Many people spent their 18th birthdays getting drunk. Maybe dancing the night away in some seedy night club. Maybe they went to Ibiza and a super club. Maybe a lavish party with friends and family. Me? I spent mine playing UFO on the PC.
The turn-based strategy game has always been my genre. From Laser Quest and Lords of Chaos on the C64 to Gears Tactics on the Series X, by the way of Sabre Team on the Amiga or the Fallout and Jagged Alliance games on the PC. I have always enjoyed them and always seek out a new one when it's released.
As such I was very interested in Fort Triumph. Especially after seeing it described as part X-Com and part Heroes of Might and Magic III, and initial impressions were good. Having actually left a game of Gears Tactics mid-mission to install this, the cartoony graphics and colourful world where a very welcome alternative. The turn-based sections of the game felt recognisable straight away and you could easily make out your characters, the enemies and the environment.
It wasn’t long before doubts crept in however. Maybe this was down to my love of the genre and the games I have played before, but having completed the tutorial and the first few missions, the game felt like "my first turn-based strategy” - it felt too simplistic, too basic.
The developer, CookieByte Entertainment, should be applauded for trying something different though. The environments you find yourself in during the battles feature both destructible items and physics-based weapons. Whereas in X-Com you may take cover behind a tree and feel “safer” here, your enemies can actually push that tree down on you.
In theory it's a nice idea, designed to prevent the often familiar play styles of many a modern game of the type. In practice however, when this mechanic can also be used to push/pull opponents into each other as well as the environment it started to become the only strategy, and turns quickly became a way of trying to utilise it as much as possible. It often felt like a turn-based strategy game without the strategy – simply moving characters into position to pull off a move you have pulled off countless times before.
You do have various different builds of characters that you can make, however while initially it was fun to experiment with them it soon became a case of working out how they could push that tree down on the enemy behind it. I never felt like I was beating the enemy with skill or tactics, but just by using the mechanics of the game.
Between missions the game features an over-world map with a base/castle for you to upgrade. This again looks nice and colourful but could be any map from any number of similar games - when it says it's part Heroes of Might and Magic III, it's obvious which part.
The story of the game is very weak and as familiar as that over-world map. Instead of trying something new and adding to the fantasy setting, the game decides to poke fun at how stereotypical things are in an attempt at humour. It was a poor attempt and added nothing for me.
Fort Triumph tried something new, however, in doing so it lacks that depth and strategy present in so many better games. If you are new to the genre then I do think you would enjoy this more. It's not a bad game, its just there are so many better ones. It reminds me of the VW “like a Golf but not a Golf” adverts - it's like X-Com, but it's not X-Com.
Special thanks to CookieByte Entertainment & PressEngine for the review code.