A throwback tactics game that could use some polish
PC, Xbox one
I think the games that I used to play most on my Nintendo DS were tactic style games. The Nintendo DS had an influx of old PSOne style tactics games that tried to use the DS touch with varying results in quality. However, since then, I’ve had a strange relationship with tactic style games and have found myself enthralled with them for better or worse. This is where Tears of Avia comes in to play. Recently released on both PC and Xbox One, Tears of Avia is a pretty large indie title by CooCooSqueaky Games that brings me back to older tactics games I played on the DS. It shares the same spirit as those older games, but it also shares the very same problems that most developers have already overcome.
Tears of Avia starts out pretty fast-paced by introducing the main quest right away. Your village is attacked because of the appearance of a mystical item called a tear appears nearby. This causes the main character and the heroes to set out on an adventure all while getting caught in a war between the two large city-states of Tirig and Helmgar. On your adventure, you are able to interact with the narrative and make choices that will affect the outcome of your story. Most of the time this is done through a visual novel format and not the actions that you take in the actual battle. I did not mind this much because I enjoyed the story and found it pretty interesting. Unfortunately the story did fall into tropes a lot of times and most of the battles had little to no story involved in them. This leaves most of the story elements taking place either in the town hubs or right after battles with little to no build-up. This style of the story progression grew tiring pretty fast because the biggest flaw Tears of Avia has is its combat. At the beginning of your journey you are asked to pick between five characters and experience the story through their point of view. It doesn’t really matter who you pick because you’ll be able to recruit the others to your party shortly after unlocking the first town hub. Each character has three skill trees that contain 11 skills each. The combat in this game is severely unbalanced; your party members level up really fast even by tactics standards. My main character, Renia, leveled up the fastest and before I had even collected the second tear I had already passed level 20 with half of my character skills unlocked. I was able to breeze through most of the fights. Tears of Avia does something that I like to call the Hoshigami syndrome. What happens is that all of the sudden the game throws dozens of enemies in an encounter outnumbering your party by 25 to 1. It doesn’t really increase the difficulty of the battles, it just pads the length out, making them pretty dull to get through.
A small thing that bothered me is that your player characters can not move through each other even if your range of movement goes past them. I’m not really sure I know of any other game that doesn’t allow you to pass through your teammates. There are also crazy long cinematics for most skills. Not only is this unnecessary, but it also takes away any sense of getting stronger from me while I was playing. Luckily, you can turn the skill animations off. However, that also turns off most enemy animations and there isn’t much in terms of enemy animation to begin. There’s not even a flinch animation for enemies when they take damage. I don’t know if it’s just a personal preference but I become unengaged when the enemies don’t seem to react to my attacks.
Apart from combat, the overall presentation and look of Tears of Avia are really lackluster and dated. The central town hub is filled with copy and paste NPCs that have no animation, even though there are a lot of them it feels really empty and lifeless. Honestly, I’m surprised by why it’s even there to begin with. It would have been a better choice to just have the town hub as a group of menus like other games and save the resources to use in other areas of the game. These town hubs are not small either with only a couple of interactable NPCs and awkward controls to move around the hub. It would have been a much more enjoyable experience if there was a quick menu that you could use to fast travel to these NPCs. Outside of this confusing choice, the seiyuu work is really amazing and while it doesn’t make up for the faults of the rest of the game, it stands out and shows the quality that could have been there.
Even with all of its faults you can tell CooCooSqueaky Games had a pretty big passion for making Tears of Avia. While it has all that passion behind it, it seems that they attempted to make something that was too large in scope for their team’s talent. It appears that the developer is listening to players and looking to fix areas of the game. Hopefully for their next project they will use the lessons learned and create an even better product. For an overview of Tears of Avia please visit the official websitehere!
Tears of Avia Review
Tears of Avia Review
Even with all of its faults you can tell CooCooSqueaky Games had a pretty big passion for making Tears of Avia. While it has all that passion behind it, it seems that they attempted to make something that was too large in scope for their team’s talent.