Overall - 60%
Tears to Tiara II has an amazing battle system, but it's one that could use a much greater presence. Those with iron-willed patience (or those who have a thing for cutscenes) will find much to like here, but more trigger-happy players best approach with caution.
Strategy RPGs are en vogue right now. These turn-based wonders might not have achieved mainstream status just yet, but titles like NAtURAL DOCtRINE and Disgaea 5 are doing their part to breathe new life into the genre. Atlus and Aquaplus’ Tears to Tiara II is looking to continue this movement, crafting a game that is one part SRPG and one part visual novel. Should you take the fight to the Holy Empire, or is this one battle that’s just not worth it?
Tears to Tiara II Review
At first glance, the story in Tears to Tiara II sticks close to your typical JRPG tropes. The star of the proceedings is Hamilcan Barca, a young descendant of royalty forced into slavery by the Empire. However, upon meeting the goddess Estarte (or Tarte for short), he finds the strength to uprise against his people’s oppressors and take the fight across the land of Hispania. That’s where the player comes in…and the SRPG gameplay.
Said plot gets the job done, but its the game’s setting that really helps it stand out. Rather than go with something medieval or futuristic, the world of Tears to Tiara II takes cues from the Roman Empire, albeit with some creative liberties in the form of magic, monsters, goddesses, and underwater ramparts. In addition, though the game might have a cutesy chibi aesthetic to it, the game is surprisingly dark at times, touching upon slavery, human sacrifice, and mind control. It makes for a game that is familiar, yet at the same time unique.
The way the plot unfolds is something gamers will either love or hate. Spread across large swatches of time, major chunks of the story are presented via talking heads in a format not unlike that of a visual novel. While the plot may be engaging, the pace it is presented is downright slow at time. Almost everybody has something to say, stretching out what would normally be a short cutscene into something far longer. It gets to the point where story segments can go on for upwards of an hour and a half, complete with multiple save points in-between. Tears to Tiara II is definitely a slow burn, one that places story before gameplay.
However, when the game does give control back to the player, it can be an enthralling experience. Presented in a grid-based format, Tears to Tiara II takes a page from games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Ogre Battle. Much like these SRPG legends, there is no one way to approach your objective. Multiple paths exist, as do different methods to achieve victory. There are also unique units, strengths/weaknesses, leader bonuses, team attacks, and plenty of other factors players can use to plan out the perfect attack. Complete control is given to the player in these battles, allowing armchair warriors to be true tacticians.
In fact, Tears to Tiara II can be faulted for giving too much control to the player. The inclusion of a rewind feature allows players to move back multiple turns and try out different strategies. Battles are not particularly difficult to begin with, making this an odd inclusion. Even a game over is not a death knell, as you can rewind to a previous turn should anything go wrong. This takes some of the urgency out of battles, and while you can ignore it, it still feels unnecessary.
Tears to Tiara II has an amazing battle system, but it’s one that could use a much greater presence. Those with iron-willed patience (or those who have a thing for cutscenes) will find much to like here, but more trigger-happy players best approach with caution.