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Disciple: Liberation Review – IGN

A tactical RPG adventure, Disciples: Liberation is an entertaining excursion into a fantasy world that puts you in the role of a classic RPG protagonist with special powers, a motley crew of companions and a bone with fate … the Missions escalate further than you would ever expect. In fact, it outperforms its weight class in terms of the quality of combat and content, but it leaves itself in the lurch with a mess of additional systems and some very noticeable bugs.

Disciples: Liberation combines a turn-based tactical game with a proper role-playing game, and lets you wander through isometric environments as you play through a fierce 80 hour RPG story – I did more than a couple of side quests and optional battles that ended up being played for 92 hours to have . It’s not an open world, but it’s not linear either; Each chapter is divided into a number of regions that can be approached in any order. You fight a lot of turn-based battles in these regions, and it’s a good thing that they’re fun and (aside from being a little slow at times) they’re fairly open-minded because there are a lot of them.

It is a correspondingly expansive, cosmic story for Nevandaar, a fantasy world that is dark and terrible, but still allows good and redemption. Her character, a gutter-born mercenary named Avyanna, has many dialogue options: friendly ones marked with halos, aggressive ones marked with horns, and snappy ones marked with Avyanna’s own twilight wing symbol. The side quests have enough variety and enough convincing characters that I couldn’t always easily decide who to face.

Disciple: Liberation knows what tone it is aiming for and stays with it.

There is a lot of ramified dialogue, most of it pretty good, but some of it is really cheesy and accompanied by an equally cheesy voice overs. Honestly, that’s a positive thing, because Disciples: Liberation knows what tone is important and sticks to it. Nevandaar is a convenience food restaurant; This is a familiar, soothing, generic fantasy done right.

When you embark on a fight, you control Avyanna, some of her named companions, and a number of generic units that you recruited on your travels or produced back home in the ancient magical city of Yllian. The units are very diverse, from armored infantry to bone golems, possessed berserkers and ferocious elven snipers. There are over 50 units in total, and the units level up over time so nothing ever really becomes irrelevant. (While your companions are a diverse and strange group, unfortunately on the battlefield they are just reskins of base units with higher stats.)

In addition to being front-line, each unit can also be placed in one of your three backline slots, where it can remotely contribute a unique power by polishing your units or weakening your enemies. Pro tip: Winter dryads give your entire army permanent regeneration, which I found invaluable.

From armored infantry to bone golems, possessed berserkers and ferocious elven snipers.

The battle cards are an ideal size and give you enough space and a little bit of terrain to play with. You avoid both the trap of feeling like a tight chessboard and the classic genre mistake of trying environmental realism to be tactically interesting. No style of play feels punished, nor does any style feel fundamentally overwhelmed. Both melee and ranged options have their highlights, and while mobility is strong, units receive bonuses and healing if they choose not to use an action point. These little bonuses for not looking are a brilliant design that allows defensive strategies to thrive in a genre usually obsessed with aggressive moves. The enemy AI is doing its best and focusing the fire pretty well, but has very poor knowledge of when to time its special skills and is really terrible at sticking to it to take advantage of these bonuses.

Student: Liberation screenshots

I like to build my armies with combos of the undead (who have stamina), demons (who hit hard), and elves (to take out the stragglers). The units of the human empire are all disgusting blasphemers, and after a while I couldn’t take their calls anymore, so most of the time I didn’t use them. One of my favorite army compositions was created in the middle of the game when my undead death knights were inflicting the cooling effect on enemies and elven snipers who were automatically critical of cool enemies would take them off. Meanwhile, Avyanna – whom I’d made a teleporting battle mage – would wreak havoc on the enemy’s back line with control spells.

The spells are a special treat, with an extensive spellbook full of magic to collect, ranging from situational buffs and fireballs to weird auxiliary spells like walls or clouds of fog. It really hits the feel of this classic fantasy magic user with a spell for every situation, even playing as one of Avyanna’s melee builds.

However, other systems appear to be designed almost at random.

However, other systems appear to be designed almost at random. The resources for building your base and arming your troops are poorly balanced, some critical and others practically useless – I had over 200,000 wood and iron on hand at the end of the campaign, but I kept wanting more gold. They also accumulate in real time during the game, but can only be picked up at your base. So if you really want unlimited resources, you can run Disciples: Liberation and visit every hour or so. There are other things that generally feel irrelevant and just frustrating, like ongoing damage between unrelated battles or arbitrarily limiting the number of buildings you can place in your settlement.

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