I’ll get to the point. Outside of its narrative, The DioField Chronicle doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Nearly every aspect of the game has been seen before in other titles; oftentimes better. Everything will feel familiar to you unless this is the first RPG you’ve ever played. But, one thing The DioField Chronicle taught me is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to be successful. From start to finish, and afterwards while clearing up remaining trophies, I never stopped having fun. The sum of its parts really come together to make a game that tells a great story, is easily accessible, and just fun to play.
The DioField Chronicle appropriately takes place on the island of DioField. Consisting of North, South, East, West and Central Fields, the island is home to a slew of cultures, beasts, and beliefs. It’s also an island rich in natural Jade, a mineral that grants humans the ability to use magic. Modern Magic, a new type of sorcery, drains Jade instantly and turns it into a regular stone once the incantation is done. Naturally, the various territories on both the island and the mainland have their sites set on all this Jade. And I think you know where I’m going with this: war has begun. Corrupt nobles, shady underground organizations, and all of the political powers want their hands on Jade. Arising from the conflict are a group of mercenaries called The Blue Foxes. Under the employ of Duke Hende, The Blue Foxes are led by Andrias, Fredret, Iscarion, and Waltaquin. Andrias, the main character of this story, has his own agenda for The Blue Foxes. In fact, his involvement in the group seems almost too coincidental. But for now, Andrias is going to do all he can to make a name for The Blue Foxes and go where the money takes him.
Andrias and the swatch of characters he recruits for his group, as well as the supporting characters, all come together to form a fascinating narrative. Its filled with plenty of political drama, fantasy, and a touch of steampunk. The story is divided into chapters, and each chapter never outstays its welcome since there’s always a new development or new twist. One minor issue is that there’s an in-game glossary that describes each of the game’s people, places, and terms in greater detail. It’s a lot to keep up with, and the glossary never indicates newly added items. It’d be nice to know what you have and haven’t looked over.
The DioField Chronicle features classic gameplay in which you select a mission, head to battle, and return to the home base upon victory. Between missions, you’re able to move Andrias around The Blue Foxes’ headquarters to talk with your party members to see their take on the current situation, upgrade your equipment, use raw materials to develop new weapons, enhance Magilumic Orbs, use Skill Points to empower the skills of each of the four class types, or revisit battles you’ve already finished. It’s familiar stuff that has worked before and it works here in The DioField Chronicle. Sometimes, your party members will have a side mission for you to take. They can be as simple as having a conversation or something that involves a new trip to the battlefield. It’s rare that you’ll run out of things to do because the roster is so massive. There are even a few secret characters that will join The Blue Foxes provided you fulfilled certain conditions. I’ve always liked it when strategy RPGs have you do more than just point and click on a map to move the story forward. Being able to walk around and chat with the team is a nice touch on top of the solid game design.
The game looks great. There’s a clean style of presentation for every scenario. Moving Andrias around the HQ shows life sized character models with smooth movement. The mansion is well built and has a lot of character. Some of the rooms and battlefields are barebones, but overall the environments look nice. Mission briefings utilize a unique diorama style presentation that really makes you feel like you’re in a war room. These are fun to watch and show the unique dynamic between The Blue Fox’s leaders. Finally, there are some impressive looking skills and spells while engaged in combat. Games like this don’t need anything flashy to enhance combat. Nothing in the game falls into “flashy territory” but attacks still have fun looks and effects. The game has a huge cast of voice actors and actresses giving more personality to the characters. Many of the scenes are fully voiced. The ones that aren’t voiced, however, suffer from quips or grunts before every line of dialogue. You’ll see hear someone say ABC, but the written dialogue doesn’t show any of it. It’s a weird choice that can get to be a bit much. The musical selection is limited, but each tune is nice and fits each scenario.
The DioField Chronicle’s combat will look familiar to anyone that has played a real-time strategy game. Fans of games like Growlanser or Command and Conquer will feel right at home. Four units, consisting of a main member and an adjutant, begin on a predetermined spot on the battlefield. Most of the time, your objective is to wipe out the entire enemy force. Sometime, you’ll have to protect a barricade or capture a ballista for victory. You do this by moving your cursor to your unit (or hitting one of the many handy shortcut buttons) and directing them towards their goal. Units will perform regular attacks until you tell them to stop or the enemy is defeated. To keep things fresh, every character has a class-type that has a variety of skills available. These skills depend on their equipped weapon. Since you can mix and match vanguards and adjutants as you like, this gives each you a lot of options. Attacking enemies from behind deals extra damage.
Enemies sometimes drop orbs that can be picked up to refill health, magic, and Tactical Points. Tactical Points add an extra level of fun to combat because they allow you to summon massive creatures instantly to the battle. They’re perfect for getting out of tricky situations. Since the game can be challenging, it’s important to plan ahead, use everything the game provides you, and think on your feet. Multiple difficulty options and a generous checkpoint system allows for additional accessibility. Some battles can be tedious since many of them feature similar objectives back to back, but its foundation is solid. I rarely grew tired of combat, even when I decided to grind for extra levels and income.
Taking time to grind wasn’t necessary on the standard level of difficulty. Still, I liked turning my favorite troopers into an army of unholy destroyers since the rewarded experience and cash were generous. So, I took advantage of revisiting old battles. Otherwise, this is a pretty straightforward game that doesn’t take long to finish. A playtime of about 35 hours is expected if you plan to do everything on the standard difficulty level. Those that want to revisit the game again can take advantage of New Game Plus after the credits finish rolling. The DioField Chronicle is as simple and straightforward as they get; especially for a modern title. To some, this might be a flaw. To me, it made the game that much better. It goes to show you that as long as the core gameplay is fun and as long as the story is intriguing, then the final product is worth playing. The DioField Chronicle captures that idea perfectly.
Overall, 8.5/10: Fancy bells and whistles are nowhere to be found in The DioField Chronicle. Instead, you’ll find a captivating story that is pushed forward with classic combat and amazing characters.