The Tenth Line Special Edition Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Sungazer Software

Published By: Sungazer Software

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Sungazer Software providing a review code

It’s not every day that a turn based RPG really comes out and grab your attention. It can be hard to change the core of turn based RPG mechanics and create some that’s different from the average game. The Tenth Line really strays away from the typical turn based RPG tropes for better and for worse. Time to see if this is an RPG worth owning.

Story

The story begins with a young princess on the run from a group of cultist. One day while she’s fleeing her captors, she stumbles upon a fox named Rik and a draco/dragon named Tox. The twosome help fend off the cultist and rescue The Princess. The Princess informs them that she was kidnapped by these cultist and brought to this land far away from her own. At first she doesn’t think too highly of Tox and Rik since they’re beast and not humans. However, she realizes she’s going to need their help if she wants to get home. So, she promises the two of them a hefty reward if they escort her back to her home. They agree to take part on the mission and they set off together, unaware of what’s to come.

The Tenth Line’s story starts off very slow, but it transforms into something with depth and meaning. Throughout the entire story, there’s constant hateful remarks towards those who are considered beast, especially the draco’s. You learn a lot about the difficulties that the beast have while living amongst humans and how they’re treated as lesser beings. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time it makes you think and I feel like that’s what the developers wanted. I wish the story started to develop faster, but when it does it’s definitely worth experiencing.

Gameplay

The Tenth Line is a 2D turn based RPG. Unlike many RPG’s there’s a mix of two different styles of gameplay here. Along with turn based combat style mechanics, there are also platforming and puzzle solving segments as well.

Every new area you adventure to is set in a 2D plane where you manually move your 3 characters. Sometimes you’ll stop at villages where you can walk around and talk to the locals. Most of the time you will be setting foot in an area full of enemies.

In each area you’re goal is to make it to the next part with each character. Your party cannot progress to the next section until all 3 characters are at the entrance to the next area. To get to the next area you will have to jump across platforms

Enemies can be found during these platforming segments. Combat commences once you attack an enemy or an enemy attacks you. So potentially you could skip through each area without fighting any enemies (not recommended).

To further add to the platforming gameplay each character as their own field skill. The Princess can move large blocks, Rik can throw a dagger at far away objects and Tox can use multiple elemental breaths on certain objects. These field skills are used to solve puzzles. Most of the time you aren’t required to solve puzzles to progress. However, solving them will usually yield some useful rewards.

You can also find stars hidden around in each area stars give your party more power and are essential to their growth. I’ll talk a little bit more about this later.

The combat system in The Tenth Line is fairly unique. It uses an active time battle system which you may remember from the Final Fantasy series. Every one of your attacks is dictated by the card you use. You’re given a specific number of skills that each character can use during battle. Each attack costs a certain amount of SP to use. SP is the game’s version of mana. When you use an attack, it also comes with a cooldown and will not be usable again until after a few turns. Be careful to balance your SP with the cooldowns of your moves. If your attacks are on cooldown and you don’t have enough SP to use your other moves, you’ll be unable to attack with that character.

Defending also takes an active approach in combat. Your three characters each receive one chance to defend from damage. By pressing whichever button corresponds to whichever character they will defend themselves from enemy attacks for a short time. The threesome also each have their own “Super Defense” that can be used every so often in battle. Depending on who uses their Super Defense the party can be defended from all physical, ranged, or magic attacks.

There are also characters that you will meet during your adventure that join as support characters. Support characters have two attacks that can be used, one weaker attack and one very strong one. They have a meter that fills as the battle goes on, so if you want to use their strong attack you’ll have to wait.

Out of combat The Tenth Line pride’s itself on introducing some interesting mechanics. As you defeat enemies your characters will level up, but abilities and stat boost are obtained from a different source. Your characters have their own source of power called their Power Flow. Inside a Power Flow there are symbols that fill the inside of it along with areas that represent abilities. Every item you find has its own shape and stat boost and can be added to a character’s Power Flow to boost their stats. Each part of the Power Flow represents a certain stat. So, if you’re able to match a specific colored symbol with an item of the same type it will double the stat boost the item gives.

Furthermore, if you manage to connect an item to an ability inside your Power Flow it will be added to your character’s arsenal of skills. I know this sounds complicated, but it’s quite easy to grasp once you get the hang of it. For those who like the Kingdom hearts series it’s reminiscent of how Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded on the DS played.

