In the genre of turn-based tactics, it would seem that everything was invented a long time ago - after Phoenix Point for sure. However, the authors of Iron Danger decided to originalize and proposed a "unique mechanics of time manipulation." But did such experiments benefit the game?
The authors claim that the plot of Iron Danger is inspired by the Finnish folk epic Kalevala. True, in addition to the big city of the same name, where we spend not so much time, little remains of folklore in the friv game. This city is a refuge for people who rebelled against the gods who once walked the earth and refused to defend them. Naturally, they decided to punish the insolent - and now the offensive of the witch-queen begins on Kalevala from the northern lands. And then there are the ancient ruins, scattered in abundance in the local forests and valleys, exude the power of magic fragments, which all interested parties to the conflict, naturally, really want to tidy to their raking hands.
And in the middle of all this is the young Kipuna, who, as a result of the attack on her native village, almost died from one of these fragments. But she returned to the world of the living and gained incredible abilities. Now she knows how to manage time and even death, heal, burn everything that can be set on fire, freeze water, grow bushes on bare ground - naturally, to burn them again. True, many abilities open after finding a new fragment - they need to be collected all in order to find out the true purpose of the girl.
This, in fact, we are doing almost the entire friv game. We sail on our ship with our partners to the right place, we fight to the temple, then we search and, fighting off the enemies, set fire to special altars to open the gate to the temple. And there we are already fighting again and we are looking for another fragment, we return on the same road, listen to the next batch of dialogs about how Kipune got tired of all this, and sail to the next temple.
The authors, we must pay tribute, try to diversify what is happening, come up with different situations on the approaches to the temples and in themselves. Then at the exit from the ruins we fall into a trap, then you need to consistently destroy three infected trees in order to defeat a huge evil creature, remove the magic barrier and go on. We solve small puzzles, play hide and seek with golems, pour water from flooded rooms to open locked doors and get to the shard. You even have to take control of these iron golems to break through the walls.
But the essence of this changes little - a sense of monotony rolls inevitably. And this is all the more offensive because the potential is felt in the story itself. Around Kipuna and her missions, different people gather with their interests, who constantly say what she needs to do, and she herself is constantly tormented by the burden placed on her fragile shoulders - this creates an intrigue in anticipation of how it will end. And interesting plot twists are indeed present, but they are drowning under the weight of routine - for some reason, the authors prefer to drive us on the same missions most of the time. And besides, they left behind brackets free research, additional quests and everything that could turn Iron Danger into an exciting and great RPG.
The bet in the friv game is made on another - on constant battles. But with them everything is ambiguous. The mechanics of managing time and death, in fact, turns into a mix of a turn-based system and real-time - instead of move points, we use seconds, which are called heartbeats here. That is, we do not alternately perform actions by each of the two characters under our control, but at a pause (it turns on automatically in battle), we order one to hit, run away, use a skill or spell, which he immediately does and attacks at the same time . Then you can again perform the action with the same character or switch to his partner.
However, it’s even better to act two fighters at the same time - first assign one action or series of actions to one, then rewind time back and assign orders to the second. And start the "movie". Such a scheme resembles working in a video editor during editing - we start the desired scene, didn’t like something, remove, cut, unwind, insert what we need, combine, glue, start and see how everything turned out fine (or not). Did not work out? We unwind and change something again.
If the opponents succeed in striking at the moment when your wards do what you ordered them to, and someone dies or is seriously injured, then you will need to rewind time and order to do it differently - put the block, use the "skill" , allowing you to repel a flying arrow, run away from the line of fire or freeze / paralyze the enemy.
All this partly resembles Frozen Synapse and in some places it really allows you to act synchronously, tactically right and even beautifully - your fighters diverge in different directions so as not to fall into the general line of defeat and shelling, Kipuna throws a barrel of fuels under the feet of enemies, her partner immediately launches a grenade is in this area, and after a second the girl also adds a ball of fire.
And even better, if it pinches the enemy with poisonous roots, that one is poisoned and burns every second. You can also throw traps and shoot down logs with an arrow so that they fall on enemies. In boss battles, it’s also better to drop something heavy on them.
Such interactivity, the ability to set fire to the environment, spill oil from barrels, extinguish a fire with water or use traps evoke associations withDivinity: Original Sin (and slightly with Blackguards.
Still, there are more tactics in the same Frozen Synapse . Real time seconds are also used there, but with more control and planning. And Iron Danger has more chaos, spontaneity and attempts to guess how to save the character, rather than how to win.
Instead of planning, it often comes down to the fact that every second we nervously rewind time and bounce off enemy attacks or try to think of something else so that the fighter does not die. They saved one, at that time the second died, so we have to take him away from the blow, again unwinding time. And so in a circle. Yes, synchronized actions facilitate the situation, and in general these are quite interesting tactical puzzles, but, I repeat, there is a lot of spontaneity and fuss in them.
And all tactics are most often limited to the fact that we throw barrels, set fire to them and throw “fireballs” into a cluster of enemies and the same barrels. Other types of magic available to Kipun are less commonly used - especially when it comes to ice. And of the allies, only one is most useful - an archer. However, we have no opportunity to choose which of those who are sailing with the girl on the ship to take on a mission - everything is determined by the scriptwriters. There is no full-fledged role system - the maximum after the task you need to choose which of the character's skills to improve. The collection of loot and the fitting of equipment was also left overs.
I repeat, Iron Danger has potential - both in the plot and in the combat system, where you can really act synchronously and carry out beautiful tactical combinations. The friv game as a whole looks and sounds great, it has a gorgeous physical model. Dialogues and characters are also well written. With such data, she would play on the same field with Divinity: Original Sin , that is, try to become a full-fledged RPG with tactical battles, where you need to mix elemental effects and use an interactive environment.
However, the authors decided to focus on battles and monotonous combat missions. And in order to stand out, they invented a bicycle in a tactical system: there really are interesting ideas there, but questions arise for implementation. As a result, mixed feelings remain - to play Iron Dangerand you can even have fun, but the feeling that everything could be much better does not leave.
Pros: character images are well written; the original combat system in some places allows for beautiful tactical combinations between two characters; high level of interactivity of the environment in fights; excellent physical model; rich picture; epic music.
Cons: monotonous missions; tactical mechanics are not brought to mind and overloaded; There are no full-fledged pumping and equipment selection systems.