With an exciting story, clever battle tactics, and plenty of humor, Fort Triumph is flying high. It loses some altitude due to rough visuals and repetitive gameplay.
If you ever wondered what would happen if you mix the fantasy and strategy of Heroes of Might and Magic with the tactics of XCOM – Fort Triumph is the game you want to play.
This tactical RPG, developed by CookieByte Entertainment and Published by All In! Games, is a hilarious mutation, with plenty to like but also some bumps you’d want to avoid.
You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter
Fort Triumph is not an ordinary fantasy game, that much is clear from the very first cut scene. You smile and nod as an economic discussion down at the local pub takes up all your attention. At the same time, evil quietly plots its next action in the background while no one’s looking.
The game’s light and humorous vibes are felt all throughout, making it more approachable and easy-going than, let’s say, XCOM. Even though both games deal with the same risks – the end of humanity.
The storyline itself deserves to be adapted into a movie or a mini-series. It’s written so well, and the plot thickens and twists to keep you surprised until the final battle. It has been a while since I got carried away by a story that kept me anticipating the next time I’ll play and unravel what happens next.
The best part is that you get to play and fight through this story, and not just watch it unfold. And the fighting is the best part.
Watch Out for That Tree
Battles take place in a 3D battlefield, like the ones in XCOM, where each side takes turns at trying to kill everyone on the other. Each hero has a certain amount to action points they can spend, so we must use them wisely. Basic Tactical RPG stuff so far.
But what sets Fort Triumph apart (and is one of my favorite mechanics in the game) is how you can use the environment to your advantage. You can push enemies into walls to deal extra damage, or topple trees on top of them. You can also kick enemies into the water, or even into one another to kill or stun them.
Using the environment during combat is not only extremely useful (and fun), it adds so much flavor and variety. It shows how, with one simple mechanic, developer CookieByte Entertainment managed to add a meaningful tactical layer, players use almost intuitively.
The game also does a great job of providing you all the information you need while fighting. But it isn’t afraid to get theatrical too. The ‘Overwatch’ ability of ranged classes, combined with other displacing skills or the ‘attack on opportunity’ feature, turn the battle in a cinematic experience of sorts. They look cool but might interrupt your plans and strategies since they trigger automatically.
One aspect of the battle I could not comprehend, even though it’s not that important, is how battle grades work. The grading you get seems to be entirely disconnected from the battle you just went through. I’ve had fights in which the enemy did not move once, and my grade was C, while in others that took forever, I’ve got an A+.
Your Heroes Are Connected to the Cloud
Fighting your battles are your heroes. They come in four classes, no matter which faction you play:
Paladin – a defensive melee type that can withstand heavy damage and displays devastating brute force. Ranger – a ranged type that can deal massive damage and interact with the environment from afar. Savage – a fast melee class that unleashes several attacks in a single turn and is excellent for crowd control. Mage – a ranged magic wilder who can reshape the battlefield with the elements.
During your adventures, you will battle a lot, but not just to advance the story or level up your heroes. You will also find artifacts for them to carry and use during battles. Many of these artifacts can be found lying around the map, each with their own benefits and boosts. But your hero can carry only up to three of them, and that’s when your party is fully upgraded.
These artifacts are stored in some sort of “cloud-based inventory” meaning any hero, no matter where they are on the world map, can equip it. Switching items between heroes on opposite sides of the map is fine, because magic, but it still feels like the game bends the rules in the player’s favor.
Marching to the Beets
Speaking on the map, that is where you’ll spend your time in between fighting monsters.
You roam Fort Triumph’s map with one or more groups of heroes, with a certain amount to steps you can perform in an in-game day. When you reach your limit, you pass the turn to the other player or computer to make their move. If the battle is like XCOM, then exploring the map plays very much like Heroes of Might and Magic.
But the map isn’t there just to get you from fight A to fight B. You explore it to find more resources to build your castle and upgrade it, and to buy new heroes. Oh, and these resources are beets (to make beetcoin) and magic, so the game’s silliness makes its way into the smallest of details.
The way you upgrade your heroes caught me off guard. There are two options to do it: the first is to enhance an existing skill, the second is to randomly get one out of three offered from the class skill pool. There are benefits to this system, as it can create unique heroes that share the same class. The problem is you might not get so lucky with those random skills and find yourself forced to pick “the lesser evil” out of a bunch of useless skills.
Upgrading your castle and building new structures increases your heroes’ might and gives them advantages such as additional armor, health, and much more. Each faction in Fort Triumph has its own castle, buildings, and upgrades, so exploring and taking over more castles is a good strategy.
Looks Better Up-close
The castles themselves don’t look all that interesting. It’s not that the buildings are drawn with little care – they are actually very well-crafted – it’s just that I was expecting more. Instead of a detailed fortress, the castle boils down to a list of buildings like in one of those free mobile games we can’t hold for more than a few days.
This lack of finesse creeps over to the world map as well. The piece that indicates your party on the map just slides its way from location to location, without a proper animation. It also looks like unfinished artwork, like the devs used a temp piece from a beta or an alpha and just left it there for the full game.
I did encounter some visual bugs but was amazed by the swift response from CookieByte Entertainment with a promise to fix them as soon as I reported them.
Luckily, when you zoom into the battlefield, everything looks just great. The characters and the environment carry the same colorful, cartoonish art design, and interact together in fluid animations.
From a critical hit’s slow-motion animation, through skills and magic – all of it shows how much time the developers have poured into the battlefield to make it just perfect.
A Triumph, Overall
Overcoming those pesky visual drawbacks, and after getting into its rhythm, I can honestly say I enjoyed Fort Triumph. The story draws you in, even when you feel forced to battle through repetitive scenery with the same group of heroes.
There are still some tweaks and balancing to be done, and a “rewind turn” option would have been nice since it’s easy to misclick a lot. It would also encourage players to explore different tactics, especially when perma-death is switched on.
Other than that, Fort Triumph is just an outstanding story with fun turn-based battles that are full of those “hell yeah!” moments we love so much.
Developer: CookieByte Entertainment
Publisher: All in! Games
Release Date: Apr. 16, 2020
Genre: Tactical RPG
Available On: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Our Fort Triumph review copy was supplied by the publisher.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.