‘Children of the Zodiarcs’ Melds Deck Building and Dice Rolling with Tactical RPG Combat

Square Enix Collective is a promising initiative. AAA games twelve years into development have no place here. Whether it’s through assistance with community building or publishing and marketing services, the Collective focuses entirely on independent games.

In Children of the Zodiarcs, Cardboard Utopia‘s new tactical RPG, you play as Nahmi and her fellow outcasts rebelling against the continually disparaging nature of affluence and poverty. The city of Torus is torn asunder by the social conflict; but, however grim, all hope is not lost. Sacrifice and betrayal are only two methods of achieving freedom while preventing your own demise—the game’s battle mechanics help ensure quite a few layers of depth to the unassuming throwback to old school tactical RPGs.

It’s a genre that receives too little attention these days. Unlike XCOM and the soon-to-be-released Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, however, this one looks remarkably nostalgic, but with a few modernized twists. Thanks to a new deck-and-dice-based combat system, Children of the Zodiarcs adds a lot of welcome stratagems to the enduring formula of its genre. Elements of collective card games (CCG) mesh with sets of customizable dice to keep fights brimming with intense, unexpecting variety.

It may sound like a hodgepodge of features, but the launch trailer above makes sense of it all for the most part. Either way, it’s an excitable prospect.

“The game tells the story of a band of professional thieves on the hunt for an ancient relic,” says Cardboard Utopia’s Creative Director Jason Kim in a press release. “Their adventure sees them infiltrating the private chambers of one of the realm’s corrupt nobles, alerting Toran’s authorities and sending them on the run to stay alive. This means taking to the city’s slums and wading through the underworld, chased down by heavily armed city guards, rival gangs, and subterranean cannibals at every turn. It results in action packed gameplay that really pushes the new dice and deck combat system to the limit.”

Children of the Zodiarcs is their latest indie treasure—at least, it raised more than $250k on Kickstarter—and is arguably the most Square-looking addition to the group’s roster of supported projects. Depending on your perspective, that’s the bad news.

The objective good news? Children of the Zodiarcs launches today on PlayStation 4 and Steam for $17.99, so you can play it right now to see its odd combination of game systems and mechanics first-hand.


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Zachery Bennett

The author Zachery Bennett

Zach's eternal preoccupation with video games became cemented at an early age. His first memorable journey away from reality began with a text-based Football game on a dirty Apple II; he's chased fantasy ever since. Having took English classes as electives in college, Zach decided to pull the trigger on a merger between the two obsessions.