In this review of ours we will go to examine Tails of Iron, the second and rather peculiar work of the very small Odd Bug Studios which sees Mice and Frogs colliding, an endless war
Ah, the Soulslike. If you think about it, in the last few years you will have played, at least once, an action-rpg with mechanics of the subgenre. Used and abused from many points of view, the characteristics that define the Soulslike have been able to breach the hearts of the developers, who have implemented them in more or less valid titles. If Miyazaki's oeuvre is unattainable from certain points of view, it is precisely for this reason that it has been able to give birth to a real parallel trend, all devoted to dodging, parrying and a level of difficulty well above the average. From Salt and Sanctuary to Blasphemous, passing through less impactful titles such as Chronos: Before the Ashes, now Soulslike, as well as first-person psychological horror, have invaded the market.
You will understand well then that, when a small independent studio to its second work (and being the first a small exclusive VR title, The Lost Bear) comes up with a game with dark colors, in 2D and proclaiming it a "soulslike", some doubts there they came. We premise this from the beginning of this review: Tails of Iron managed to dispel them all. Available for some time on PC, PS4, PS5 Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and Nintendo Switch, the title captured us for about ten hours, before letting us go to finally be able to talk about it.
Mice and Frogs, the eternal rivals
The eternal war between Mice and Frogs had come to an end, with the victory of the first who had managed to flee the slimy creatures, creating a long period of peace and prosperity under the aegis of King Rattus. A righteous and just mouse, who led the kingdom towards social and economic growth, making it strong and thriving. Over time, however, Rattus has aged and weakened to the point of necessarily having to abdicate in favor of one of the two sons, who compete for the crown in a duel during the Tails of Iron tutorial.
Winner and protagonist of the title is his own Redgi, who immediately finds himself facing an unprecedented political and military crisis. Right at the end of the duel, in fact, the Frogs attack the arena and kill King Rattus on the spot, bringing devastation and death to the whole kingdom of the Mice again. Awakened in a destroyed Castle, Redgi then decides to set out in search of his faithful helpers kidnapped by the Frogs, under the guidance of his mentor, leaving behind a long trail of deaths (including his own) and battles.
The narration, in Tails of Iron, is simple and immediate and takes place without the use of any dialogue between the various NPCs present. In fact, if there is an omniscient narrator off-screen, voiced by nothing less than by Doug Cockle (historical voice of Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher), any form of conversation, whether spoken or in text form, has been completely removed from Odd Bug Studio. An odd choice to say the least, just as the way of communicating that Redgi will have with the other characters is odd, in the form of squeaks and balloons with images inside that give an idea of the narration. Of course, it will not be complex at all to follow the events, but it certainly remains one peculiar and not really appreciable choice, in our opinion.
Swinging Rhythm - Tails of Iron Review
What is certain is that the game world of Tails of Iron doesn't need a lot of frills to be alive and pulsating. The environments that will be explored are very few, but the tediousness of backtracking is limited by a constant evolution of the same. For example, the city of Long Tail will go from being completely destroyed and devastated by the war with the Frogs, with battles that will also take place in the background of our passage, to a state of reconstruction and, finally, to a return to the usual life activities. A great way to underline the advancement of the narrative and that our passage, and consequently our battles, will have made sense.
In the various settings there are also some bulletin boards on which secondary tasks are posted to complete for money and materials. If the latter are useful in the exchange with the merchants, who will be able to donate projects to take to the blacksmith (to unlock new weapons and armor), ammunition for ranged weapons and little else, the coins will be used, in different situations, to carry on the main story. This means that the narration will suffer, quite often, an abrupt stop, with our Redgi who will have to face enemies in the Arena or crap underground, to grab some coins and rebuild the current structure.
