Absolute Tactics: Daughter of Mercy is a new tactical RPG that has interesting combat mechanics, unique character mechanics, and loads of pacing issues.
- Title: Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy
- Release Date: September 15, 2022
- Price: $24.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated Teen by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch, Steam, GOG
- Recommended for fans of: Tactical Gameplay, Anime Characters, and Wry Humor
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy caught my eye thanks to its anime-inspired character art. With that look and a progression system that is focused on developing characters through mixing classes, it seemed like it was trying to take a bite of the Fire Emblem apple.
I’m roughly six hours into the game so far, and I’m really digging the ways characters feel unique in combat and the potential ways to develop them, but every aspect of the game feels like it is just a little bit slow.
Absolute Tactics: Daughter of Mercy has a cast of characters, but the main protagonist is Huxley, a boy who aspires to be a grand adventurer. When an evil force invades his hometown and starts harvesting energy from the corpses of his friends and family, he joins up with more experienced combatants to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.
The biggest strength of the combat in Absolute Tactics is that each character feels super unique. By default, each character has a different attack range. Huxley can only hit the square in front of him, while another character swings a flail to hit three spots in a line one space away. This ends up requiring you to consider positioning heavily. You have to move your units in an order that lets them stack up to get the most strikes against enemies.
Most missions are objective based rather than asking you to just wipe out the enemy. I like that design, but the way the maps are built has meant that I’ve ended up needing to wipe out every enemy to reach the objective almost every time. Speaking of the maps, this game does not use any sort of a cover system, but there is often debris you can destroy to open up new pathways to your enemies. You’ll also find treasure chests on the map, which you can destroy to gather currency you’ll spend between missions.
Back at the Base
The caravan you visit between missions in Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy is a simple menu system. It’s easy to read, but it’s a lot less interesting to engage with than what you’d find in bigger budget tactics titles like Fire Emblem or Blackguards 2.
You can visit a few different shops from the caravan screen. I ended up buying single-use healing or resurrection items between every single mission. There is also a blacksmith who sells weapons and armor you can equip for your various party members. An apothecary sells permanent boosts to your health or special ability points, but they are really expensive.
After shopping, your next step will be to equip all your new gear on your characters. From that same screen, you can also change out or upgrade class handbooks. Each character can have two different handbooks equipped at a time. These not only augment their stats but change up which abilities they have access to. This basically gives you the option to create your own builds for each character.
There’s a lot about Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy that really works for me. The unique attacks of each character force you to be really considerate about how you move your characters, and the ability to sculpt your own set of skills is really intriguing. The only thing that’s really holding the game back from me is that every single bit of the game feels a bit too slow.
In combat, your characters move just a hair slower than I wish they would. There is a sort of paper doll aesthetic to how they move which I liked at first, but I pretty quickly wish they’d speed up a bit. More frustrating is your enemies. Their turns aren’t nearly as painfully slow as the ones in Hand of Merlin, but I think every tactics game should come with an option to fast forward enemy moves.
The bigger issue is that progression is a crawl. As far as I can tell, you usually get one class handbook upgrade after each mission. That’s a nice reward, but when you have two handbooks per character and several characters in your party, it is hard to get excited about the development of each character at that pace.
There is also no checkpoint save system in Absolute Tactics; if you want to switch to another game in the middle of a mission, you’ll have to start that mission over. On top of that, the game has both manual and autosave systems, but the load screen defaults to the manual entry. I have twice loaded up a manual save, hit the button to start the next mission, then realized it would have already been completed on the autosave. Of course, by that point, the autosave had already been overwritten when I loaded up the old manual save, so I ended up losing my progress.
I think that there is a pretty cool game to be found in Absolute Tactics: Daughter of Mercy. It’s got an exciting combat system with fun characters and cool progression, and I would be interested in seeing where the story goes. Unfortunately, without some quality-of-life improvements to speed up combat and make saving a little more idiot-proof, I’m not sure this will be one I stick with. Still, if you’re looking for a tactical RPG, you could do a lot worse!