When The DioField Chronicle was first announced, we must admit that its debut trailer didn't leave us impressed. Believe it or not, out-of-context dialogue slapped over janky-looking gameplay cuts isn't the best way to sell a project. Thankfully, Square Enix has made the right move in giving the game a lengthy playable demo ahead of its release on the 22nd September. Said demo is available now on PS5 and PS4, and having played through the whole thing, we're happy to report that we've done a complete 180 on the project.
This is a real-time strategy RPG, with a story that's driven by a cast of very English characters and plenty of political intrigue. The demo covers several key missions across the game's opening hours, and we're hoping that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a level of polish and confidence to The DioField Chronicle that you don't necessarily associate with Square Enix's AA output — it's clear that a lot of thought has been put into crafting this war-torn fantasy world.
As the headline of this article alludes, though, the game does feel a bit dull at times. Maybe it's the mostly emotionless dialogue — complete with incredibly calm and collected voicework — or maybe it's the title's colour palette, which is full of dark greys and moody blues. It's hard to say for sure, but it all feels very dry so far, to the point where some people might find themselves dozing off amidst talk of Lord William Hende's latest political conquest.
The names, by the way. It's got that recently revitalised Japanese RPG quality where every character has a name that somehow sounds more British or Northern European than actual British or Northern European names. Andrias Rhondarson, Fredret Lester, Izelair Wigan, Iscarion Colchester, and Waltaquin Redditch are your main party members across the demo. Bloody hell!
Snark aside, we do quite like these characters. The writing can be flowery — what else did you expect from a game called The DioField Chronicle? — but it does a good job of conveying each character's personality without having them drone on and on about their motivations. There's a nuance to the script that's fairly refreshing.
Okay, so what about the real-time strategy? Well, the demo doesn't go too in-depth — we imagine that the full release will be a rather slow burn — but we did enjoy our time on the battlefield. The user interface is thankfully straightforward, and battles move at a pace that doesn't overwhelm. It also helps that time is paused when you're picking a skill or item to use, which gives you a nice sense of overall control.
There are things like character classes and individual strengths to consider, but by and large, the demo looks to hammer the basics home; don't get surrounded, position your units to maximise their effectiveness, and make good use of your skills. We suppose that the combat system is actually quite straightforward — it reminds us of something like Fire Emblem in terms of accessibility — but the promise of additional depth is what has us excited for the full game.
The process of levelling up your characters and unlocking new abilities already has us hooked. It must be said that the game's got some well designed and lovely looking menus, which is great since you'll be spending a decent chunk of time looking at skill trees and weighing up each upgrade option. And, given the potency of the skills that you can unlock later on, we're all but convinced that the battle system will truly blossom when your characters are properly equipped.
It obviously all depends on how long the game is and how tactically engaging it can be over a full playthrough, but The DioField Chronicle has the potential to be a surprisingly special strategy RPG. Well worth keeping an eye on, and well worth trying the demo for yourself.
Have you tried The DioField Chronicle demo? Assemble your troops and march your thoughts to the comments section below.