Tails of Iron is a 2021 Souls-like RPG adventure game produced by Odd Bug Studio. It is playable on PS4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X, the Nintendo Switch, and PC. This review is based on the PC version.
Tails of Iron tells the story of a war between the rats and the Frog Clan. The gameplay begins with the protagonist, Redgi, the youngest son of the rat king, waking in his bedroom. You guide Redgi through the Crimson Fort whilst completing specific tasks as a tutorial for all future gameplay. You must then use the combat skills learned in the tutorials to demonstrate that you are worthy to inherit the crown. Upon completion of this task, the Crimson Fort is attacked by the Frog Clan and Redgi is buried in rubble. After escaping the wreckage, Redgi is now the heir to the Rat Throne and must rebuild the kingdom and protect it from the Frog Clan. This involves many side quests to build currency as well as to help improve the lives of the rat kingdom denizens.
The storytelling is both narrated and visual. In important scenes where Redgi converses with NPCs, there will be subtitles at the bottom of the screen as well as a voice repeating what is written. Additionally, the narrator is mainly telling the overall story. The visual aspect of the storytelling is the conversation between rats on screen. When you engage with other rats, you hear something of a whistling sound, as though played by a flute or penny whistle at varying pitches, and you see large speech bubbles on screen with images of buildings or enemies as well as arrows which will point in the direct of the previous image. In this regard, it is very important to closely watch what is said on screen so you don’t miss any important details. However, if you do miss something, the map will often have a marker on it indicating your location and also the location of a specific quest point.
It cannot be stressed enough that learning the controls in the tutorial is a MUST. Button-mashing will not prove useful in battle, as they take strategy, practice, and patience. This is a Souls-like RPG, relying on timed moves, pattern recognition, and strategic strikes. Luckily the games offers three difficulty modes, one of which allows the player to more-so experience the story should they find the combat too taxing. The combat, whilst challenging, is refreshing and well implemented. Save points are also ample, ensuring that the player can learn without having to backtrack or repeat in event of death.
Outside of combat, another level of challenge and strategy lies in choice of armour and weapons. Everything you equip has both a damage indicator but also a weight indicator. As weight on Redgi increases, his ability to move and react decreases. To that end, it is important to be mindful of choice of armour and weapons, as well as any special bonuses the armour gives you against certain enemy types.
Regarding the game’s overall aesthetic, it is beautifully orchestrated and animated. The music perfectly captures what is happening in each scene, as well as in battle. It is a visually stunning game with dynamic backgrounds and foregrounds, and is easy to navigate. The hand drawn style is both unique and charming. Despite this, it should be noted that there is an element of gore, as Redgi will often be splattered in the blood of various bugs and frogs on his quest to restore his kingdom.