People In Weak Houses Shouldn’t Throw Fire Arrows

HIGH The fusion of two strategy types is a joy.

LOW A 97% chance to hit means nothing.

WTF Goblins of the world unite.

Fort Triumph is such a simple proposition that I’m surprised that I haven’t played a game like it before. The concept is to fuse two great turn-based strategy titles together – XCOM and Heroes of Might and Magic – and then to print money with the resulting product. Thankfully, Fort Triumph does not disappoint.

A colorful turn-based strategy set in a fantasy world, Fort Triumph’s campaign follows four heroes – an archer, a magic wielder, a paladin, and a barbarian – as they uncover unrest and intrigue that lead them to preventing an undead uprising. The story is built around levity, and the humor works as the heroes bicker their way through each of three chapters.

Gameplay is split between two modes.

The first is an isometric map in which heroes travel around the overworld collecting resources, upgrading their bases, and managing their teams. The second is when the player encounters a fight or story mode, things switch to an isometric, tactical, turn-based scenario.

In these skirmishes, the units follow the basic rules of XCOM — there are action points used for abilities and movement, there are percentage odds on hitting a given target, and the ever-prevalent ‘overwatch’ system where vigilant characters lock down an area and fire at enemies who move is also here.

The character archetypes all have unique traits, and the player is required to play to their strengths to get the most out of them. The archer and magic wielder are soft, long-range damage dealers, the barbarian is a close-range fighter with debilitating after-effects, and the Paladin is a tank/healer hybrid.

As the campaign progresses, characters will level up and develop new skills. There permadeath element to consider (that can be turned off for the light-hearted), so any character that dies in an encounter may be removed permanently.

The melding of the genres works really well from the start, but Fort Triumph does not rest on those laurels. Introduced in combat are abilities that allow for destroying cover, pushing enemies back, and fire propagation. Used properly, these will give any player a win against superior odds.

For example, the Paladin has a kick ability that can push small rocks, and even knock walls over. If any of these things collide with an enemy, they will become stunned and unable to attack in the next round. The light bulb moment for me was when I realized that I could kick enemies into other enemies, and cause chain effects to all of them. I had a second light bulb moment when I realized that I could then do this with the goal of sending enemies through overwatch zones and stack damage.

These systems encourage the player to be more aggressive, to take risks and use the overwatch (usually a more defensive tactis) in more dynamic ways. When things come together, it turns every battle into a puzzle where enemies can be lined up like billiard balls that the player can chain with one good attack.

Fire propagation is equally devious, even though one of the tool tips encourages against it. Setting fire to edifices and trees will cause them to take damage and then ‘explode’ in flames, which then spread to surrounding items. It’s possible to set almost anything on fire, and due to some basic physics, destroying enough walls will bring a house down to do damage to anyone using it for protection. In most games of this ilk, a good piece of cover means safety. In Fort Triumph, cover is a liability.

Alongside the campaign, there’s a skirmish/multi mode that can be played with bots, competitively (or cooperatively) in hotseat mode with friends. This skirmish mode also allows for picking different factions (goblins, undead, humans) that come with their own strengths and weaknesses. The world maps are procedurally generated, so there’s a decent variety between games.

Before heartily endorsing Fort Triumph, I will warn buyers that if they’re allergic to the ‘My 95% shot missed, but the AI keeps hitting on 20% chance shots’ staple of the genre, this is not solved here. it’s something that fans of turn-based strategy titles have grown to deal with, but I doubt anyone has grown fond of it. That irritation aside, Fort Triumph is an amazing title that brings a fresh perspective to both of genres it blends, and I can’t wait to see what the developers do next.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by CookieByte Entertainment and published by All in! Games. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S/, PS4, Switch, PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBX. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. 2 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence and Blood. The game does have minor blood splatters and characters can face permadeath, which might be distressing for a younger audience.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. (See examples above.) The game does not require audio cues to play. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram, Left Stick is used for moving the cursor, A button confirms, B button cancels, RB and LB moves through skill menus, LT and RT switches between characters and options, the Right Stick has camera controls.

AJ Small
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