Whilst the names Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are most commonly associated with Square Enix when it comes to RPGs, their back catalogue in the genre is actually WAY more diverse and made up of releases across all sub-genres. It’s something that’s been evidenced in the likes of Octopath Traveller, Triangle Strategy, NieR Automata, and Voice of Cards in recent years, but their diverse RPG design also goes back all the way to the 16-bit era. They’ve never been a company that’s afraid of experimentation in their RPGs and it’s something that’s perfectly demonstrated in their latest release, The Diofield Chronicle.

The DioField Chronicle is an RPG that blends together real-time strategy elements as players lead a band of mercenaries across strategic showdowns, with clever positional-play, tactical thinking, and the utilisation of your team’s diverse skillset imperative to your success. You shouldn’t expect the turn-based battling of the Final Fantasy series or the action-orientated showdowns of NieR Automata here; this is all-out strategy gameplay where you’ll have to outwit your opponents on the battlefield if you want to survive.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Taking place in a world that sees war raging between the Schoevian Empire and the Rowetale Alliance, your band of mercenaries (known as the Blue Fox Mercenary Company) find themselves positioned on the island of DioField as they look to protect it from the bloodshed of battle. The island had previously kept itself out of these troubles, but with the Shoevian Empire eager to obtain the powerful Jade mineral that is abundant on the land, they have no choice but to defend themselves.

As expected, it’s a very politically-driven tale with plenty of twists-and-turns as the nations do everything in their power to take control of DioField and its valuable resources. Whilst I’ll admit that it does have a bit of a slow start as you’re introduced to the Blue Foxes and their position within the war, it doesn’t take long before their influence plays in heavily and it becomes easier to be invested in their plight. They’re a likable bunch too, even if they do embrace the typical cliché tropes you’d expect of RPG protagonists.

The vast majority of your time in The DioField Chronicle will be spent on the battlefield, with players leading out four units in strategic battles that play out in real-time. It is possible to pause the action when you select a unit and decide what you want them to do though, so you’re given plenty of time to think your actions through and determine your strategy.

“The strengths and weaknesses that each unit have ensure that battles offer plenty of strategic nuance, whilst each battlefield is designed to give players plenty of opportunities to get an advantage over their foe.”

Whilst there are an abundance of different units to utilise in the game that each have their own special abilities, they boil down to four different types: Solider, Cavalier, Sharpshooter, and Magicker. Soldiers are your up-close and personal units that draw enemy attacks, Cavaliers utilise speed to traverse the battlefield with ease and pick up strategic positions, Sharpshooters attack from afar and try to keep enemies from getting too close, whilst Magickers use different forms of magic to unleash devastating effects on your foes.

Each bring something unique to the battlefield and offer their own different advantages based on factors like the gear they use or the type of magic they have equipped, with the use of a varied blend of units typically the best way to achieve success. Or you can use all Soldiers and charge at foes or all Magickers and blast them with the elements… it’s up to you. Fortunately, you can also bring four additional units in as support to your main team, allowing you to utilise their skillset or even swap them in when required. It gives players that extra bit of backup when the going gets tough, whilst it also allows for more flexibility when having to change up your tactical approach if a battle takes an unpredictable turn.

The strengths and weaknesses that each unit have ensure that battles offer plenty of strategic nuance, whilst each battlefield is designed to give players plenty of opportunities to get an advantage over their foe. Whether it’s distracting the enemy whilst trying to flank them, utilising explosive kegs to deal big damage, or simply luring foes into traps, there are plenty of ways to approach battling outside of simply running in and hoping for the best (though that can be an effective strategy too). It helps make each battle feel exciting, with the varied approaches giving players plenty of opportunity to experiment – whether that’s with their tactics or with the different units they have at their disposal. Whilst the battling of The DioField Chronicle is easy to learn, it offers plenty of depth to keep players entertained across the meaty adventure.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Whilst missions offer a clear objective for players to work towards, they also offer side tasks that bring with them various rewards that can be used to upgrade your units or purchase new equipment. It always felt rewarding to power up your favourite units, whilst the new skills they can utilise can be real game changers in battle. The only downside is that a LOT of grinding will be expected to unlock all of these, with the difficulty curve of The DioField Chronicle being harsh for players who are ill-equipped. Whilst you will progress naturally through playing the main missions, I never felt like I was earning enough to keep each of my units balanced enough to keep up with the ever-increasing strength of my opponents. I even completed every side mission I came across and STILL found myself short on cash. You can expect to have to re-play missions on a regular basis in order to keep up, and whilst the shorter nature of each one means it never gets too frustrating, I would have preferred it if the game was just a bit more balanced.

Outside of the grind though, I had plenty of fun playing through The DioField Chronicle. I haven’t even mentioned things like the Summons that turn the tide of battle in your favour (including the iconic Bahamut), the boss fights that see you facing off against ferocious creatures, or things like the status effects that can slow down your foes and leave lasting damage. There are so many different elements to the game’s combat that helps ensure it remains exciting throughout, with it offering enough depth to please strategy fans but without feeling too overwhelming for newcomers to the genre. It would have been nice to see a few more varied objectives as you progress through the game, but outside of the rough grind, The DioField Chronicle gets everything right with its combat.

It’s also a real looker, with the battlefields rich with detail and combat animations slick and well-presented. Whilst the cutscenes that take place back in your home base don’t hit as high a standard, the battles looked top-notch and helped give the game its own distinct style. Add to that the impressive soundtrack and believable voice acting, and it’ll quickly become clear that a lot of care and attention was put into the game’s presentation.

The DioField Chronicle Review

The DioField Chronicle is a pleasant surprise, with the intriguing narrative and excellent combat ensuring it stands out as another RPG treat from Square Enix. I went into the game with mixed expectations, but found myself addicted to its strategy action – it’s a looker too, especially on the battlefield where the game fully embraces its distinct sense of style.

It does have some downsides, most notably with some cliché characters, repetitive mission objectives, and a rough grind to progress, but they’re the only blemishes in what is otherwise a very fun game. I’d be lying if I said I was expecting The DioField Chronicle to be a big hit, but fans of the strategy RPG genre really won’t want to miss out on this one.

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC
Website: https://diofieldchronicle.square-enix-games.com/en-gb/