It’s quite common to see tabletop games adapted to video games, but how about a video game that makes you LITERALLY play one, little fiddly pieces and all? That’s the concept of Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown, the virtual reality turn-based tactical-RPG from Tin Man Games that sends you on a Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure in your PlayStation VR headset. Best of all, it’s a blast to play too, with the board game-like setup making for one of the most unique uses I’ve seen of the PlayStation VR headset in some time.
Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown tells the tale of four heroes who are wrongly accused of a murder. In a bid to clear their name they venture across the land on a grand adventure, though they end up getting involved in more mischief along the way. It’s a charming little fantasy tale that’s all told by a strange bird (she does all of the voices for each character too), so it’s easy to find yourself engrossed in what’s going on. There are even narrative choices to be made along the way which allow the player to add their own little touches to the story, which is something that I can appreciate in any game (or tabletop game).
The board itself ties into the gameplay perfectly, with Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown playing like a tactical turn-based RPG that utilises a grid-based movement system. You’ve got four characters on the grid and an objective to complete. However, each character only has a set amount of action points each round which are used up whenever you move or perform an action.
Movement is simple enough, with each character piece just having to be picked up and placed down within their movement limits each turn – the distance you can move each one is represented by tiles raising when you’re holding one of the pieces. Admittedly, it would have been a lot easier to follow if the tiles you could move to were highlighted or had a coloured outline, but it’s something you get used to the more you play the game.
Performing actions in the game isn’t as straight forward as a conventional tactical-RPG though, with all of your actions tied to cards. You use these cards by grabbing them and placing them on your character or enemy, be it a buff or an attack you want to dish out. However, each card you use takes up a set amount of action points, and with a limited amount available each turn you’ve got to think carefully about what you decide to do. There are a lot of different cards to use as you progress through the game and some offer some special abilities, so there’s plenty to play around with. Certain attacks will cover a larger range of tiles too, which adds a strategic touch to your play based upon your position and that of your enemies. It’s clever and rewards those who’re more tactically-focused as they play through each level.
With different enemies that put different obstacles in your path, varying objectives, and all of the locations you head out to, there’re a lot of neat things to encounter during your adventure in Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown. However, it’s worth noting that the game isn’t long or difficult, with it easily beatable in around three hours. There are multiple difficulties that can toughen things up a bit whilst the forking narrative will give players the incentive to play through more than once, but those who’ve played similar tactical-RPGs will find that this is definitely one of the easier and less fleshed-out ones that they’ve gone through.
It’ll definitely be one of the most intuitive ones though, with the clever tabletop game-like setup making for an experience that feels wholly unique. I never tired of using the Move controllers to grab at pieces and move them around, whilst even things like rolling the dice felt neat too (even if you can manipulate your roll if you’re clever enough). Whilst using two Move controllers is definitely the best way to experience the game, it’s worth noting that you can use the DualShock controller instead if you prefer.
There’s even a multiplayer mode thrown into the mix, with the virtual reality player able to compete against three friends. The player in the headset gets to send hordes of enemies out whilst the TV players work together to take them down – it feels a lot like the standard campaign, but with the addition of friends to work with (or destroy). It’s good fun, even if it is a little limited in scope as far as long-term appeal is concerned.
As far as the visuals are concerned, it’s hard not to be impressed by Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown, with the board itself beautifully animated as new pieces of the environment spring into place. It’s constantly shifting along and adding new locales too, which adds a real cinematic vibe to the whole thing – it’s especially impressive seeing as it happens in real-time right in front of you. I really love it when games are presented this way in virtual reality and Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown does a great job of putting this special little world right in front of you.
I found it hard not to feel completely enthralled by Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown, with its unique tabletop approach to tactical-RPG action making for something that felt a little bit special. The gameplay is fun and strategic, it all controls well and feels great in virtual reality, whilst it really looks the part throughout too – the ever-shifting environment transforming right in front of me never failed to impress during the entirety of my adventure.
The only real flaw is just how easy and short the game is, whilst die-hard tactical RPG fans might find it lacking in features too. Still, with its forking narrative and additional difficulty settings, there’s plenty of reason to jump back in on another adventure.
Seriously, if you’re a PlayStation VR owner and a fan of fantasy-RPG gameplay, you’ll really want to give Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown a try.
Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Platform(s): PlayStation VR