The role-playing element has been out for ages. From the times you gathered with your friends to roll the dice and play the cards to the cartoons and movies being watched to even the controller in your hand. For some, it may be a way to live another life in order to escape our own or it may be a way to have our character increase in power or the decision to end that character’s life. The imagination, the situations we encounter, and even the story being told is all of an important one. But has Developer Tin Man Games found a way to bring the turn-based strategy tactical role-playing style and have the action unfold while the narrative story was being told? Let’s find out with Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown for the PlayStation VR.
Tables of Tales: The Crooked Crown is a tabletop game with turn-based strategy combat where you can either use the DualShock 4, one Move controller or both Move controllers. I would suggest using the Move controllers as it just felt more natural, plus when you press the Move button, the end will extend so it makes it really nice to pick things up, place the cards, and roll the dice. You see this magical table has been abandoned in your Aunt’s attic and you really have the power to unlock its potential. But this is not an ordinary board game where you just roll some dice and try to pass go. No, this table and its contents are full of secrets that you get to be part of through it’s fun come to live driven story.
When you use the key, you are greeted by Arbitrix. Think of her as the Game Master for your role-playing adventure. But what is awesome about Arbitrix as she is telling the story, what she is telling you, comes alive on the table. The narration being told is non stop and it had me hooked from the moment I was welcomed into this world. What I thought was interesting is how you can pick up any of the figures regardless if they are a friend or foe and place them near the table and see them grow a bit and also to see their stats.
It is up to you to lead your scoundrels in victory over your enemies while you try to clear your name of something you didn’t do. Each scoundrel only has a certain amount of moves and depending on what is going on, it may be better to rest and have that particular scoundrel rest or even fake their own death or stand and fight. What I like is how if one of your scoundrels dies, that you can position the scoundrel (as long as the turns allow for it) to then use the card to revive them. Along with each scoundrel limited movement, you only have limited attacks.
As Arbitrix is telling the tale, your boat will move as land appears almost like watching a movie play out with you and your scoundrels out for a true adventure. But it’s not all go here and go there as the decisions you make will impact what happens. There will also be times that you may need to repair your ship or even try and negotiate with a particular enemy. This is when the rolling of the dice come into play. Depending on your role, you may either succeed or have to keep trying, but if your scoundrel has run out of their turn, either you can try and move another scoundrel to try and finish what was started or pray that you withstand the enemies attacks. I mean it’s fine and great when it’s an even playing field with the good and the bad, but when the bad start to outnumber the good, that’s when your strategy skills really come in to play as once all of your scoundrels moves are done, it’s the time for the enemy to move and attack. There were times when one of my scoundrels was just sitting ducks and the enemy would just do whatever they could to attack either by slashing or throwing things and my scoundrel would die.
Now I know that I have mentioned cards and I want to talk a little more about this. To place a card, you just pick it up and place it over that scoundrel. I did have a few instances at the beginning that I could not get the card to play right, but you then learn that there will be a little vibration with the card in hand so that you know you are hitting the sweet spot. With each scoundrel, they will have a certain amount of cards that will have numbers in the corners that can be played. Some of these cards can be used to call a portal, to intimidate the enemy, to jumping attacks to even as I previously mentioned and probably my favorite, faking death. This can be a very smart card to place if your other scoundrels are low on health and if an enemy kills your scoundrel, but you placed the card to fake your own death, then the enemies turn will end sooner allowing you to show everyone how good of a faker you are, rise up, revive your fallen friends, so that then you can use them to attack only to then fake your own death of that one scoundrel. Yes, it can be a lot of work, but when the strategy that you thought was the best and it fails, sometimes you have to do whatever you can to help win the fight.
Nuna maybe my favorite scoundrel as she can use the Dark Portal or even summon dark creatures that you need to be careful by using because if you defeated the other enemies, that creature you summoned then could easily turn on you and you have to defeat it in order to move on. But it wouldn’t be a role-playing adventure if you could not upgrade your abilities. At times, you will be able to upgrade your abilities, but you have to be smart about it. Maybe you want to have one of your scoundrels be faster or stronger or maybe even healthier, but what if that one scoundrel that you spent getting stronger ends up dying (not saying they will and not saying they won’t), but strategy is key here, so choose wisely as you never know what may come your way on this grandest of all adventures.
Let’s talk about sound. I loved how Arbitrix is narrating the story and depending on what she is saying and talking about, her tone and voice change to help with the flow of the story. Hearing the scenes come alive whether it be coming to a new land or being introduced to a new enemy or maybe reintroduced to one from the past, sounds refreshing as the adventure goes on.
On the graphics front, I loved the setting of being in the attic and being introduced to the abandoned game. Seeing the different scenes unfold and come alive as Arbitrix narrates the story is very refreshing and brings some fun as the world just transforms in front of you and engages your interest from beginning to the end.
There are some things that I wish were added. For one, multiplayer. Yes, there is multiplayer, but it’s local multiplayer and I didn’t have anyone I could really try this out with. I would love to see an online multiplayer as it would pretty awesome to have the same single-player experience brought to online battles. And the other thing that I would is more. There are so many more adventures that can be told in so many different settings, that I hope that Tin Man Games knows that they have something truly special and continues to run with it.
Sometimes we may pass on things that may not be what we are used to, but sometimes it’s when we give those uncertainties a chance is when we find something new and unique that is brought to the table that we can become the most surprised.
Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown is out now on PlayStation VR. A review code was provided.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I am going go see how the story unfolds with a new scoundrel.