Pint-sized indie upstarts frequently attempt to tackle the kind of ambitious projects produced by sizable teams of veteran developers. And as anyone who has witnessed the final state of a crowdsourced game knows, a limited amount of experience and shoe-string budgets can result in an underwhelming effort. As such, it’s refreshing to witness a prodigious title like Fort Triumph gradually take shape. While not without issue, this Tel Aviv-crafted game demonstrates a handle on the fundamentals of the strategy genre, obliging a look from fans of the genre.
While the self-descriptor, “Fantasy XCOM” certainly applies, Fort Triumph is no mere reskin of Firaxis Games’ franchise. Yes, turn-based battles are split into two parts, with character opting to move and attack or alternatively, travel a further distance without confrontation. Currently limited to a mouse-and-keyboard control scheme, directing your party members is intuitively designed, with the movement and attack ranges distinctly indicated.
When a unit performs a ranged attack, the camera drops back a familiar, behind-the-back perspective, typically showing archers peering from behind cover to take a potshot at an enemy. And like XCOM, there’s distinctive unit commands, such as ‘overwatch’, ordering a character to remain vigilant and fire at any enemy who enters their line of sight or brace, which can mitigate any incoming damage.
Fortunately, Fort Triumph adds much more to the proven formula. While the current build offers a modicum of content, what’s on display exhibits polish and potential. Trek through the game’s tutorial, and you’ll discover abilities like whirlwinds that push enemies right off the map, earning players an easy kill. When one foe is perched under a column, players are directed to knock the structure over, creating a bit of comical carnage. Later, you’ll even kick a smaller adversary into a larger one, temporarily stunning the superior, making him a target for follow-up strikes.
One of my favorite skills is the mage’s fireball. After you position the spellcaster, you can target an area of effect. But unlike most games where the effect last for a single turn, Fort Triumph’s exhibits conflagration, and blaze will steadily burn through any flammable objects. With a bit of foresight, you can engulf a group of foes, creating a chokepoint that will scorch enemies inside for a series of turns. Since developer CookieByte Entertainment is touting procedurally-generated layouts for levels, Fort Triumph is poised to offer a lot of improvisational tactics, with players able to kick, grapple, topple, ignite, and even freeze enemies and the environment.
The stretch goals that offered advanced character customization weren’t funding, which is a disheartening, especially for those who wanted to recruit and micromanage a specialized party. But on the upside, there are level gains that are accompanied by selectable skills. When coupled with Fort Triumph’s cartoonish art-style, it here that the game draws distinction, as almost every new ability ushers in new strategies. And it’s here that the developers reveal a faint Disgaea influence, as one of the first perks you can select mirrors Laharl’s proficiency at bashing through things in one of the four cardinal directions.
The current build of Fort Triumph exhibits polish but not profundity. Built on the Unity Engine, there’s the occasional drop in framerate when playing on a burly rig, but it’s infrequently enough to not cause irritation. Elsewhere, play moves along as a swift clip, with the AI moving both quickly and intelligently. Content-wise, only one of the six planned campaigns is available, with more presumably unlocking as Triumph makes its way through Steam’s Early Access program.
Although the developer team still feeds to build Fort Triumph, there are already some solid foundations laid out for the game. If the idea of XCOM-like tactics with a party of fantasy role-playing archetypes sounds enjoyable, then a quick playthrough of the Steam demo is recommended. While elements like voiced dialog might be a longshot, a few additions could push the game into must-play status.