Tails of Iron, from developer Odd Bug Studio and Publishers United Label Games and CI Games, launched onto Steam and all major consoles mid-September 2021. If you watch the game’s launch trailer below, you’ll immediately recognise a very familiar voice-actor narrating. Go on, give it a watch and see if you can recognise him?
If you thought, “Doug Cockle!” or “Geralt of Rivia”, you’d be 100% correct. Who doesn’t want to play a game that’s narrated by such an iconic voice? Of course, it helps that Tails of Iron is an excellent story-driven title that follows the tale of Redgi, a rat.
Yup, you read that right – you play as a rat in Tails of Iron. Upon launching the game, the story kicks off immediately with some background lore about the world Redgi lives in. There was once a great war fought between rats and frogs. The rats emerged victorious, but the frog threat never truly went away. The years went by and the rat kingdom flourished under the reign of their king. This is where you come in. The now elderly Rat King has realised he is at the end of days, and decides to choose a successor. Enter Redgi, the youngest of the Rat King’s offspring.
Players take on the role of Redgi and adventure through an absolutely breathtaking game world, filled with a ridiculous amount of audiovisual detail. Each and every single scene in Tails of Iron looks fantastic, with the 2D medieval storybook aesthetic nailed perfectly.
The game starts off relatively chilled, with Redgi being tasked by one of his handlers to go get ready for a battle to decide who gets to be the next king. After a quick introduction to the game’s mechanics, players will face off against Redgi’s brother in an arena battle. However, without spoiling too much, things go from zero to one hundred extremely fast. Soon it’s up to you to save the entire kingdom from the tyrannical clutches of the frog army.
Gameplay in Tails of Iron is entirely dependent on player skill. You’ll need to dodge, parry, block, and sword slash your way to victory here. However, it’s extremely difficult to simply button bash your way through fights. Players will have to read enemy movements and watch out for colour-coded attack warnings and land their attacks to succeed. For example, enemies can showcase a yellow-coded attack, which means you are able to block and parry it. A red-coded attack means you need to dodge. It seems fairly simple but things become extremely heated in battle when there are multiple enemies attacking you from all directions.
The combat in Tails of Iron also revolves around players only being able to heal a finite number of times using a healing flask. This isn’t exactly a new innovation but it’s one that works really well in this game. The combat of Tails of Iron, therefore, becomes a dance of dodges, parries, blocks, and attacks. Healing in between attacks and retrying when failing becomes standard fare and those who like challenging titles will find themselves right at home here.
Once you get into the combat rhythm, there’s just something addictive about the gameplay in Tails of Iron that keeps you coming back for more. Whether it’s the gorgeous locales or the fantastic narration by a seasoned veteran of the gaming industry, Tails of Iron will sink its ratty claws into you and rarely let go. The combat feels “hefty” and brutal too, with the attack animations and damage animations giving off a visceral vibe, especially when Redgi performs a finisher on an enemy.
Players in Tails of Iron will be able to change up Redgi’s weaponry and other equipment either by picking up and equipping new items in the field while exploring or by using a storage crate in safe areas. There are quite a few weapons in the game, ranging from short-range swords and long-range bows, to slow but devastating two-handed weapons. The combat can therefore be surprisingly complex in this title after you’ve put some time into it and discovered the range of weapons you can use.
Enemies in Tails of Iron are quite varied too, with plenty of low-level fodder to slice through and plenty of well-designed boss enemies to defeat. The game never lets up on its difficulty either and there’re definitely moments where you will be frustrated due to the sheer amount of enemies thrown at you, or the difficulty of the boss encounter you need to get past.
Players also need to manually save the game by sitting at specifically outlined rest stations in the game. If you don’t remember to rest this way, you risk losing quite a lot of progress, so it’s often best to go back and rest after every difficult encounter before venturing out further into the unknown. Refilling your health flask is also a good idea and one that’s absolutely necessary in order to progress – unless you don’t plan on taking damage from enemies ever.
Graphically, as mentioned previously, Tails of Iron is beautiful. The art in every single scene is such a visual feast for the eyes, you’ll want to take it all in. The soundtrack is great and the voice acting from the narrator is perfectly suited for the tale this game tells. There isn’t any other voice acting, but the game’s sound effects and music make up for this.
Tails of Iron does suffer from a few faults though. The game has a very slow pace, while the crafting system involves simply providing the blacksmith with blueprints for new weapons. There’s also a lot of backtracking involved and it’s mandatory if you want to complete side quests. Yes, you read that right. The side quests are necessary for you to progress through the game because you earn the required resources for progression through doing these quests. Some of the platforming involved in the game can also be quite hit and miss, and it’s easy to get cornered in the game’s more intense fights which seems slightly unfair.
Even with a few flaws, Tails of Iron is a great 2D adventure game with a clear Dark Souls combat influence at its core. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome, coming in at around 8 hours long, but there are long sections where it feels as if you’re just wasting time doing unnecessary things and fighting tough battles just for the sake of it. If you’re going to play Tails of Iron, I’d suggest playing it in short bursts. This alleviates some of the back-tracking tedium and lets you appreciate the game’s beauty and story a lot more. I highly recommend picking this game up but be warned that this is definitely not a kid’s game – there’s a lot of intense violence – and it certainly can get frustrating due to its ramping difficulty and certain boss fights.
A Review code for Tails of Iron was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher
Tails of Iron (PC) ReviewTails of Iron (PC) Review
Story8/10 Very Good
Audio8/10 Very Good
- Fantastic 2D art style and aesthetic
- Compelling story
- Dark Souls-esque combat mechanics
- Side quests involve a lot of backtracking
- Some enemy encounters feel unfair
- Platforming can be hit and miss