Analysis of Tails of Iron, a more brutal RPG than it seems
“A simple and enjoyable RPG, marred by some questionable mission design decisions.”
Art direction and storytelling
The combat or management systems are simplified, but they work
The “secondary but obligatory missions” design works against you
The action RPG genre is one of the most diversified in the last decade. In the 2000s it was practically limited to what studios like Bethesda or Bioware proposed, but the situation has changed and now any game can be an action RPG, regardless of the perspective, the art direction or if it mixes mechanics from other titles.
Tails of iron is a good example of how an action RPG can be with all its lyrics even when the presentation or some of the mechanics are on the simpler end of the spectrum. The game, developed by the British studio Odd bug studioIt has a style more typical of a children’s story and its mechanics are far from being convoluted. However, during combat he has no problem making the protagonist fall in three blows if the player is not attentive to what happens every second.
A tale of mice and frogs
Tails of iron it could well be a children’s story. The protagonist is the son of the king of rats, who have lived in peace for a while until the frogs came, destroyed the kingdom and killed the king. The protagonist assumes the crown of a massacred town and from then on everything is about restoring the glory to the place, one mission at a time.
The game is narrated – in the style of a children’s story – by Doug Cockle, an actor known for his role as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3. The tone that Cockle uses does not change in practically anything with respect to the role that made him known and that ends up being a point in favor of the setting, since his voice is associated with epic adventures in an RPG key. In addition, the protagonists do not speak, but communicate with sounds and text balloons, therefore, it is the narration that sets the tone of the game.
Tails of iron It is a game that looks like it is drawn by hand. I do not know exactly if this is so, but it is the impression left by both the characters and the settings, which stand out for the lines on the edges and which, I insist, could be taken from a story.
The game map is not gigantic, but even the smallest rooms and venues are dense with elements and do not give the impression that something is repeating or filling.
The presentation is a high point of Tails of iron, which draws attention from the first minute.
Tails of iron looks friendly from the start menu and on the first few steps through the levels until inevitably there comes a time when, out of nowhere, the protagonist Redgi is defeated without warning by an enemy that at first glance seems harmless.
Behind the friendly presentation there is a game that in general is not more difficult than average, but with some very marked difficulty points that can complicate everything more than necessary. First of all, this game is not a soulslike Nor does it include similar mechanics such as losing experience or money upon death. Here everything is more traditional in terms of progression in the game: enemies and bosses can give more of a headache if played without paying attention to the various attack indicators of the rivals.
Each enemy has several attacks and most of them are warned in advance. Some cannot be dodged and you just have to step out of range. Others can be counterattacked, provided the right button is pressed at the right time. And when there are several enemies on the screen, everything gets complicated because the game, being in two dimensions, does not give much space to escape. Also, each enemy attack takes a lot of energy; with a couple of blows received it is normal to be in trouble.
Something similar happens with bosses, because these, in addition to having much more resistance, vary their attack patterns that will depend on the progress of the combat. As the game progresses, it is normal to have to make several attempts in some combats that require memorizing these patterns and react faster than against normal enemies. In my case, some bosses gave me more problems than was appropriate and I had to make adjustments to the equipment, at the risk of getting stuck in a loop infinity against a particular enemy.
Tails of iron has a simple inventory scheme that indicates strengths or weaknesses of a weapon without an infinite number of numbers or anything like that; everything is very visual and not complex at all. Also, Redgi’s progress is mainly measured by the new equipment that is collected or by increasing the health bar, since here you do not have to manage levels or statistics as in the more traditional RPGs.
Even so, that is a remarkable aspect, since the mechanics of the game are more simplified in certain respects. Despite this, Tails of iron It never stops being an action RPG that uses the classic 2D platforming system to navigate the scenarios, although this is neither Mario Bros. either Metroid; it is an ordinary role-playing game, in horizontal perspective.
In what Tails of iron lags a bit behind is in the design of some missions. There is a moment near the middle of the game in which to be able to advance it is necessary to complete secondary missions, which give as a reward some coins that there is no other way to get and that are necessary to complete a of the main adventures.
This is clearly a design issue that other games — even some higher-budget ones — fall into as well: the side missions are always similar (go to a location, take out an enemy, collect the reward) and eventually become repetitive. Especially when the required number of coins to advance is high and there is no other option but to go through the secondary board and spend some time completing them.
In my opinion, it’s the filler missions that prevent Tails of iron stand out more. Because the rest of the components are more than just correct. The art direction is very good and those combat capsules that last a couple of minutes are always very satisfying.
In return, too much time is spent in a constant round trip to activate missions, especially secondary ones. This increases the duration of a game that by default is not very long —8 to 10 hours the main campaign—, but that extra time is not of quality, but on the contrary: it causes you to want a quick method to return to the board of secondary missions.
Usually, Tails of iron It is a good game, with a very good presentation and a correct combat system, only clouded by sections in which repetitive missions leave a somewhat bitter taste. It would not be strange if more than one person abandons the game in that section, which is both a pity and a kind of lesson for other studies – big and small – about what not to do to increase the hours of the game. That video games are short is not a sin.
Tails of iron is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, Nintendo Switch, and PC for $ 25.