Fort Triumph is a turn-based tactics game available on Steam. Joseph Pugh conducted this review.
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Fort Triumph blends the strategic exploration of Heroes Of Might And Magic with the turn-based tactical combat of the X-COM series. While it’s a more lightweight game than either of those, it’s held together by a unique physics-based system that permeates nearly every aspect of the combat.
Trees can be knocked over, boulders can be pushed and the units themselves can be shoved into each other. The physical nature of the combat is as important to winning fights as cover and good positioning.
Fort Triumph features a campaign, skirmish mode, local co-op or hot-seat style gameplay, a variety of difficulty settings, and toggle-able permadeath.
Heroes Of Mighty X-COM
If you were to call Fort Triumph fantasy X-COM, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The combat will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the modern series. Combat is played in turns, attacks are percentage-based, taking cover is very important, and ranged units can enter an overwatch mode.
Fort Triumphs’ physics-based addition to the formula sets it apart from its Sci-Fi brethren. If that pesky goblin is hiding behind a tree and you can’t get a decent shot. Send the Paladin over and knock the tree over to flatten it.
Need some crowd control? Kick a fire urn into a group of baddies. If a wall blocking your line of sight, have the Barbarian charge right through it.
In combat, most characters get three action points and most attacks take two of them. Using the environment has more value than just damage, striking a unit with the environment or even each other stuns them, draining two action points for their turn. This means that they usually can’t attack you back and setting up good positioning for combos is the key to difficult encounters.
This isn’t just a side system to the game, it’s a core principle. Many abilities interact with the environment in some way. A Mage’s whirlwind spell can shove objects and units at a distance while a Ranger’s grappling hook can pull them toward him. Every unit can also simply move objects and units around that they can reach with the lift action.
Ranged units can go into overwatch mode, taking a shot at anything that moves while melee units can have attacks of opportunity, attacking anything they move near them. Forcing a unit to move actually triggers both of these. This allows you to set up some pretty sweet combos.
You could, for example, have the Paladin attack a goblin, then have the barbarian kick a boulder into the same goblin. The goblin would take damage from the initial attack and the boulder. The paladin would get a free attack when the boulder shoved the goblin away. It is super satisfying when a plan like that comes together.
The physics system, in general, is incredibly fun to play with. It is always amusing to kill a unit by knocking a tree on them or taking out the pillars holding up an archway and crushing the units underneath it.
Outside of combat, you explore a randomly generated map picking fights and looting treasure and other goodies. You can equip your heroes with magic items you pick up, granting them additional abilities. You also manage a town on a lightweight management screen.
Each race has unique structures that can be built that either grant increased income or other benefits. There are three types of currency in the game, beets, magic, and renown but none of it is complex in any way. Even people who don’t play strategy games will be able to pick up on it quickly.
Your heroes gain experience as they fight and you get to choose one of three semi-random new skills when they level up. Some are unique to each class but others are cross-class skills. Four classes exist; Paladin, Barbarian, Ranger, and Mage.
You’re actually competing with other factions on the map that can do all the same things that you can. This is true for both modes. The campaign and skirmish modes mostly play the same. The campaign just has a story-line and main quest battles that summon the strongest hero you have of every class.
The writing is pretty non-serious and amusing. I giggled when the Mage made a reference to how resting works for spellcasters in Dungeons and Dragons. That said the story is pretty surface level, don’t expect anything deep.
Battle maps are randomly generated just like the overworld, however, they have one of three themes that you can select when you start a skirmish game and you will traverse all three in the campaign.
Each environment has a different flavor both aesthetically and from a game-play perspective. The Crypts add different types of exploding urns for example. Ones that can freeze, burst into flames, or even heal units if you destroy them or knock them into a wall. It’s really neat and can help shake things up because…
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
And Fort Triumph really lacks it. As fun as the physics-based combat is, it alongside the rest of the game can begin to feel stale far faster than it realistically should.
There are four factions but the differences between them are pretty small, they get a few unique buildings but only one trait really differentiates the units from each other. Humans, for example, can lift objects from farther away while Goblins benefit more from cover.
Every faction has the same four classes and abilities and even they can begin to feel samey due to the cross-class skill system. Tragically this is most apparent when you begin fighting other factions. Since you both have the same classes they tend to become mirror matches. At first, it’s a kind of a neat chess game, but it wears thin quickly.
Aside from the factions, you will fight a much larger variety of other enemies on the map that guard treasure and resources. I was very shocked to learn that there wasn’t any type of building that allowed me to recruit them.
Especially since some of the games text points in that direction and you get to control units like Priests, Champions, and Ballistas if your fort gets attacked. Being able to add additional unit types to your party would have gone a long way toward helping the gameplay variety, even if they weren’t as fleshed out as the four classes.
The town management, while simple to learn is also very shallow. The optimal build order is usually pretty obvious and doesn’t leave you with much room to adapt. You can also hire additional heroes for multiple parties, but it’s exceptionally difficult to level up a second party as it’s likely you would have cleared the easier mobs with your first one.
This is especially problematic when playing with permadeath. Funny enough, if any of your heroes die in the campaign, their dialogue will be replaced by your new heroes of the same class as if they are the same person. The non-serious nature of the game means that it doesn’t really matter, but it is odd.
Fort Triumph does a remarkable job of taking an existing formula, giving it a fantasy makeover, and injecting new solid mechanics that make the game unique. The combat is legitimately fun and finding ways to use the environment and perform combos is very entertaining.
The only thing really holding it back is a lack of variety. A larger selection of classes or unit types becomes direly desired the longer you play and that fact is reinforced the more you face off against other factions employing the same ones as you.
Fort Triumph is a solid game and the physics-based combat is truly a blast, just don’t expect to get the same mileage from it like you would from the games that inspired it. It is a much lighter product but by no means a bad one.
A review key for Fort Triumph was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by the developer via terminals.io.
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- Fantastic Physic Based Combat is a ton of fun and builds nicely on an established formula
- Solid loot that adds tangible abilities to heroes
- Neat combination of overworld strategy and turn-based tactics
- Difficulty settings present
- Lack of class and unit variety gets stale fairly quick
- Leveling up a second party seems to be ideal but is exceptionally difficult
- The strategy management portion of the game is very shallow
- The already limited number of classes can feel samey due to cross-class skills
- The four factions aren’t very distinct