Himeko Sutori is a strategy game which has an interesting background. It has a certain feeling of familiarity to Japanese strategy titles such as the Final Fantasy Tactics series. It also has a lot of unique elements, including a striking visual design not seen very much.
The characters are produced using classic 2D sprites, while the maps and environments are rendered in full 3D. This visual style hasn’t been seen since the days of 2.5D and really gives the game a striking quality.
If the name doesn’t give it away Himeko Sutori is very heavily influenced by Japanese culture and storytelling. It follows the story of three young women, daughters of a ruler living in a peaceful(ish) kingdom. Their lives are abruptly changed when their home is attacked.
That’s pretty much as far as the story goes right now. Himeko Sutori is pretty early in its development and is only about to enter early access on January 31st. The game is missing a large chunk of its narrative, but does retain a decent amount of its actual gameplay.
The gameplay of Himeko Sutori follows a pretty interesting core loop. You construct your units, here called lances, by selecting and placing individual characters onto a 5×2 grid. You construct your lances and deploy them at the start of each battle and move them on a turn-by-turn basis.
While controlling your lances you have no direct control over what actions they take beyond moving and attack types. Each class is capable of only one action which they take automatically during each round of combat.
While this does give an interesting spin on typical strategy games, it also make your control over combat feel loose. On top of this there is no way to make lances made up of support classes interact with other lances, so you can’t have a lance of healing units restore HP to a combat unit.
That’s not to say that this makes the combat in Himeko Sutori bad, just that it makes it a little harder than it would normally be. What doesn’t help is the fact that the loss of characters is permanent, so if you have a character on low health who is about to die you have no recourse beyond having the lance flee from combat.
Filled with Potential
The comforting factor in all of this comes from the developers of Himeko Sutori. They have been updating the game frequently, sometimes daily. The updates have fixed a lot of critical issues, and it’s reassuring that the game is constantly being improved upon.
Having said that there are certainly a number of critical features that it would be nice to see in the game soon. Firstly either the option for more direct control over units or the ability to have support characters interact with other units directly would go a decent way to make the combat feel more nuanced.
It would also be good to see the game possibly gain some way of reviving teammates instead of allowing them to be permanently dead. Although obviously the rouge-like nature of the game is possibly intentional, and it would be better if the creators initial vision was carried out. Regardless some sort of easier option for players who want one would ultimately do little damage.