The DioField Chronicle is a very weird game. Let me rephrase that…the game is an outlier. This game literally was just announced a few months ago and seemingly rushed to release to coincide with the holiday season.
On top of that, it’s not an action game or a shooter. It’s an RTS RPG, a very rare combination in a genre that’s not really known to many.
Normally, that’d mean the game would be of dubious quality.
That’s really not the case here though.
What is The DioField Chronicle?
The DioField Chronicle is a single player RTS RPG. It’s developed by Square Enix and Lancarse, published by Square Enix (and Bandai Namco in South East Asia). It’s out now and available for PC, Nintendo Switch and the Playstation and Xbox conoles.
Our copy’s gifted to us by the great people at Bandai Namco!
The DioField Chronicle, despite being an RPG, doesn’t really have a great plot.
Its story of political intrigue is decent but isn’t helped by the convoluted factions and nations that populate the game’s world. World building with deep lore is fine, but The DioField Chronicle forces its history down your throat, leaving you gasping for air as you try to recall who belongs to what faction.
Thankfully, the main characters’ motivations are pretty basic (and kind of relatable to be honest) so you won’t be left floundering about what their intensions are. The player characters lead a mercenary unit called the Blue Foxes, which is a private military company beholden to one of the game’s nobles.
As you play, the Blue Foxes slowly get stronger, as you use your funds to upgrade the company’s HQ. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Suikoden in a sense but without the hands-on nature of doing things personally, as in that game.
You don’t build up your HQ as much as throw money at NPCs to level things up.
While you can walk around the HQ, there’s really not much point to it. You can warp around to the various rooms and corridors of the building so thankfully you don’t need to waste time travelling to and fro.
Quest givers are clearly shown (as are shops, and other important places) on the map, which makes things much easier too. On the flip side, it also makes the large HQ relatively pointless.
Outfitting your company is easy enough, though in a twist, you can also attach a secondary unit to the ones you field. The secondary unit levels at a much slower pace, but the upside is that they allow the unit they’re attached to access to their skills.
You can of course reinforce your soldiers with the same unit types, but I found that pairing them with other classes worked much better. Having a cavalry unit that can tank, heal AND run around the battlefield? Yes please.
It’s a bit unfortunate that the UI is so convoluted in some aspects.
There are menus upon menus to navigate just to change your gear or to swap pairings. You need to visit an NPC too to learn skills on the Skill Tree instead of it just being an option on your menu. It’s the same for weapon development and other things too.
I get that it’s more immersive this way and gives the base more use but sometimes you just want the convenience of managing everything in one place, you know?
In-game it’s not that much better either. Switching between characters is cumbersome and while you can select everybody at once to give orders to, things get much fiddly on an individual level as you try to micromanage your units in battles.
One thing that the game doesn’t really do well is convey the sense that you’re leading a group of mercenaries.
There aren’t any wages to pay, you don’t get any input of your course of action and there’s really not much onscreen presence at all for the rest of the company apart from the main characters. You don’t even get any input on how you want to grow your base. Speaking of which, the base is largely empty of NPC soldiers too…weirdly for being a private military outfit.
It feels more like you’re leading a small platoon of men than a company of mercenaries because even in battles, it’s just your handpicked units that’ll do the fighting.
Battles are cool enough, especially as they’re in real time. There’s an option to speed up the pace but weirdly, there’s no way to slow it down or pause the gameplay while you consider actions. The game does pause when you open up the skill menu, so I use that as a crutch to pause and to plan in the middle of fights.
There’s a huge emphasis on flaking so battles usually degenerate into the tank aggroing every enemy within range, with your DPS going to the back of the enemies and attacking for critical damage. Like MMORPGs, enemy skills have a telltale area of effect indicator that fills up as the move charges. Some battles can be frantic hit and runs because of this, which is pretty cool as you need to constantly be on your toes.
Honestly, I enjoyed the lite RTS stylings of The DioField Chronicle’s battle system. I just wish it had more depth to it. As it stands, this is literally the RTS version of how you’d play with an MMO. Tank runs in to draw aggro with the mobs, then the rest pile in when the mobs have their backs turned.
Where’s the strategy I was promised?
Yeah you have skills and moves and they do require precise positioning to be the most effective but I was expecting more nuance to it. Perhaps height advantage for ranged attacks or morale for units that go up and down as the battle goes on.
Instead what’s in the game feels like a watered down version of what could’ve been a very decent gameplay system.
I really hate the fact that pretty much every map in the game have enemies spawning in after you clear the map. It eliminates strategy because how strategic can you be with enemies that just pop in? Sometimes I just give up on the flanking and just charge right at these newcomers before spamming my skills and summons.
Works like a charm.
Despite the simplistic battle system, I won’t deny that it isn’t fun.
The skills and special moves are flashy and you can even do summons after you charge your Magilumic Orbs (think Materia from Final Fantasy) enough from killing enemies or nabbing orbs from the battlefield.
The summons are devastating and are great to use in a pinch.
Bahamut’s the first summon you get and he kicks things off with a bang. Literally. His Mega Flare attack (Final Fantasy fans will recognize it instantly) literally blows up a chunk of the battlefield and does considerable damage to foes caught in its AOE.
Other summons heal or buff your team and some even do damage so you can mix and match which orb you bring to the battlefield to suit your playstyle.
Later on in the game, you can even upgrade your summons with the materials you get from completing bonus objectives in battles.
It’s all a pretty cool incentive to keep your equipment up to date, while still allowing you to grind if you wish. Speaking of grinding, it’s not essential but let’s just say that you’ll want to do so.
Since stages have rewards attached to fulfilling special conditions, you’ll definitely want to revisit stages again with a stronger team if you missed the special rewards the first go round.
The Bottom Line.
With its simplistic battle system and plot, I’d have bet good money that I wouldn’t have enjoyed The DioField Chronicle. Yet, I did.
It’s not without its issues but there is fun to be had in the game.
The battle system works well, the visuals (especially the drawn artwork) are very well done and the voice acting (I played with the English voices) are also deserving of praise. These elements combine to provide a decently enjoyable RTS that great for beginners to the genre before moving on to classics like Company of Heroes or Dawn of War.
If there’s a sequel, hopefully the battle system gets expanded into something deeper and more interesting.
Decent fun but simplistic battles and plot.
- Interesting characters.
- Good art design.
- Flashy skills and summons.
- Fun fights.
- Simplistic battle system.
- Needs better control over individual units.
- Basic plot.
- Doesn’t really feel like you’re leading an elite mercenary unit.