Children of Zodiarcs begins its Kickstarter pitch by asking “Do you wish there were more indie games inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining ForceTactics Ogre, and the best of Tactical JRPGs?”  As a matter of fact, I do. I also like “story-driven” games with “unique, memorable characters” so my interest levels are high for this one.

Children of Zodiarcs

Developer Cardboard Utopia is made up of “AAA game industry veterans” like Jason Kim and Samuel Daher. (Me neither.) As well as a love of tactical JRPGs they’re also big fans of board games and collectible card games. Children of Zodiarcs will incorporate elements of both into its battle system. In Zodiarcs, instead of earning points to invest in skills when you level up, you earn new cards for your deck. In battle, you draw a card from the deck and that card determines your battle action. You can then supplement this by rolling a set of dice. The dice determine precisely how your battle action plays out. Roll well and you may augment your attack with a status effect or damage bonus. Roll badly and you find your attack doing less damage than you expected.

Children of Zodiarcs

It’s an interesting twist on the use of dice in many RPGs where your roll determines success or failure. Here, the dice “reflect varying degrees of success and alternate outcomes”. Once you’ve rolled your dice you can then pick the ones you would like to re-roll in order to fine-tune your bonuses. The idea, of course, is to try to move the emphasis away from luck and towards tactical planning, which makes sense in a tactical JRPG.

Children of Zodiarcs

I’m not entirely sold on the use of cards and dice in a tactical JRPG. The developers have clearly made every effort to ensure that these elements do not skew the game towards luck over skill. Nevertheless, I’ve always found that games which try to incorporate CCG gameplay into another genre end up pulling me out of the story. I’ll be interested to see how the developers tackle this. The campaign is off to a strong start and with Square Enix Collective backing, I fully expect this to meet its goal.

Track the progress of the Children of Zodiarcs Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.

Phil Ings
Phil's lifelong gaming obsession began when he played Spellbound on a friend's ZX Spectrum. Thus began a love of games, particularly character-driven games and those with a strong narrative. In 2015, he wrote, designed, and programmed the comedy superhero adventure, Supreme League of Patriots. When he's not playing games, writing about games, or making games, he can usually be found ranting that John Noble should have won an Emmy for Fringe. His all-time favourite games include Star Ocean 2, Persona 4: Golden, Fallout 3 and Life is Strange. He is a self-confessed PS Vita evangelist and recovering JRPG addict.
Phil Ings