I’m not finished with talking about the game’s unique mechanics just yet. Items have more uses then being added to a character’s Power Flow. You also have to use items to give to a character to boost the strength of their abilities. The character’s abilities correspond to one of two types of attacks. For example, The Princess has lunge and slash attacks. Through the use of items you can boost these two stats and increase the value of all abilities that use this type of attacks. You’re only allowed to boost one of these two stats until your character runs of patience. That’s why it’s important to collect stars, because they refill this patience meter.

Finally, the last use for your precious items is to give temporary buffs to your characters. Each character has a specific buff that they can receive from consuming an item. The Princess’s ultimate ability and her HP and SP restoration can be buffed, Rik can consume items to add elemental affects to his throwing weapon attacks, and Tox can consume items to add more power to his elemental breath attacks. With all that being said, it’s very important to search out items and use them properly.

The Tenth Line walks a thin line between being very unique and being very confusing. The abundance of systems to micromanage can be very overwhelming and it may bother some players. There are options to tone down the difficulty of the game and remove the training and specialty options all together, but that’s unfortunate for those who don’t want to play in easy mode.

Another issue I had was with the platforming elements. The platforming is an interesting concept and can be entertaining, but it becomes tedious quite quickly. Having to have all 3 characters reach the end to move on is annoying. Not to mention the controls don’t always feel the best and may result in some frustration.

My final gripe with the game is the length of the battles. In the game’s normal difficulty battles will start with multiple enemies and then more will continue to come in acting as replacements for the ones you defeat. This makes the battles drag on for extended periods of time and after playing for a while it gets very redundant.

Extras

As I previously mentioned The Tenth Line does offer some difficulty options for players who may be more interested in the story than the combat. Story-Only mode removes battles except for boss/story battlers. You still get to see the story and take part in the platforming sections, but you won’t really experience the game’s combat mechanics. If you do choose this mode you won’t be able to check out any of the game’s post game content, so be aware of this. Easy difficulty, let’s you have a lighter experience and better regulates pacing of the combat. This also removes the training and the temporary buffing elements I spoke of. Finally Normal difficulty is the regular difficulty that let’s you experience what the game has to offer. I chose to play with the Normal difficulty, but I do feel like the Easy mode would have provided a more entertaining and less overwhelming experience.

If you want to play through the game again and make it even more difficult there’s also the option to start a NG+ as well.

This portion of the review is where I wanted to talk about the minigame that you can spend a fair amount of time with. If you’ve ever played Final Fantasy VIII then you’ll most likely know what this minigame is all about. Quad Pro Quo is a card game that you can play with certain characters to receive rewards. As you progress through the game you can unlock new cards to use in this minigame. How it works is that each player takes turns placing their cards around the board. On each of the four sides of your card there are numbers. If both of your numbers are higher than the adjacent opponents card then you flip there’s to become one of yours. Whoever has the most cards by the end wins. Every card also has an element and if you line up a card that’s weak to another one you can get bonuses points added to your card. This is a fantastic addition to take time and play when you want a break from the gameplay.

Presentation

I wouldn’t say that The Tenth Line’s visual design is bad, but I would have preferred something more creative. The cartoon style visual design that’s used during dialogue looks fairly nice and blends well with the gameplay. However, the 2D pixel art style visual design is bland and lacks any sort of interesting elements. It causes many of the 2D environments you have to journey through to look boring and uninspired. I appreciate that each environment looks different from the others, but that sadly still doesn’t make any of them stand out. The sound design on the other hand is quite nice and enjoyable to listen to.

Technical Issues

During my playthrough I did not encounter any technical issues.

Summary

The Tenth Line may have been one of my most challenging reviews to date. This is a very unique title that I think really creates an experience that’s different from any other on the Nintendo Switch. The combat system is unique and managing your characters stat growth and skills is very focused on your input. On the other hand the intense micromanaging can easily overwhelm players and cause an experience that some may not enjoy. Many of the game’s issues can be fixed by playing through the Easy difficulty, but many may not be satisfied with this. if you’re looking for an interesting experience and are willing to look past some flaws in the gameplay then this is a journey worth taking part in.

7/10

Pros

  • Interesting Story Once it Gets Going
  • Unique Combat & Upgrade System
  • Three Different Gameplay Options to Help Find Something For All Players
  • Quad Pro Quo is a Fantastic Minigame

Cons

  • Story Starts Out Slow
  • Micromanaging Can be Overwhelming
  • The Platforming Can Become Very Tedious
  • Battles Can Drag on For a While
  • Bland Pixel Art Visual Design

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