The Tenth Line might seem like there is not much going on, but then you realize you are getting more than what you paid for. There’s a lot of variety and plenty of games to dive deep into. The game is quite linear story-wise and most of the focus is collecting and battles. If you are in for a heartfelt story look here also. Sometimes there are minor issues but only little design quirks that are easy to look past.
Relaying the story spoils the defining traits of the experience so here is the opening. The game starts off with our main heroine escaping the grasp of a group of evil people known as “The Shepherds” who goes on a journey towards the kingdom of Skyweather after the noble King Orimus’ death. She meets a kobold and dracomage (a magic-wielding humanoid dragon) while escaping each with their own personalities, perspectives, and purpose. The kobold, Rik, is pretty sneaky and rash. The dracomage, Tox, is more wise and brave. The title of the game is based on the in-game writings that prophesize its events.
The game is a platformer, puzzle, and RPG all in one. The overworld is a platformer with some moving platforms. The level-up and weapon upgrading systems are more of a puzzle while the battles are turn-based with some command prompts when attacking and defending.
When exploring the 2D landscape you’ll take control of the three protagonists each with their own skills and abilities. The Princess can move rocks and has medium vertical and horizontal jumping distance. Rik can throw rocks and jump lower to the ground but can go farther horizontally. Lastly, Tox has the highest vertical but struggles to travel left or right and can breathe a variety of elements each with its own usefulness without the help of items. The way the world is laid out, they can all progress through each level but not always the same path. It’s worth noting that progressing forward requires all three to be present but going backward does not until you finish the game, and then you can travel anywhere without limits.
The upgrading system adds some levels of strategy. The “Training” portion isn’t required but the “Power Flow” can alone carry you through most of the game if attended to. Keep in mind both features require you to use items from your stash and permanently remove them when used but you can collect most items from battles and by spending your currency (Gildeds). The “Training” section offers you a chance to deal more damage with certain attacks, improve/add to your elemental attacks with the beasts (all but the Princess) as well as improve your dodging duration with Tox.
The “Power Flow” portion is a grid where you can spend items to boost your stats and get new skills if they are connected to them in the main four cardinal directions. See picture for more details. If you fill in a spot with an item that represents the same color as what is on the grid it doubles the boost so saving items for later to get that boost in a certain advantageous area is always a good call. Items can only connect if the sides have the right paths so a piece with a “+” can connect anywhere and for example, one with a “-” can only connect left and right with another piece as long as they are all connected to the “source” square.
Fights are different enough to make the game stand out from the RPG formula. You get skills from the Power Flow grid, aside from some you get from the start, to choose from. You have various ranges on a 4 by 3 grid and damage is based on what skill you chose. If you don’t like those skills you can skip a turn and recover some SP so you can use more powerful skills. There are four elements that can either be strong, neutral, or weak to certain enemies that Tox and your supports can wield. Rik can also wield elemental knives if you want to use an item.
Each main character has their own attacks to choose from. Once you choose to attack or rest with each character you then go through the battle phase. You get a small window to use all or as many of the command prompts as you can before your turn ends using the buttons on display. Players may find themselves focusing on those button alerts rather than the actual moves themselves because the visuals are great but only for spectators. Choosing which attack, when, and where can really maximize your damage output too which in turn gets you a better rating at the end if used efficiently.
Some spots require perfect jumps off the sides and if you don’t get them the first time with momentum it might take you a while to progress. Finding all the treasures really diverts your attention from the adventure. In the last level, you cannot push certain things back and forth if you pushed them all the way left requiring another couple of perfect jumps that it feels like you cannot make otherwise. Some post-game things limit where you can go. Loading different locations to respawn enemies and layouts take a while.
The game’s difficulty curve is wonky because the early bosses can seem hard but when you have all the upgrades at the end, you find the boss super easy especially if that’s all you focus on. Defending against attacks has some luck to it because the enemy window of attack just feels random but at the end when you are more powerful it feels like you can just dodge every attack. Support characters summoned during a battle don’t attack when you use up all of your main character’s attack prompts which are mostly useful for bosses and nothing else, restricting them to just that. It can be frustrating during battle when you want to use your support characters but can’t during a turn when you want to rest due to low on HP/SP.
The Tenth Line Special Edition a solid all-round game that gives you a lot of single-player action with interesting drama. The game is well worth what you pay for and there is also a side game that you can get on your PC for free that allows you to bring those little memories of the characters back in a multiplayer experience, without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. There is a lot of good music, some voices, and even room for a sequel. Fans of this game shouldn’t get their hopes up too much, however, it doesn’t seem to be out of the picture given the cleverness put into it.
This game gets a 7.5 out of 10.