Soulslike, but not quite… - Tails of Iron review
Now let's move on to the core and flagship of Tails of Iron: the combat system. As mentioned at the beginning, the developers of Odd Bug Studios have expressed their love and the strong inspiration from Soulslike mechanics more basic. Light and heavy attack, dodge and parry, mobs and bosses equally lethal in different situations ... lovers of the genre will definitely feel at home. You will then spend most of the fights, especially those with bosses, with the shield raised trying to learn the attack patterns, to understand when to use light attacks or to switch to the heavy weapon and so on.
However, there are substantial differences that slightly deviate Tails of Iron from the Soulslike canon. Primarily, Odd Bug Studios has completely eliminated the stamina bar, thus making it possible to use and abuse dodging, parrying and parrying without the fear of being punished. Additionally, each enemy, be it mobs, mini-bosses or bosses, is assigned three different types of heavy attacks that can be avoided differently. Distinguished by a symbol placed on their head just before the attack, these three blows vary according to the response that you will have to give to Redgi to avoid being crushed. And, should it happen, do not worry: your inevitable death will simply bring you back to the last "bench" on which you sat, you will not have any kind of malus.
Super equipped mouse - Tails of Iron review
A yellow symbol will indicate an attack to which you must necessarily make a parry, the red lines an attack you think exclusively dodgeable and a red circle a devastating area attack that you will have to avoid with a double dodge. Visual inputs that definitely make Tails of Iron less complex than it would otherwise be, even if death is always around the corner and in the ten hours or so it took us to complete the game she was our partner. Over and over again we found ourselves having to repeat a fight, especially with the bosses of the final stages of the game, but the frustration never took over. With each attempt you always learn something new, to dodge better or to hit at the most opportune moments. And badly, you can always abuse powerful ranged attacks.
There is no level up or skill point system that can improve Redgi. We will be able to increase the life points by gradually finding various ingredients to bring to the cook, who will prepare "succulent" dishes to be devoured only once. To increase the other statistics of our Rat, we will necessarily have to rely onhuge amount of equipment scattered around the game world. If the Armor are divided into Light, Medium and Heavy (and each give a different percentage of resistance to the various classes of enemies), the same can be said of the one-handed weapons, divided into three sub-categories that modify the damage and the attack speed. As in any exponent of the genus it's good to keep Redgi's weight under control, which if it is excessive will affect its ability to dodge.
Art and technique not on the same level, unfortunately - Tails of Iron review
Artistically speaking, Tails of Iron is flawless and, in our opinion, unforgettable. The use of a "comic" style has allowed Odd Bug Studios to narrate a story of violence and senseless war in the best possible way. The crudeness of the images leaves little room for imagination, but it will never be excessive, while remaining strong impact. A praise to the animations, really varied and detailed for such a small team. Incredible also the audio compartment, with a soundtrack with medieval tones that perfectly accompanies Redgi throughout the adventure, without ever mistaking a tone or a situation. Flawless.
Unfortunately, the version we tested, the one on Nintendo Switch, suffered from various system freezes, sudden software closures and glitches of various kinds, on one occasion also audio. We do not know if this is due to a lack of optimization of the title or if these are also present on the other platforms, but it is mandatory to make it known in the review.
Although Tails of Iron is harassed by some technical flaws in its Nintendo Switch version, at the end of this review we can only advise you to buy it, especially if you are passionate about action-rpg. The balance of the mechanics, based on soulslike elements, but with its own identity, and a truly fun and addictive combat system are the strengths of a truly impressive title, considering the small size of the development house. If you also associate all this with a convincing narrative, even if narrated in a revisable way, you can well understand why, in the end, we can only advise you to take your place next to Redgi.
Tails of Iron is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and Nintendo Switch. Have you already tried the Odd Bug Studio title? What do you think about it? Write it to us below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the news, guides and reviews on gaming and tech themes! And if you are interested in game keys at affordable prices, we recommend that you take a look at the InstantGaming catalog!7.8 Captivating!
Points in favor
- Solid and captivating combat system
- Artistically flawless
- Interesting story ...
- ... albeit narrated in a revisable way
- Fluctuating pace
- Technical problems on Nintendo Switch