The recently released Toy Tactics’ gameplay is unique but is it enough to cover its downsides? Here is our review of Toy Tactics, a look at its story and gameplay.
Toy Tactics is a real-time strategy game available for PC. It entered Early Access back on March 17, 2023. I will mostly be covering the gameplay, as well as some of the story. There won’t be many spoilers in this review, so feel free to read on.
Without further ado, let’s get into our review of Toy Tactics, its gameplay, story, and more.
Toy Tactics Review
Toy Tactics Background
As mentioned above, Toy Tactics is a real-time strategy game. Players control a certain number of units and must use them to accomplish various objectives. This carries from capturing points to taking down all of the enemy’s units. It’s much like any other RTS games I’ve played before. However, it does have one gameplay feature that makes it different from other RTS games I’ve played.
Toy Tactics Gameplay
One of Toy Tactics’ main selling points, and the feature that got me interested in the first place, was the ability to manually draw the formation of your units. Using the Brush of High Command, players can draw whatever formations they want their units to take. Do you want a basic line that can protect your base from incoming attacks? Maybe you want a wedge to split the enemy formation into two for easier fights. Or even still, maybe you want to draw a stick figure and have your units walk across the battlefield as if it was a giant walking man? As long as the player can draw it, the units under your control will form it with their ranks.
What’s even better is that it’s intuitive. If you want to split your units in half, all you have to do is draw two separate lines. It’s way easier than having to drag-select half of your units and making them move away like in your typical RTS. Joining them into one big unit is even easier, as the player just has to drag their formation drawings together. All-in-all, I find this gameplay mechanic interesting, and rather intuitive. The problem, however, is that when the fights do start, it doesn’t matter all that much.
For context, let me bring up Total War: Warhammer III. In that game, you have a slightly more primitive version of the formation system that Toy Tactics has. Players can spread out their units or compress them in a line. The longer the formation, the fewer rows there are, just like in real-life battles. However, when the battles do start, your units try to maintain their formation, just like in real life. This isn’t the case in Toy Tactics. Numerous times have I tried making a wedge formation to try and split enemy units apart. However, what ends up happening is that the units at the end of the wedge go forward and attack nearby enemies. The wedge that I drew for my units’ formation ended up becoming useless as the units themselves engaged the enemy in a somewhat crooked line instead.
This may seem like a very specific nitpick, but I believe it’s something really important to consider. For a game that emphasizes using the player’s creativity to create army formations on the spot, the unit AI doesn’t seem to care all that much. After the first few instances of this happening I just went back to using normal line formations instead, as that was how battles end up anyway: a line of soldiers fighting a line of soldiers. What’s the point of making elaborate formations when it’s only present before and after combat?
The novelty of the drawing gameplay mechanic does wear off fast, sadly. Once it did, I had to look at the game’s other features to find the motivation to keep playing. In the game’s defense, its other features are good. The variety of units available makes it fun to play. This partnered with the variety of blessings the player can equip to change up their army, makes for an interesting combination. Players can fine-tune their armies and blessings to match the battlefield. Not only that, but I liked the small puzzles available on the map. From the simple button puzzles to having to split your army accordingly to protect objectives, the game provides just enough variety to prevent it from getting boring fast.
There were also various spells and powers that the player could use to quickly turn the tide of battle. This carries from catapult and meteor attacks to calling a large number of reinforcements. Players could even create walls to prevent the enemy from advancing. Battles that I thought I would lose would suddenly become winning fights as my powers would come in clutch. These powers can quickly change how the fight is going, so it made each battle fun.
Other than the gameplay, there’s also the story to keep me interested, even if a little.
Toy Tactics Story
The story of Toy Tactics revolves around a Draugr invasion. Taking control of the Imperium, Pendragon, and Kyoukai army (representing Rome, England, and Japan respectively), the player must fight back against the Draugr horde that is threatening to take over the world. The player will find themselves fighting across the whole of Europe and Japan to drive the enemy horde back from whence they came.
Toy Tactics, like most RTS games, doesn’t really have much of a compelling story. This isn’t to say that RTS games can’t have a good story. It’s just that sometimes the RTS gameplay doesn’t complement the story well. Toy Tactics story revolves around you, the player and strategist, fighting back against the big bad of each campaign story. The narrator’s quips and the in-game dialogue prevent the usual monotony of RTS games from taking hold. However, it still wasn’t really enough. I know I probably shouldn’t be expecting a great story from an RTS game, but I can’t really help it. A compelling narrative makes or breaks a game for me, and no matter how beautiful a game is (or nicely stylized in the case of Toy Tactics), if the story doesn’t grab me then I can quickly lose interest in the game.
That isn’t to say that the story doesn’t have its moments. The amount of blatant comedy, as well as some fourth-wall-breaking quips, is enough to get a chuckle from me. The voice acting in the game, although not great, was good enough that the joke deliveries hit. I guess in a way, that’s all that really matters.
Toy Tactics Review Summary
Toy Tactics is a fun game to play now and then. Although players can finish it in a sitting or two, I don’t think it’s something that you should do. Space out your playtime so that you don’t get bored, and don’t really expect too much out of it. Try not to think too much about the drawing mechanic, and treat it instead like you would the usual drag-select mechanics. That should keep you playing for a little longer after the drawing’s novelty wears off.
I believe that this game would have done better as a mobile game. It has all of the makings of one: a drawing-based gameplay that fits a tablet or phone screen, simple enough graphics, a comedy-filled story, and more.
Editor’s Note: ClutchPoints received a PC review copy of Toy Tactics to allow us to cover the game. This copy did not, in any way, affect this Toy Tactics review’s verdict.
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