Developer: Impact Gameworks
Publisher: Impact Gameworks
As far as turn based games go, I usually am not a huge fan. There are always exceptions such as Octopath Traveler, Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, and Final Fantasy VII. I prefer being a part of the action, pulling off sick combos and attacks that light up my screen in action-heavy titles. Tangledeep gives the best of both.
Violence: You fight fantasy creatures with a variety of weapons. If you can find it in most fantasy RPGs, you can use it. Monsters fade away upon defeat and there is no blood. Screen edges turn red when you are at death’s door and eventually completely covered in red, your run’s current stats shown before cutting to black.
Spiritual Content: There is a healer in town that you pay for healing, blessings, and changing Jobs. Obviously not the altruistic type, Percy, the healer, must be paid for her services.
She is clearly a televangelist. You can also use magic in the typical fantasy fare, nothing evil about its use.
Making something new out of what makes the old great is a tough gig. You want to be respectful to what worked, but play with the tools and tinker away until something finally snaps into place. Octopath Traveler did this with its “HD-2D” style that blended the looks of a SNES game with the visual depth and fidelity of today’s modern games. Tangledeep does something similar, but completely different.
When you normally get into a bit of a scuffle in turn-based games, you go into a special arena to duke it out. In Tangledeep, you stay in the world and things only happen if you are acting. It works in a similar manner as Superhot. Time moving when you act is the logic of the game. If you are moving or attacking, your enemies are doing the same. There is not really as much of a rhythm to this as you would expect. It feels like a pause in a conversation where someone says “well, don’t you all speak up at once,” and everyone proceeds to talk at the same time. You just have to get a feel of the battle ground and play it as a singular pawn against most of your opponent’s chess pieces.
There are some systems that give you a slight boost since it is you versus the mob. As you use your skills and move, a meter fills. When it is filled, you get to use an extra action while your enemies do nothing. This comes in handy most when you are at lower health than the last enemy and in two quick strikes you can end him before he can do the same to you. Other actions do not take up turns as well. You can use one of your
Estus flask charges to heal over time or one of your defensive skills so you do not end up losing too much health by battle’s end.
Of course, one cannot talk about skills without speaking of the jobs required to receive said skills. There are twelve jobs in the game, with three of those locked until you progress more in the story. Each of the nine default jobs you can select have varying abilities, from martial arts and close combat specialties to spell-casting and basic sword and shield handling. If you are unsure of which one to pick, they have a difficulty associated with them to make the game more challenging. Conversely, if the one you picked feels too easy for you, you can find job change scrolls and try something else without starting a new game—you even get to keep your old skills to boot! The catch is that your job points used to get new skills are taken from you, as well as the stat bonuses and traits you received from your last job.
Along with the difficulties listed for the jobs above, the game itself has three ways to play. There is Adventure Mode, where the only consequences to death are lost money, experience and job points. This mode is recommended for any beginners to this or any other rogue genre game. In Heroic Mode (rogue-lite), you can only keep your items if they are kept in the town bank akin to the bank from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The progress you make in improving your town is also kept in this mode. This mode is similar to Enter the Gungeon. The most difficult of them is Hardcore Mode (rogue-like). In this mode, if you perish, that is it. Nothing is saved for you and the entire save slot is erased. Do not take upon a journey in this mode lightly, unless you want to modify the game. That is right, you can turn on modifiers to the game to make it even more difficult or easy as you wish. If you wish to be able to regenerate health outside of combat, you can do that. Maybe you do not like it when monsters give you gold upon their defeat; you can change that,
but I will call you a weirdo.
All of these are great and work well together, but this machine is not the smoothest. When you defeat enemies, they drop new loot for you to equip. This is typical practice for a title in this particular genre. However, a good eighty-five percent of the loot you receive is things you already own or is worse than what you have. Clearly this system is built for the Heroic campaign, but when you play on Adventure mode, it is disappointing to find yet another hide shield when you want better gear to fight the tougher enemies. Even so, the loot loop would keep me hooked if I were receiving better items a higher percentage of the time. Even when you want to check if the item you found is better than your current one, the menu seems to be fighting you, at least on the Switch. If you want to compare one of your swords with another one but have your bow equipped, you need to equip the sword first before comparing. This is even worse for armor items. You have two slots available, but when you are comparing your equipped with your inventory, it will only compare against the item in the first slot. If there was a simple compare button, you could use it to compare your equipped items; the inconvenience would be alleviated. Instead, you have to manually swap already equipped items constantly to see if a hood is better than a pair of spectacles. All of the other menus work much better, though.
Overall, Tangledeep is a good game. The gameplay is great, with even better graphics and soundtrack. I wish the inventory system was more streamlined and robust. If you are itching for a new rogue game and want a great RPG with it, Tangledeep is one that you can easily find yourself tangled up in and not mind it much.
The Bottom Line
With a new take on turn based combat, Tangledeep makes old feel new again. What I can only describe as Superhot in Final Fantasy, Tangledeep is one to download sooner rather than later. Be warned, the loot and inventory are not as robust or rewarding as Diablo.