By Chris Picone, 15 September 2022
Tails of Iron caught my eye a few times in passing since its release a year ago (how good does it look!) but I only got around to firing it up for the first time this week. It’s an interesting platformer in that it’s loaded with RPG elements and is unusually story- and combat-driven: An RPG-platformer hybrid.
The aesthetic’s interesting; you play as an anthropomorphised rat, runt heir of the rat kingdom and blood enemy of a conquering frog tribe. The background, the characters, the weapons – every aspect of this game is stunningly detailed. Because Tails of Iron is combat-driven, the controls are a little unusual for the genre; sure you still jump and climb as you explore the realm looking for hidden loot, but this one’s really about moving from arena to arena for your next fight. The rat-based movements of your character, where the jumps are more of a hop and your attacks are lunges, I found made the controls feel clunky at times even though they’re actually quite smooth. Combat’s primarily timing-based, relying on your ability to read your enemy’s telegraphing and responding with the right move at the right moment; knowing when to stab, when to dash (which doubles as an evasion while placing you behind your enemy), and when to hide behind your shield. And the fights get tricky quickly – no sooner have you beaten the tutorial dummies when you’re suddenly facing a boss, and the game regularly thrusts you into situations where you’re fighting off spear-wielding frog enemies on both sides while also being shot at by bowmen from above. I found the platformer appearance of the game to be a little off-putting in that most platformers are fast-paced whereas Tails of Iron is more thoughtful. Again, nothing actually wrong with it, just a little unexpected. There seems to be a decent range of enemies to fight, and like any good RPG you also pick up lots of new equipment as you go and can fit your rat out in different builds (fast and stabby or slow and tanky) based on your equipment choices.
The verdict? It’s very high quality and I’m enjoying it though the pace is a little slow for my tastes. Despite its appearance, I don’t think most platformer fans will enjoy this one – instead, I think the prime audience is probably those that enjoy their ARPGs.