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Zmann
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Tactical Nexus
So, uh, I recently discovered what I think is, as of now, an EXTREMELY obscure video game. It has 11 reviews on Steam (one of them is mine), basically no relevant results on Google (other than Steam-scraping sites) and seemingly zero YouTube videos (other than their official channel).

The basic pitch is that it's a Tower of the Sorcerer (or DROD RPG) clone, but with a completely insane scope & business model. Just read the (poorly translated from Japanese) description on Steam:

quote:
Puzzle RPGs(Resource management games) that can be played for 10,000 hours by preparing all DLC. You can play for 2,500 hours by purchasing DLC up to the current Chapter-4. First of all, try playing with Mainpackage for hundreds of hours.


To wit: some of the reviewers have 400+ hours of play time on this game, and it only came out a few months ago.

Business Model
The game released around $60, but the developer has apparently come up with some kind of weird reverse discount scheme. It currently costs $15 dollars, and every few months the price of it will go up 5% until no longer discounted.

Their plan for the game is to release 10 chapters, with 60 levels total, for a final price of $300 ($725 after all the discounts run out).



The Game
After that pitch, and not knowing whether this was an elaborate hoax or scam I decided to download the game to figure out what exactly this thing is.

There is a free demo available which gives you access to 4 towers. I played through the tutorial tower, and was pretty engrossed.

The game is a bit rough to look at, and the UI could use some work, but it plays really quickly and fluidly. Each floor in this game exists on a huge 15x15 grid, and they're chock full of enemies and powerups to route through. This is the second floor in the tutorial tower:


Most towers usually have multiple physical locations for goals. There's a goal halfway up, a goal all the way, and a goal that's only accessible via the Nexus. And what's the Nexus you ask?

The Nexus
This game has a metagame system, which is part of each tower in the form of the Nexus. When you complete a tower, you get a medal (bronze, silver, gold, diamond, etc...) based on how well you did (health, attack, defense). These medals can be spent at the Nexus to gain additional power ups.

Each tower has it's own Nexus, but you can spend medals obtained from ANY tower in ANY Nexus.

In addition to medals, you can unlock Sunstones by beating towers without spending any medals in the Nexus. These Sunstones can also be spent on powerups and stats.

Once you've unlocked enough medals, you can use them to unlock a staircase in the Nexus to get the true ending of a tower.



Since the towers are pretty sensitive to initial conditions, this means that you're often going back to previous towers with your newly acquired medals, getting a few more power-ups, and then taking completely different routes to improve your score.

Variety
I'm not sure if I'm sold on spending $300+ dollars on the entirety of this game's DLC, but base game ($15 right now) already has a ton of content. There are 12 different towers available of varying lengths, each have something unique about them or focus on something unique (single floor, limited moves, level ups provide health). In addition, you will want to replay those towers once you get enough medals to get the Nexus finishes too.


(The single-floor tower pictured above)

I've completed about 5 towers now with silver medals and I'm absolutely hooked. I think the base game is a great deal for $15, but I'm still not sold on the full $300 package.

Both the scope of the game and the pricing model are extremely ambitious and maybe ridiculous? But even if they're not successful or don't achieve their goals, the game in its current state is extremely well designed and worth trying on its own merits.

The free demo probably takes 10+ hours to beat by itself. I'd recommend starting there, and if you're still hooked then try to make sense of this pricing model. (Please spend your money responsibly and within your means!)
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1141290/Tactical_Nexus/



[Last edited by Zmann at 05-07-2020 03:02 AM]
05-07-2020 at 02:53 AM
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Dischorran
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icon Re: Tactical Nexus (+1)  
Holy hoobuffins, they'd be better off using roguelike ANSI. TotSlikes aren't my thing, but I hope they find a solid business model to support a highly tuned puzzle design.

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05-08-2020 at 12:32 AM
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Zmann
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Yeah, it can be hard to parse at times due to the visual density. You sort of get used to it, but usually when I reach a new floor I stop and just take it all in for a few minutes to figure out where all the goodies are and how hard they are to get.

It does play very much like TotS, but I find that the scope means that I don't really get analysis paralysis from it because it's so darn complicated that I have no chance to play it optimally, doubly so the first time through.

There are soooo many enemies and the numbers are big enough that they're hard to calculate, and you don't have perfect information until you've played through it once, so you kind of just have to go with the flow.

[Last edited by Zmann at 05-08-2020 04:25 AM]
05-08-2020 at 04:18 AM
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dojo_b
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10,000 hours of puzzle gameplay as a selling point, I love it. (Subtitle is "Big Volume Puzzle RPG".) Ready to quit my job and stock up on garbanzo beans.

[Last edited by dojo_b at 06-08-2020 07:16 PM]
06-08-2020 at 07:12 PM
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hyphz
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Am I being daft? I downloaded this but when I touch the first enemy, it displays the stats for the fight and freezes, and there doesn't seem to be any key to press to actually make the fight happen. I can press X, which lets the enemy hit me without hitting them back and ends the game, but no key seems to cause me to fight back?
06-08-2020 at 11:40 PM
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ErikH2000
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Laughing at the complicated and ambitious pricing scheme. There is something heroic about it.

-Erik

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06-10-2020 at 04:57 AM
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Nillo
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I started playing this a couple days ago and it really is something special. It somehow feels less stressful to play than DROD RPG was for me, because usually there's at least one puzzle you know how to beat, and figuring that puzzle out will make the other puzzles easier using more medals.

Something interesting about this system is, because these medals and sunstones change the puzzle's initial conditions, it means that each player will approach the puzzle differently. Maybe you have 2 sunstones when you play a certain tower while I have 5, and this small difference creates a butterfly effect such that each of us is actually playing a different puzzle.

It's pretty genius, and I don't doubt the developer's claims that you could easily play this for hundreds of hours trying to optimize all the towers and squeeze out more medals and sunstones. Even so, the pricing model they announced is insane and I hope they reconsider it; the game deserves more recognition than it would get if such a price tag is slapped on it.

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07-29-2020 at 01:14 PM
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