The DioField Chronicle came as a surprise announcement at the March PlayStation State of Play. As a fan of strategy RPGs, I loved the trailer and saw this instantly jump up my list of must buys for 2022. Square Enix and developer Lancarse released a demo on August 10 for the upcoming title on PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch. While I anticipated liking the game, I downloaded the demo to see if my assessment was correct. Suffice to say, I know myself best.
The DioField Chronicle Debut Trailer
The DioField Chronicle Demo opens with a cutscene before you even get to the title page. It explains about the island of DioField and the peace experienced for centuries. However, an attack on a village disturbs this peace. The attack centers on an effort to kill a child of the royal family. Friends of the prince, Andrias Rhondarson and Fredret Lester, do what they can to prevent this, but fail.
The demo picks up eight years later with the pair along with a new character, Izelair Wigan, rescuing a traveler hunted by bandits. This traveler happens to be chosen with finding recruits for a new private army and asks the three to join, who gladly accept. This then sparks the events throughout the demo.
The DioField Chronicle story leans on a lot of common themes found in political war tales. For example, you get the sense from the onset that not all is known about Andrias or his true goals. There’s a governing council ruling the lands of DioField, but not all prove to be trustworthy. We also don’t fully know why this private army was founded to begin with.
Nothing earth shattering here, but all plot points that I find intriguing nonetheless. The presentation kept me engaged with each new unraveling of the plot and introduction of a new character. The demo wraps up at the end of the first chapter and leaves on a sizeable cliffhanger. It did a great job leaving me wanting to play more to see what happens next.
I started the demo while on vacation, so I started and finished it on the Nintendo Switch. Performance felt great and actually surprised me. Lancarse’s previous title, Monark, suffered greatly on the Switch according to reviews from gamers and critics. Sporting similar character models, I expected to experience drawback on the hybrid system. To my surprise, the game performed admirably in both docked and handheld mode.
I later compared it to the PC version and noticed a number of areas the Switch version pulled back to improve performance. The most noticeable difference was the slight grey or misting look the Switch version used on cutscenes. The best way to describe it is taking a photo in Adobe Photoshop and increasing the brightness a bit. There’s also a drop in textures and shading, but not enough to make it significantly noticeable. There were the occasional stutter or frame drops during cutscenes as well. However, I never noticed any big drops in battles.
The performance impressed me so much that, at the time of this writing, I’m not entirely sure what system I would want to get this for. Something I did not expect to think heading into the demo.
Combat takes place in real-time strategy battles requiring you to constantly adjust and give commands to your units. Positioning matters a lot as it impacts the target of the enemies as well as chance for bonus damage. As common with many games, units attacking from behind deal bonus damage. So putting your strongest attackers in the back makes quick work of battles. Each unit uses a different class that brings different skills to battle. You can also use summons in the game. These can deal a lot of damage to a wide area or be used to heal party members, depending on what you use.
Real-Time Strategy combat will likely be a divisive choice for those interested in the game. I already heard from several friends how the combat gave them a sour taste. They preferred using a turn-based system instead. I would normally agree, but the RTS system never bothered me through my playtime. I also imagine it will get more complicated and deeper the further into the game it gets.
Both the English and Japanese voice acting shine. I always switch between the two while I play to gauge which one I enjoy more and see how the actors portray different settings. Either one sounded and felt tied to what went on screen. Square Enix and Lancarse also chose enjoyable music for the game. None currently are stand outs to me, but I liked what I heard and do not feel I’ll grow tired of them.
Final Thoughts on The DioField Chronicle Demo
I went into The DioField Chronicle Demo expecting to enjoy it, but hoping it wouldn’t push me away. I’m glad my feelings on it stayed the same as before. I thoroughly enjoyed the taste of the story shown off. It feels the closest to a Final Fantasy Tactics tale without it being one. The cast all stood out in different ways and the subtlety of Andrias leaves me wanting to uncover the secrets he’s hiding. The combat looks to be deep and full of complexities that could make, or break, the experience for many. Thankfully, the game offers difficulty options so those wanting to just experience the story won’t be held back by difficult battles.
My only concern falls on its release date. The DioField Chronicle releases on September 22, right in the thick of a heavy release schedule. The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero releases on September 27, Valkyrie Elysium and Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth release a week later on September 29, and a month later is Star Ocean: The Divine Force on October 27. A new franchise can be a tough task alone, but surrounded by popular long-standing franchises will make it an even tougher task.
Yet, I feel the demo showcases enough intrigue and polish that The DioField Chronicle could be up to the task. The question centers around just what does Square Enix expect out of it and will it achieve those expectations.
The DioField Chronicle Releases on September 22 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
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