Video game parodies are not uncommon nowadays. Many people like to reference or pay tribute to the games they love, which is perfectly reasonable. Selling itself as a game that “combines the features and clichés of Western and Asian console RPGs,” Grotesque Tactics is a reminder of why most parodies are mostly found in the form of Flash animations and not full-fledged games: You still need substance to keep your game entertaining.
You can only tell a joke so many times before it gets stale. The main problem with Grotesque Tactics is that it not only tells the joke too many times, it runs it to the ground to the point it’s no longer funny. Every character in Grotesque Tactics is a walking video game cliché, from the sunglasses-wearing Paladin named “Holy Avatar” (a complete ego-maniac who describes himself as a semi-divine being) to the three maidens who join your army solely because they’re attracted to him. The antics between these four characters take up a huge chunk of most of the game, by which point it just becomes annoying every time it’s brought up. The few references and personalities that are interesting are instead downplayed and ignored after one use in favor of forgettable, uninteresting dialogue and scenarios that drag the whole plot of the game down.
There are so many dubious design choices for the gameplay of what’s supposed to be a tactical game, such as the inability to select party placement, characters often blocking others from being able to move forward and a lack of variety between the playable characters. However, the worst of these choices are the character “obsessions”, which are the game’s sole unique trait. These are activated when a red meter that grows as your character attacks or is attacked, at which point the character will play out said obsession. While the game describes these as good, yet all they do is cripple your party, as obsessions are just as likely to hit the enemy as they are to your own party. For example, all of the female archers in the game share the same obsession: they get jealous over whoever is standing next to Holy Avatar and will proceed to shoot an arrow at the target. Yet more often than not, an enemy would walk up to Holy Avatar and strike him, and then the archer would attack not the enemy, but an ally that was standing next to him. These obsessions only get worse, which begs the question: Why implement them at all? They serve no purpose outside of frustrating the player with a feature that you just ignore until it rears its ugly head and breaks any plan you might have had ready.
I wasn’t expecting much when it came to the game’s presentation, but I was still unimpressed. The character models are poor, but the character portraits are downright atrocious. The soundtrack is completely uninspiring and forgettable, and the environments are the only redeeming visual component.
I honestly have a hard time coming up with anything good about Grotesque Tactics. The few instances in which the gameplay actually worked well, I could see the game the developers intended. However, it’s only a matter of time until either the horrible design choices or one of the game’s many glitches kick in, reminding me of the mess of a game that Grotesque Tactics is.