Fort Triumph has finally left Steam Early Access after spending over two years in the program. The game bills itself as a mix of Heroes of Might and Magic’s open world exploration and XCOM’s turn based strategy.
Fort Triumph offers a decent sized campaign following four heroes on their epic adventure. The story is filled with a lovable cast of oddballs. The dialogue is well written with a good bit of wit. The humour mostly parodies the fantasy genre with a few smart jabs at modern society and some absurd humour for good measure.
Fort Triumph offers a full campaign and a skirmish mode. Separate skirmish modes are available for singleplayer and local co-op. The campaign is composed of multiple skirmish maps with special combat events. Each skirmish map serves as a single act in the story. While the story follows four heroes, players can have multiple parties of up to five heroes each.
The game is split into two main phases, the overworld and combat. The overworld is modeled after Heroes of Might and Magic where each player takes turns moving their parties around the map. Each player is based out of a fort. The fort is where players will buy upgrades for both their kingdom and their entire roster of heroes. Forts can be taken over by opposing parties of heroes, so players do need to protect their base by stashing a few heroes in reserve.
Scattered around the map are treasure guarded by enemies, random events, forts, and resource generation nodes. One day is represented by one turn, and players are limited to a certain number of steps per turn. At the end of the week, the monsters grow in strength. The system works well for the most part except for the small number of wasted steps a party will take if they interact with an enemy battle event but later decide to back out.
Fort Triumph is light on stats and equipment. The only choice a player can make when a character levels up is to choose from a random selection of three skills or upgrade existing ones. Artifacts offer a decent stat bump but are rarely found. Heroes are only able to equip one artifact or one consumable item at the start, but additional slots can be purchased at the local fort.
Combat is turn based strategy in the spirit of XCOM. Fort Triumph emphasizes both direct damage and environmental damage. Objects and units can be pushed and pulled around, causing damage on impact. A majority of the cover in the game is affected by physics, making cover a risky proposition against enemies who also have physics based abilities. The difficulty is slightly higher than average as characters tend to be squishy. Additionally, death is permanent, so losing a hero can be devastating. The game is more forgiving when it comes to permadeath as patient players willing to replay a mission can restart the mission or load an autosave.
I found the gameplay to be enjoyable. The developers have hit just the right spot in terms of difficulty that emphasizes strategy without being unnecessarily punishing. There is a decent amount of variety in the enemy composition that will make players adjust their tactics to survive. The level up system is done well as certain skills are rare and characters can sometimes learn a skill from another class. When combined with the fact there only three randomly selected skills offered for each level up, the four classes in the game does not feel limited at all. The campaign does feel a little tacked onto the skirmish mode mechanically speaking since each act is just a new skirmish, but it is an enjoyable way to see all the content in a cohesive manner.
The controls are decent for the most part. The game can be played entirely with the mouse though keyboard controls for camera movement makes things easier. The developers do a very good job keeping the mouse consistent, with left click handling neutral or cancel functions and right click for executing character actions. Targeting enemies can be a little finnicky when large objects are nearby, as it is very easy to click on the wrong target. The game did not ship with the ability to modify key binds but the developers have promised the feature will be added in a future update.
Fort Triumph offers an enjoyable visual presentation. The art style is cartoony with lots of exaggerated features and bold colours. There’re a few nods to Shrek in the character design that fits in well. On the technical side, the graphical options are extremely slim. The bulk of graphical quality adjustment is handled by a single vague option.
The audio experience is solid. The soundtrack is the standard video game fare, providing a pleasant distraction-free accompaniment to the game. The sound effects are of high quality and have enough variation to prevent the game from feeling stale. There is no voice acting in the game, which is significantly better than terrible voice acting.
Fort Triumph is a solid game that does justice to the two franchises that inspired development. While there are some quality of life issues that need to be ironed out, fans of turn based strategic combat will enjoy this new take on the genre.
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