Review: Break Tactics (DSiWare)

Uninspired, but not broken

Strategy games come in many forms, but these days, subgenres like tower defence and resource management are far more commonplace than your traditional turn-based affairs. Break Tactics helps fill the void, and while it's a fine entry in the category, it doesn't innovate much either.

The game is reminiscent of Chess and a clear descendent thereof, though it's far from as tight of a framework. You'll set up a squadron and send it towards an opposing force with an objective like taking out its commander, destroying all of its forces or capturing its forts. You start out with five types and eventually gain four more, each with its own tile-based move and attack radius, and after each battle you gain break points with which to upgrade them in a small number of categories. Levels alter in terrain and starting point, creating somewhat different dynamics for each, though there's never a drastic change in gameplay.

After forming and setting up your battlements, you'll proceed toward the enemy, clicking where to go, which way to face and where to attack if you're able. Unfortunately it's dreadfully slow, and there's not much personality to keep things interesting or a speed-up button to expedite the enemy attack. It can quickly become quite tedious, and that's Break Tactics' biggest issue.

Strategising around these aspects keeps things interesting, and the basic framework is somewhat intricately designed, even down to the landscape, the different types over which you'll traverse affecting defence and attack power. Unfortunately, it takes a while to learn what to do and what to avoid, and when your strikes miss the opponent, it can seem a bit random as well. Because of this, the already slow gameplay is magnified tenfold by having to restart levels over and over until you get the hang of it. An undo/redo button would have solved this issue, but it's sadly missing. There are three save slots to help create restore points, though that's not the most efficient way of doing things and can further slow down the gameplay.

Another aspect that lets the gameplay down is that every battlement type has only one type of attack, so that every turn amounts to the same few steps, something that can become quite tedious. It's also unfortunate that there's no two-player mode on offer, as the ability to duke it out with a friend would have made this a much more worthwhile download.

That's not to say that the game is without value. Matches can still prove a lot of fun, and it's entertaining to try out different strategies to conquer your enemies and utilise alternate unit types when others fail. It's not bad, just very slow and generic.

The layout is simple and easy to grasp and the controls include both stylus and button-based commands, though we didn't find much use for the latter. There's also an easy to follow tutorial given by this lovely lady, so if you've never encountered the genre before, you can jump right in without much issue. Unfortunately there's only one difficulty level, and an easier mode with less re-starting necessary would have been proven quite welcome.

Some decent artwork adorns the top screen, but the rest of the graphics are quite bland. The music is inoffensive but generic and uninspired as well, and together they make the game feel even more like you're playing something that could have released on Windows 3.1.


A game of Break Tactics makes for a decent time thanks to its Chess-like turn-based strategy and somewhat complex framework of unit and terrain types, but it does little to improve upon or innovate the formula and can end up quite slow and tedious. Before you get the hang of it you'll have to restart matches quite a few times, and there are no alternate difficulty modes or undo/redo buttons to alleviate this. If you're up for something simple and deliberate this is worth a shot, but after extended play, most will find themselves breaking away from this decent but generic strategy title.

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