Who else have we not seen souslikes about? About aliens? About zombies? Can we talk about how a feminist and a transgender fight shoulder to shoulder with male stereotypes? And what about the showdown between rats, frogs and mosquitoes? Now, thanks to Tails of Iron, – there is. But what does all this mouse fuss look like?
Son for father
As you already understood and as you can see from the screenshots, Tails of Iron is a two-dimensional, very beautiful, hand-drawn (this is generally a feature of the British Odd Bug Studio ) action at the junction of metroidvania, platforming and soul-like. That is, perhaps the most popular genre hybrid today.
Only here we play for a rat – more precisely, for a young rat king named Reggie. He ascended the throne under the most tragic circumstances – an elderly crowned father was killed in front of him by toads and frogs who attacked the rat capital. The city itself was sacked and almost destroyed, and Reggie was one of the few survivors. Now, of course, he needs to take revenge, win, restore and return to its former glory – everything is on the list of the average hero.
Everything is like people.
First of all, he must save and return his brothers, whom the frogs from the Green Wart clan have taken away. One of the brothers is a royal chef, the other is a blacksmith. And after the rescue, we still need to rebuild the dining room, where the dishes cooked by the brother increase the maximum health reserve, as well as the forge – there, according to the found or purchased blueprints, they will make a new weapon, shield or armor for us.
All communication takes place through artistic whistle and such pictures.
The errand king
At first, all this is intriguing – even if it is a showdown between rats, frogs, worms, mosquitoes and moles, but you feel a gloomy, even tragic atmosphere, just like in Dark Souls and the like. And everything is drawn very stylishly.
It seems that the smell of blood and burning will leak out of this picture …
Then, however, jokes, light irony and funny names begin to arrive, which, however, is normal for such an animal setting. It’s not scary.
But when the economic fuss with the rebuilding of industrial premises is twisted, the mood and atmosphere do not just evaporate, but sink. The fact is that we are forced to go through side tasks in order to earn gold for construction work. And these quests are exclusively for carbon copy (destroy the lair of worms / set up a camp of scout frogs and stuff like that) and unfold plus or minus in the same locations.
Assignments are issued on the bulletin board and can be repeated.
First, they will ask to earn eight gold coins in this way (one “side” gives from two to four coins), then – ten. And when you, sweaty, bring everything, and they tell you: let’s collect another 30 gold in the same way, then you will want to become the very rat that escapes from this ship. Thank God, Reggie’s story is made up not only of voluntary-forced labor, but such situations, I repeat, knock out of the general rhythm and mood. Reggie himself sometimes sneers at the fact that the king is forced to run and complete tasks.
The authors are also ironic, but they still force us to do the routine.
The gameplay itself pleases primarily with the combat system. There are practically no passable battles in Tails of Iron , especially at first. The authors immediately make it clear that it will not be easy: no joke, almost our first serious fight in the game – and right away with the boss! And in the future, even one or two privates (seemingly) of the enemy can quickly cut off Reggie’s “iron tail”. You have to dodge, block and counterattack in time.
Walking around from behind here is very good for your health.
At the same time, the game seems to make two significant indulgences. Firstly, there is no endurance – you can hit and dodge as much as you like. Secondly, color indicators flash during special attacks: red indicate that the attack can be dodged, and yellow – that it is better to block it. But battles and opponents are arranged in such a way that it does not make the situation much easier. There are often many opponents involved in battles. And when someone from above or from below throws something at you or spits something (this needs to be blocked), someone is going to ram, someone is preparing a “red” or “yellow” attack, then you should be guided and do everything wrong. it’s simple.
As Nikolai Karpol would have exclaimed, where is … yours, the block ?!
And then, after all, it is necessary not only to block the blow, but to do it in time to stun or throw the enemy to the ground. This is especially important in fights with bosses who do not care that we have no “stamina”. They are still all strong and with their own counters – they can spit poison, summon lightning and jump at us across the entire arena.
Zombies will appear at some point.
It is also important to choose the equipment correctly. With a regular attack, we use a one-handed weapon and a shield, with an alternative we get a two-handed one. A spear, for example, strikes quickly and in a straight line, and a heavy sledgehammer can be hit from top to bottom – when meeting with flying creatures, this can be useful. Yes, there is always a bow or crossbow, but arrows tend to end.
Both weapons and armor (light, medium or heavy) differ not only in terms of damage or defense, resistance against certain types of enemies, but also in weight. And in theory it is necessary to decide whether it is worth sacrificing maneuverability for the sake of higher parameters. I did not notice much difference in the speed of movement, but, perhaps, simply because I did not allow a very strong advantage.
Directly in fights, you can apply poison to weapons.
It is with the equipment that we develop the character throughout the entire game. Plus the aforementioned dishes that increase health reserves – the ability to cook and eat them is given mainly according to the plot and not too often. But there is no experience or souls, and, accordingly, we do not get new levels.
The problem is that among the items there is practically no something unique, with special properties like additional elemental damage – but a lot of roughly the same stuff. And even according to the drawings, the blacksmith often does what we do not need at all. It is impossible to order a specific item and see what happens in advance – forging every time resembles a lottery.
Can you find a reference to The Elder Scrolls here?
Therefore, we rarely use the services of a blacksmith. And the merchants generally make sense to buy bottles of poison that can be applied to weapons. Stocks of arrows and beetle juice, which restores health, are usually replenished in the process of exploring locations. We also find useful equipment there without any blueprints.
Fortunately, as in any metroidvania, Tails of Iron has many paths – you are free to deviate from the main goal and go to explore the surroundings. In the process, you can stumble upon an optional boss, a skeleton clutching a useful shield, or a chest where you will find a statuette – perhaps it will help open one very important door.
Yes, there are secrets here.
It will be possible to get to some places only after we find a heavy weapon capable of breaking obstacles, or we learn to avoid damage from poisonous fumes. In general, everything is standard – sometimes even too much. There are not enough more interesting moves, fantasy, unusual abilities that open access to new locations.
There is also a lack of a normal teleport system. In Tails of Iron, a lot of often have to return to where there is a chest with equipment – only there we can change weapons and armor. And there are such chests either in settlements or at save points, and even then not at all.
But the card is convenient.
Tails of Iron is good for its atmosphere, graphics and combat system. Everything else is either too trivial, or not brought to mind. Another thing is that the game puts just the atmosphere, the picture and the battles – this was enough for me to play, lose, endure and go into battle again. But the game still did not realize its potential.
Pros: dark atmosphere; dramatic setting; high-quality combat system; challenging and cool bosses; picturesque hand-drawn graphics and atmospheric music.
Cons: many identical, boring quests; in many ways unnecessary backtracking; a lot of approximately the same items of equipment, which cannot be gotten rid of.