Mercenaries Blaze: Dawn of the Twin Dragons Review (Switch)
Release Date: December 17, 2020
File Size: 491MB
Publisher: CIRCLE Entertainment
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
The tactics genre is one that I personally feel is easy to implement, yet hard to master. While it’s not hard to pick up the key components that make a tactics game a tactics game, bringing it together in an overall satisfying experience is much more difficult. This is not the first Mercenaries game that has appeared on the Switch, and it has carved its own space amongst the other tactics games as a budget option for those looking to scratch that itch. With this new Mercenaries title joining the lot, does it remain more of the same, or does this new addition shine above the rest?
Mercenaries Blaze is a standard SRPG, along the same lines of Fire Emblem and Disgaea. You control a party of characters, each with their own classes and abilities. The game is turn-based, with you starting the battle, and once you have used all of your units, your opponent goes next. You are able to move a unit, then attack or use a skill or item (or visa versa). If you accidentally move your unit to the wrong spot, you are able to reverse your movement. However, you can’t reverse an action, so if you attack or use an item by accident, then you’re out of luck for that round.
As you win battles, you will collect skill points that can be used to unlock and upgrade current and new skills and classes that you learn. This is something that you’ll need to keep on top of, along with constantly upgrading your equipment with new items that appear in the shop with each main story battle won. The higher that you upgrade your skills, the more potent they become. And when you’re in the later battles where dealing and healing large amounts of damage each turn is the difference between life and death, this is a simple step to maintain to cut back on any headaches that may come from playing.
Reinforcements are also a constant for most story battles in this game. And since reinforcements can move and attack the same turn that they appear, be aware of your surroundings at all times, because the tide of a battle can change easily due to enemy reinforcements appearing when you least expect it, right nearby.
Along with keeping up with updating skills, classes, and equipment, you’ll also be grinding quite a bit. Taking a page out of more retro games, Mercenaries Blaze isn’t one where you can just coast from one story battle to the next (or at least, not very easily). The beginning of the game in particular has a bit of a difficulty curve, but once you get into the habit of grinding, making use of your defense and high attack skills, and not being too ambitious with your movements, things become a lot easier.
Narrative and Aesthetics
The main plot of the story revolves around the issue of illegal immigrants in the kingdom of Euros. Due to the wars in the surrounding areas, many refugees had made the land their home. However, due to complaints from citizens, the kingdom of Euros decided that only those immigrants that accepted Euros’ religion as their own could remain, and any that did not comply and leave would be thrown into camps. As you go through the story, the main character, Lester, and his team of mercenaries, the Twin Dragons, will have their beliefs put to the test as they learn that everything that has been told to them isn’t quite what it seems.
The Mercenaries series has never been known for stellar storytelling, and unfortunately, that remains the case with this new entry. While a daring topic to decide to go with, the way that the story is told leaves much to be desired. Plot points are revealed in a way that leaves the player wondering if that is really it. The writing itself feels awkward, stilted, and rushed.
That awkwardness carries on with the tutorials in the game, as well. While it is nice that the game allows you to choose whether you wish to see the tutorials or not, the tutorials are pretty much just blocks of text. One of the tutorials related to a battle mechanic didn’t even appear during battle, but outside of it. I’m sure that for some people, this kind of tutorial works just fine for them. But for me, it felt kind of haphazardly thrown in.
All of the characters appear as both pixel models as well as 2D portrait art while the backgrounds appear to be 3D. Unfortunately, much like the storytelling, the actual designs of the characters and the maps leave something to be desired. The art itself looks nice, and the pixel art brings back a feeling of nostalgia of older SRPG games of the past. But outside of that, the designs didn’t leave much of an impression on me. The music is alright, fitting the tone of the atmosphere, but not in any way memorable.
Impressions and Conclusion
Mercenaries Blaze is a title that just doesn’t really stand out in any particular way. Rather, everything feels just about middle of the road. The story, while interesting in some respects, is told in a way that feels way too simple. Having a little bit of experience with the other Mercenaries titles on the Switch, I found myself feeling a sense of deja vu a few times throughout the game. While the game does offer two routes to play through, the game is still relatively short when cutting out the time for grinding.
As one of the cheaper SPRG options of the Switch, Mercenaries Blaze isn’t the worst choice that you could make if you’re looking to scratch that tactics itch. But in the same vein, there are quite a few better choices to make, as well. That said, if you are already a fan of the other Mercenaries titles on the Switch, then this game should be right up your lane.