Oct 19, 2017 Last Updated 2:01 AM, Oct 19, 2017

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire Review

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What would you do if the Astral Empire stopped contacting your home planet?

Would you fight against the false Empire or re-create the true Astral Empire? But what is the real Astral Empire?

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire is a dynamic cinematic journey with large-scale and turn-based combat that are both smart and engaging. Its mechanics are fun; they create a fresh and imaginative take on the turn-based tactical game. One of my personal favorites is the ability to ambush, hiding inside a designated location and poping out when an enemy is near, of course for extra damage. You must be vigilant, and you can pop out at any time, even during the enemy's turn. Lighter mercenaries are best for such playstyle, as their agile ways will cause massive casualties to enemy forces.

You control fighters in numbers, and having control over who to pick is excellent. A real treat for the grand strategy lover, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire does a great job at making you feel in charge of a platoon or army regiment. At the same time, it streamlines information well. All the character stats you'll need to make smart calls in battle, for example, is displayed by hovering over the fighter.

You'll control groups of them, and they take turns in groups, classified by class. That means "Light mercenaries" take turns together; Knights move as a unified group.

The formers are quick, and if they kill an enemy during their turn, they can continue fighting. That until they run out of moves. Heavy Mercenaries, on the other hand, have AOE attacks. They can influence and control what is called the "Area of Denial" (love it), with an auto-attack mechanic to protect against the enemy moves. As you might expect, the heavily armored units benefit from high defense and provide a quality backbone to your formations, which become essential as the enemy closes in on you and your other mercenaries.

Then are Archers, whose line of sight and ability to target depends on the environment. Early in-game, they come off as underwhelming, even a handicap for your army as a whole. Why? Because their slow attrition can make your fighters weak, once the heavy hitters move in. Yet with the proper combination of fighter types, and a shrewd anaylisis of the terrain, they can become a deadly force to reckon with, and your key to success.

Tahira excels at making you feel that all is lost, that you are on the brink of oblivion, and as every other great strategy game out there, it forces you to think tactically. Do so, and you can turn the battle around. And I'll argue that the feeling you'll get, when you realize that victory is now in sight, rivals in joy the satisfaction bigger contenders of the genre have managed to simulate in recent years, among seasoned gamers of the genre.

Furthermore!

The story is excellent, albeit a bit of a slower pace than your average game. Treat it like a good novel: it's eventful, packed with mystery, and there's always another question mark, or strange occurrence happening around the corner. I was drawn, I felt invested in characters, and for a strategy game, that's nothing less than added value you wouldn't expect.

You follow the Princess Tahira, as she wrestles power back from the false Astral Empire who laid waste across the planet. Once upon a time, there existed a space-faring civilization that, for whatever reason, stopped communicating with our planet. As a result, all sorts of folks began creating power plays. The result? A false Astral Empire who has dreams of genocide, who fantasizes of conquering the alleged “sub-humans.” Which you so happen to rule over.

Flashbacks, intrigues, and various religious institutions are part of the fun. Tahira makes you feel like you are trapped on a planet of conflicting interests, and out of contact with the greater universe, hardly remembering it even.

Yet, it all feels so close... Nearby...

Graphics are fun and amusing, in a classic and distinctive cell-shading style. The crispy clean looks keep you immersed; the artwork brings personality to the overall atmosphere. Every now and again, you'll even drop your jaw, with impressive background and visual designs.

On the downside, at times I felt the combat was a little bit too slow. Other times, overwhelming, with all the fighters on the screen. Battles does feel intimidating: lots of thoughts and strategies will be played out. You more than likely won't experience the same battle twice, and even if you did, no way would you be able to perfect a rotation and a rhythm considering how many fighters are being handled.

Having to restart a battle feels a bit like a tragedy, and may require a break to meditate on your insignificance within the greater scope of the galaxy. That's not a bad thing: go ahead and start over, you decide. Now another handful of hours has gone by. Is that the sun coming up in the sky? Yes it is. 

9

The Verdict

Shane Lynn

Shane's earliest memory of gaming was playing Contra on the original NES. Since then he has found a love for PC gaming, Pen and Paper Role playing, and Board games. His strongest passions are in the realms of fantasy and science fiction where he has developed countless worlds, stories, table top gaming systems, and an original board game. Outside of gaming, he'll be found dancing with crystals and talking with glowing nature spirits in his backyard.

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