I’m very optimistic about Fort Triumph. It’s a quirky role-playing strategy game that promises hardcore tactical gameplay where you can utilize everything in your environment to turn the tide to your favor. The small group of developers at Cookie Byte Entertainment wanted to invoke that feeling when you’ve sinked in minutes and hours on a round in Final Fantasy Tactics or X-COM: Enemy Unknown and nothing seems to be going right, but with your tenacity and smarts you manage to make one or a few moves to beat it. The battles of Fort Triumph will be like that—which sounds good on paper, but the result is definitely something currently in progress.
Fort Triumph is a successful Kickstarter campaign that has been in development for almost three years. Backers recently received Steam Early Access keys that includes a prologue (with a round of an optional tutorial) and a short campaign. In each one, you control the four main characters, women fitting in the four basic RPG archetypes (i.e., mage, paladin, savage, and ranger), with their own unique skill sets and statistics. You have to rely on all your characters, the environment, and your brain, because Lord knows your enemies are not holding back.
The combat is what the early access of Fort Triumph is showcasing, which makes sense, since that is what the Kickstarter campaign promised. It does deliver, with the fact that defeating enemies aren’t as cut and dry as running and hacking archers to pieces or flinging a lightning bolt to obliterate goblins. I mean, you can do that, but there’s also smarter ways to do it too. The environment is the key as well as your characters skill sets. First, you are going to face a ton of ranged enemies from archers to mages (and when I say “a ton,” there’s at least two or three in each round), so ducking for cover behind a tree stump or a rock crystal is a great way for the accuracy of your ranged enemies to dwindle. It also allows your ranged characters to set up a type of trap called “Overwatch” to automatically fire an arrow or a spell when an enemy comes within sight.
Second, with your knowledge of game physics, you can use that to your advantage. You see, in Fort Triumph, some of your characters skills have a kick to them…literally. For example, the savage’s Kick skill pushes back smaller-framed enemies and can cause additional damage and a stun effect if they hit an object or wall. What’s cool about it is that, in some cases, you can literally knock enemies to the water for an instakill or let a column collapse on them. All of the elements in the environment have hit points, so if that pesky goblin keeps hiding behind that big tree, you can get your mage to throw a fireball at the tree to raze it to the ground allowing your other characters to hone in on the coward.
Teamwork is a really important aspect in progressing through the campaigns in Fort Triumph. You need to be sharp and strategize on keeping your group together. You can’t just go ahead and power level that one character that you like and have her rushing through the level, because she will die. In this game, it almost seems like a recipe for disaster when one of your team members is donezo. For one, you are lacking an extra character to dish out damage or to provide support, and two, the enemies are ruthless even in the easiest setting.
The collaboration and combat are what make Fort Triumph great. With what I’ve experienced so far, I’m excited to see the direction the developers will take in fleshing out the final product. One of the things I want more development in is the character statistics and leveling up. Right now, when a character levels up, you’re only given an option to choose one new skills out of two choices. You also do not get to customize each character’s statistics, as I assume they’re already distributed after leveling up. I also want to get the chance to outfit my characters with new weapons and armor. I think that would be cool.
However, for now, Fort Triumph is heading in the direction of a good path. Its final build will determine whether it’s going to be a great tactical RPG or a mediocre one. If you’re on the fence about this one and want to try it out, you can head on over to the game’s Kickstarter page and download the demo.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.