Tails of Iron is a 2D action/adventure platformer with light RPG elements made by the British studio Odd Bug Studio. A bit on the “dime a dozen” nowadays, but what makes this title stand out from the rest is the intense care and love that went into it. It’s absolutely beautiful, with charming art, story, and characters. Yet, as we all know, graphics and setting aren’t everything. Luckily for us gamers, Tails of Iron hold its own on the gameplay front too!
You play as the little rat Redgi, prince of the rat kingdom, living the royal rat life when the evil frogs attack the kingdom and kill the king – your dad. The kingdom barely survives, with the survivors ready to take revenge on the frogs, to slowly build up the kingdom once again, and eventually for you to take the throne.
From here on you have to fight your way through frogs, bugs, and other creatures, taking you all over the kingdom. The combat is brutal and fast, and in the usual “Dark Souls” manner there will be a lot of trial and error, but honestly, it wasn’t too bad. I played on normal and only got held up on bosses, not all of them mind you. It is rather forgiving, giving you ways to recuperate just before bosses, and the harder challenges you will have to face. There is plenty of different kind of armor and weapons to find, some secret, some you gain from loot, and some you buy. They have all different stats, but it is rather simple, as in you have to consider how much armor it gives you, how much weight the item has, and if there is any kind of resistance. Not exactly Pathfinder itemization, but changing out weapons and armor still has some satisfaction to it – even if you in general want the one that does the most damage. Heavy weight will slow you down, though, so I kept my weight limit to the middle bracket, which gave me protection and kept me relatively nimble for dodging.
During your romp through the lands, you will gather different quests, and side-quests, but what is a bit odd here is that the game is very linear, and the side-quests aren’t actually side-quests per se. You have to do them to progress, so I’m not really sure why they are called that in-game. Maybe it’s supposed to be some tongue-in-cheek meta thing since most people do all the side content? I don’t really know. And while the game is linear, it does allow you to travel freely, so areas you once couldn’t enter, now you can (if you got the right tool for it). With that I mean it will be a lot of traveling and backtracking if you want to find all the stuff, and kill all the things. Personally, I didn’t mind it. I like getting familiar with the different areas, and the game isn’t that big, to begin with.
Gameplay-wise, it’s very entertaining, dodging and hacking foes to the left and right. What does enhance it tremendously is the visuals. Everything is looking top-notch, but what stood out to me the most was the living background. The man, or woman that made these is a master of his or her craft. The background has several layers to them, which add real depth, and they are full of little quirky animations – like animals running by. It’s a beautiful game and a real pleasure for the eyes. For some reason, it takes me back to the cartoons of my childhood, and that is always a nice warm nostalgic feeling. Another aspect that is well done is the general background sound and music, and together with the visuals, it sets the atmosphere splendidly.
There isn’t much to the story, but in this kind of game I don’t think it matters much, I think it’s probably for the best, actually. I’m not saying there isn’t a narrative, it’s just rather simple – it’s a tale of revenge/survival and helping your fellow man/rat. It is filled with cute moments, though, from characters to areas that often put a smile on my face.
Do I recommend it? Of course, but only if you like 2D-adventures with backtracking required. If you don’t mind that, you are in for great fun, and a cute story of a rat fighting for his kingdom.
Thanks for reading.