Developed by the American studio EVC games, published by Versus Evil, and paying clear homage to tabletop RPGs, Wintermoor Tactics Club is an interesting blend of tactical RPG with visual novel elements where you play as Alicia, a young student living her days of high school. With her friends Colin and Jacob, they form the Tactics Club, an RPG club where they live their adventures and relieve the everyday stress in the Wintermoor Academy.
This boarding school has lots of different groups, each one with a very singular interest: we have the Equestrian Club, the Psychic Detectives, the Young Monarchists and many others. And they all lived peacefully, almost respecting each other – with some bullying and rivalry between them, something that can be considered normal in schools. Everybody was happy until one day Principal Enfield promoted a snowball tournament between clubs to determine what club would be the supreme one. Few students felt interested from the beginning, but things changed when he clarified that those clubs who lose the tournament or refused to participate would be officially terminated and forbidden to gather inside Wintermoor walls. Now you will take control of the Tactics Club while they try to survive this tournament and to investigate what are his true intents. But first, let me show you everything this game has to offer before the bell tolls.
What we liked!
- Gameplay: The gameplay of Wintermoor Tactics Club (WTC for short) has two very distinct elements that intertwine: the first one, the visual novel in the school buildings and corridors where you interact with other characters, get missions and explore the world. The second one, the tactical RPG, takes place in the Tactics Club room – or in the tournament battles – where our characters play their heroes in turn-based RPG battles in a fictional world, the world of C&C (hmmm… where have I heard this name before in the RPG world?). In this fantasy world, the timid Colin becomes Eodwald, a brave paladin, the rebel Jacob becomes the resourceful thief Roguey and the kind Alicia becomes the powerful wizard Anjaya. Like in real-world RPGs, our characters play their roles using magics and abilities and incorporating their characters into the gameplay. Surprisingly, this combination worked very well, blending two very distinct game styles into an interesting title.
- Other interesting gameplay elements: As if its battles weren’t enough, the game presents some other interesting gameplay elements: You will help Alicia in some school activities like painting posters, writing compositions and some other not-so-related to her education like writing RPG adventures. A nice touch that brilliantly helps to fill the world o WTC!
- Good visuals: The visuals of WTC, especially when inside Wintermoor walls, are spectacular! Its 2.5D isometric scenarios are so colorful and impressively detailed. The characters are beautiful sprites with interesting animations. When in battles, you will be bestowed with nice special effects to each one of your characters’ abilities. As you can expect, life is not a bed of roses: your character’s and NPCs’ have no facial expressions – except when they are talking and a close-up takes over the screen – and their walking animation – more like sliding animation – comes up short, concealing some of its merits. Notwithstanding, it wasn’t enough to keep me from praising this studio’s job. Kudos, EVC!
- Audio: With some genuinely nice music and interesting sound effects, the audio department of WTC is pretty well served. With some animated tracks, impressive sound effects during combat and good – although shy – dubbing, the developers’ audio department did their job with a flourish.
- About the RPG elements: The core aspect of the gameplay of WTC lay in its tactical RPG battles that take place in a grid were your team of heroes and their enemies will take turns moving and using their attacks. EVC opted for an easier and simpler approach into the RPG world: each character has only a few available abilities that can be learned. Some of these attacks – their most powerful ones – consume tactical points that you accumulate in battle when using other attacks. You can customize your characters with items that give their abilities some buffs like increased range or damage. Due to the reduced number of attacks, the customization of your strategies is restricted to these items, making it a light RPG but still delightful experience.
- Here comes a new challenger! Or maybe a new character. As you progress in your adventure, you will cross paths with many different clubs, each one with interesting members. Some of these members may even want to join your Tactics Club for distinct reasons. And for each new member the Tactics Club gets, you gain access to a new hero to use in the RPG battles.
- The light RPG experience: At the same time that I loved the light-hearted RPG experience of WTC, I really missed some more depth in these table-top moments of the game. Maybe I’m just spoiled for electronic RPGs where I must be constantly strengthening my characters, leveling-up their skills and learning new abilities and missed the most important element of D&D, Vampire or GURPS sessions: the storytelling. Thanks to its novel elements, the adventure plays a key role here – even in the RPG segments of the game. I really wished they were better explored – and with bigger frequency. But it also could drastically change the overall experience with the game. Let’s think EVC delivered it in the exact measure for the experience they wanted players to have with this game.
What we disliked
- Why can’t we be more objective? Although I know it’s for the development of the adventure, sometimes I just wanted its plot wasn’t so dragging: when you – repeatedly – need to go from one place to another in the academy for the story to proceed, it seemed there’s something wrong – or, at least, not optimized – with it. Especially considering it takes precious seconds loading and reloading the map for each area you will visit. Well, C’est la vie.
Wintermoor Tactics Club is an experience like I’ve never had before. It’s all about surviving the high school, but EVC combined so many interesting elements in this task that it will instantly pick your attention – especially if you are a fan of tactical RPGs or just enjoy a good story. With a little more depth in its RPG elements – so good that could be a game on their own – this game could be a solid 100% for me. Needless to say, this is a title absolutely worth checking!
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.