Live by the Sword: Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG developed by Labrador Studios and published by GRAVITY GAME ARISE and is currently in Steam’s Early Access.
The game’s presentation, the sprite work and animations look wonderful and is reminiscent of a more modern Final Fantasy Tactics. Though the font and style of the menu and in-game UI look very old-school, they don’t blend well with the pixel art style of the game in general. The BGM is very generic and extremely repetitive, you get tired of listening to it very quickly.
In terms of gameplay, there’s a nice variety of skills that the characters can use and that makes the combat very fun, but enemy variety is almost nonexistent, it’s just pirates and thieves for the whole first act of the story mode and they all act the same. It would be great if you could give those pirates and thieves some class variety, though the combat is really fun, thanks to the nice skills variety, enemy AI decisions and the importance of the terrain usage, it’s just slow and lacking enemy variety right now. One of the main motivations with those type of games is progression and being invested with the characters, for Live by the Sword, what is the reward for overcoming a challenge or just beating a level in this game? In story mode you’ll just get a dialogue cutscene and the next fight, there’s nothing to look out for outside of that and the big issue here is that there’s no proper introduction to these characters thus not caring about them much, they mostly don’t speak about their motivations or background story and the dialogues are so vague and brief, yeah there’s something going on within the kingdom but the game never properly introduces you to what’s this thing going on throughout the whole first act which in my opinion the most important moment that you have for grabbing the player’s interest into the world and characters of your game.
In terms of progression, there’s no leveling system, no gear and items to collect, no skills to unlock and improve your characters, no class system, nothing. It’s a big turn off considering that fights are quite slow paced with no option to increase animation speed and the repetitive soundtrack keeps playing in the background. Then after completing act one, you’ll unlock the roguelike mode which I didn’t spend much time with because I was already tired of the overall slow-paced experience without any immediate progression system. I’ve completed a few battles in there and noticed that all the gold that I was winning needed to be immediately used to heal or replace my units making the game even slower than what I felt it was before.
I don’t want to sound too criticizing as the gameplay is fun despite its flaws and the game is still in Early Access. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics or other games of the genre, this might not be a recommendation at this current state, but we will definitely keep an eye on the progress as it definitely has potential.