James Pawliuk turned in a visually subdued but strategically excellent Tactical Warrior last year, and now he’s returning to the App Store with a sci-fi take on his particular brand of TBS. Judging from the time we’ve spent cutting and blasting our way through a preview build, it’s clear that if you already belong to Tactical Warrior’s cult following, you need to keep an eye on LostStar Tactics. And if Tactical Warrior flew under your radar, you’d do well to watch out for it too as long as your inner TBS fan doesn’t need lots of flashy animation.
As in Tactical Warrior the player begins LostStar by choosing a starting lineup. One batch of units are specialized power hitters, another provide a balanced approach, and the third lets the player take full advantage of a new summon system. Then it’s on to scouring a world map for battle opportunities, of which there are plenty — if a location isn’t a trading post or other special facility, it’s a battlefield with tiered matches the player can choose in any order. The highest-tier matches tend to reward the player with keys needed to open up new map areas, but good luck snatching these if you try immediately! The name of the game is to hop between available battlefields, picking your fights nonlinearly so you can amass resources – new equipment, skills and allies – before tackling the toughest matches.
This should all sound very familiar to the Tactical Warrior fan but that doesn’t mean the formula hasn’t evolved. Your squad leader operates on a completely different system than the skill-based grunts. The leader always has a full palette of attacks and spells, all drawn from a deck of cards managed outside of battle. If you decide to have your commander rest for a turn without using a skill then you have to select one to discard, keeping a random assortment gradually flowing into the leader’s skill set. If you’ve gathered appropriate cards and inserted them into your deck, you can have your leader produce additional units through the summon system. All in all it adds a strong luck element to LostStar, and while we found it an interesting quirk, the player can always choose not to bring the squad leader into a battle and play full-on Tactical Warrior style if desired. Well, with lasers and grenades instead of arrows and alchemy, that is!
LostStar Tactics should be hitting the App Store in the near future. Keep an eye on James Pawliuk’s Twitter feed and website for the latest.