Recently tried the demo of Zodiac Legion which you can find on their Steam page, and the best way I can describe it by the few missions the demo comes with is that it is fantasy X-com. The game is tactical turn-based, and while the demo showcase each unit having different stats and weapons, I couldn’t tell if there was any kind of inventory management. I suspect you will be recruiting based on classes, and that will be it, but don’t quote me on that. Hopefully units in the full game will be able to gain ranks, be upgradable and in that way go beyond meat shield status like how they come across in the demo.
So, to gameplay. It’s hex-based, and overall damage is the deadly kind. Just a few arrows, or swings will make short work of your men, and the enemy for that matter. And you can’t go wrong with that – though, keep in mind RNG will either save your men, or have them fall in battle, which can cascade in either direction. Not 100% sure how the system works, since I couldn’t find a combat log anywhere, but I did notice that units could, if lucky, avoid damage completely by blocking or parrying. Melee seems potent, and your go to when it comes to engagement, yet, bows and magic wins the day, for balance’s sake, though, archers seems week in close combat. What I didn’t like here is that they could still fire in melee range. I would prefer having them forced to fight hand to hand in close combat with huge penalties, or just not be able to do anything at all. Now, while engaged, I could still target other units.
Magic seems absolutely overpowered, like the fireball – doing massive damage and taking out many enemies at the same time. However, you can only use it once (at least in the demo), after that the “mana” was drained. You can refill health and mana through mana shrines randomly placed on the map, but they seem very rare, so it’s not something you can rely on.
Overall, I found the combat enjoyable, and it’s clear that the game requires tactics to win, at least going by placement, and protecting your more vulnerable units. One minus I noticed, at least going by personal preferences, is that units can pass through each other. That mean that enemy units can just go through your lines to target your more squishy guys. I didn’t like that too much, and I do think it limit the tactical approach to the game, like making choke-points. What is odd, though, doors do act as a choke-point, so not 100% sure how it works, but I did watch enemy units waltz pass my lines to target my archer.
Going by visuals, and sound, it is good. The pixel art style of the graphics is fine, everything from units, to animations, my only complaint here might be that the enemy is a bit similar to each other. The orc and skeleton enemy looks a like at a quick glance.
The demo left me very positive, and I can’t wait for the full release. Another X-com like game is never a bad thing! And not to forget, the developer of the game is active in the RPG Codex forum, giving updates and answering questions. It’s a good visit if interested in the game.
Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “Zodiac Legion – Demo Impressions”
Hi! Thank you for writing about our game!
1) There is no inventory management yet, because it still has to be handled in console mode/text, as the UI is not there, but the items themselves are in the game (and the characters are WYSIWYG, and display the armor, helmet and weapons equiped).
There will be a progression system, in two part: one for “mundane” abilities, and another for the ones coming from zodiac magic (which will require using magic resources for advancement).
2) Archers have a huge penalty in melee. I am planning to force them to use melee weapons, but I would need to add a secondary weapon slot for that, so I’ll have to see whether/when I can do it.
I recently slightly toned down their efficiency against armor. Shield bearers can protect their adjacent friends from archers that are at a smaller or equal distance from them.
3) The system works with a dice pool of 20*20 sided dice. Each dice you roll under your modified skill counts as a success, and you hit if you score more success than your target defense. I will add a combat log ASAP. Support is very important, as each support gives +1 in Att or Defense, as long as he is not in another enemy Zone of Control (so it works like in Blood Bowl).
4) You cannot pass through enemies, but the animation will “remove” intermediary tiles and usually draw a straight line. You can be engaged in combat if you move around an opponent. Here too, a combat check is rolled (basically, the same as an attack roll, with the same support modifiers) to check whether the character is pinned or not.
5) Magic is indeed overpowered. We will add a risk of failure to casting spells, with a modifier for casting when under attack or in a zone of control to balance it out, and make recovering mana more difficult (you can do it by resting at the moment).
These points show that we need to find a better way to expose the game mechanics, because it is pretty arcane. A combat log would be a good start indeed.
Thanks for the game, looking forward to it. And thanks for the extra info – the combat log addition and the archer melee change I really like!