architecture.

Likely the most significant aspect of why TASOMACHI is moving copies is thanks to the mind of nocras. Together with developer Orbital Express, the atmosphere, inspired by a Chinese imperial aesthetic, is eye candy. It feels worthwhile to complete the shrines and make the towns look abuzz with no obfuscation from the fog, a true night-and-day difference. While architecture gets a bit redundant, the color scheme between towns sets them apart enough thanks to varying level design.

AUDIO

Another big draw that I didn’t realize until I took a gander at the Steam page was that Ujico/Snail’s House provided the music for the game. This musical artist is near and dear to me, as they provided the backdrop for some hilarious TF2 SFM videos, and can stretch from quirky bops to scenic jams across their discography. They delivered a standup job in TASOMACHI, providing ambient grace in exploration sections and upbeat tracks during platform dungeons.

CASUAL

Those looking for a relaxed time, look no further. There’s no combat in TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight, and you’ll only lose a few seconds if you fall during a platform challenge. This laid-back pace will make it welcoming for casual players seeking pretty sights and sounds.

Towns are shrouded in fog until you clear platforming challenges within shrines.

CONS

Unfortunately, there are still some pain points within this game. The movement is fairly tight, a necessity for platformers, but requires some getting used to since it’s so floaty. One ability you unlock, “boost”, feels miniscule and nothing like a dash you may see in games within the genre. Text and animation feels similar to some that I’ve seen in early-access/shovelware titles, but not jarring enough to be more than a nitpick. Worse off, I encountered a crash every time I attempted to load the third town. This occurred within a mere 2 hours of gameplay and near to game completion, so it truly hampered the mood. Here’s hoping this gets patched soon.

CONCLUSION

Nevertheless, there’s potential to be had with TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight. It’s undoubtedly gorgeous, an aural pleasure, and a strong first solo effort for nocras. Perhaps the $20 price tag is a bit steep for the state the game’s in, as it currently sits with a “mixed” rating on Steam, but with updates, this could become something great.

So, why should you play it?

  • Relaxed, casual game to experience at your own pace.
  • Bangin’ soundtrack from Ujico/Snail House.
  • Unreal environments.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Game-breaking bug in my build.
  • Some platform challenges are a bit too tough, and need to be skipped.
One of several moments I had to stop and stare. And screenshot.

A PC code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Project Triangle Strategy Demo Impressions

It has been over thirteen years since the last Final Fantasy Tactics game, and 10 years since the highly-praised Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – two Square Enix games that together helped define the tactical role-playing game genre. For the last decade there has been a lull in the genre from the acclaimed developer. That was until last week’s Nintendo Direct, which included the surprise announcement of the next game in the HD-2D series: Project Triangle Strategy for Nintendo Switch. Though it may have a bland and boring name, the game is anything but.

As an avid fan of the tactical RPG genre and having previously played Octopath Traveller, this announcement piqued my interest, and to my delight an extensive demo was made available on the Switch eShop immediately after the Direct. In this article I’ll be discussing some of the most important features of Triangle Strategy, some interesting aspects of the demo, and what to expect from the full game when it releases in 2022.

First impression:
Immediately upon booting up the demo, you’re greeted with a sequence that shows off the game’s distinct HD-2D art-style: 2D character sprites combined with high-definition pixel art environments jam-packed with beautiful lighting and particle effects. If you’ve played Octopath Traveler, this game will certainly look familiar. Though don’t be mistaken, this is no follow-up to Octopath, as it is set in a brand new continent, Norzelia, with an entirely new cast of characters. There’s no messing around once you press New Game either, as you’re immediately thrown right into the middle of the story, starting at Chapter 6 of the game.

The main menu, showcasing the game’s distinct HD-2D art style.

Plot & Characters:
The player assumes the role of young protagonist Serenoa Wolffort, heir to House Wolffort, who is caught in the midst of a struggle between three warring nations: Glenbrook, Aesfroste, and Hyzante. Each nation has control over a specific resource, and as such they compete for each other’s materials, known as The Saltiron War. Alongside him fight a band of companions, childhood friends, warriors, and his betrothed who hails from the opposing nation of Aesfrost. The story which is spread across two chapters taken from the game, is highly political, and allows the player to view each nation’s perspective during event sequences scattered throughout the world map. The tone of the game feels very similar to that of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, as it feels quite real and gritty as opposed to a whimsical high fantasy setting.

Below are a few of the game’s main characters, represented in character cards that appear when you press X during any line of their dialogue. A nice touch that allows you to keep track of who’s who.

Gameplay:
At approximately 3 – 4 hours in length, the demo provides a surprising amount of content and allows an adequate amount of time to get a feel for the gameplay, which is divided into three separate areas: exploration, persuasion, and combat
Exploration: allows the player to walk around a particular area, interacting with NPCs, finding items, entering houses, and gaining more insight into the region. This is integral to the combat phase, as you may discover insightful snippets of knowledge or environmental aspects that aide you during battle.

Project Triangle Strategy Nintendo Switch Final Fantasy Tactics Exploration
The exploration phase, where you can move freely around towns.

Persuasion: during the course of the demo you will have to make quite an important decision that affects the gameplay. The characters vote on the “Scales of Conviction” – casting their vote for a particular plan, and your dialogue as the protagonist will influence which side of the scale is tipped. This sequence is highly important, and directly influences the story through the choices you make.

Project Triangle Strategy Nintendo Switch Final Fantasy Tactics Voting
The climax of the persuasion phase, which ends in a vote using the Scales of Conviction.

Combat: the most important, strategic aspect of the game. If you’ve played any previous tactical JRPG, you’ll feel right at home with Triangle Strategy’s combat. Characters are assigned a spot in a queue based on their speed, and move a number of tiles followed by an attack with a weapon, an ability, or use of an item. This simple combat becomes increasingly complex when aspects such as terrain, height, and environmental traps and weapons are added into the mix.

Project Triangle Strategy Nintendo Switch Final Fantasy Tactics Combat
The combat phase, laid out like a grid, will feel familiar to those who have played previous tactical RPGs.

Controlling an entire party against a formidable foe is incredibly satisfying, and easily the best aspect of the game. On multiple occasions I had to stop and plan my following moves, particularly during the last mission of the demo, which poses a challenge for new and veteran players alike. The visuals too are fitting to the style of gameplay, as during combat you can rotate the battlefield and observe it from any angle to plan your attack. I found the only drawback to this was some slight framerate drop when the screen was particularly busy. It’s a very attractive game in both handheld and docked mode, and the environments are particularly gorgeous in the HD-2D style.

One of the maps with detailed HD-2D visuals, which you can rotate 360 degrees.

Soundtrack:
And finally, what JRPG would be complete without a brilliant soundtrack?
As a follow-up to Octopath Traveler, I expected the return of its composer, Yasunori Nishiki, who created some of the most gorgeous music I’ve heard in a modern JRPG. Sadly this is not the case, but do not despair! Instead the composer this time is Akira Senju, best known for composing many anime soundtracks, notably the critically-acclaimed Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (a personal favourite of mine). There is a certain epic quality to his music, which utilises heavy orchestral pieces filled with blaring brass that feel as if even the music itself is taking you into battle. Impressively there is almost 3 hours of music in the demo alone!

So should you download it?
This is easily one of the best demos available, and an insightful experience into Square Enix’s next foray into the tactical RPG genre. Whether you’re a die-hard Final Fantasy Tactics fan like myself, or even just curious and want to dip into the genre, and would highly recommend downloading this free demo and trying it for yourself. Project Triangle Strategy currently has a release date of 2022, and this demo though only a few hours long, will leave you hungry for more.