Unfortunately, the battle frequently gets too heated, at which point several weaknesses in the control system emerge. Most annoyingly, you can’t select a unit and then give multiple commands – you have to reselect that unit before each. As the number and the size of the sprites onscreen means battles between multiple units get pretty messy pretty quickly, this can make it hard to keep everyone moving in the right direction and attacking the foes you’re aiming for. Keeping your heroes alive – particularly your healer, Penelo, and the Aegyl warrior, Llyud, with his useful ‘restore’ ability – is crucial, which can make it frustrating when they disappear into the scrum before you know it. It’s all too easy to lose ten minutes of hard work with a stupid mistake. Square has implemented a range of button shortcuts to make things easier, and grouping units of a particular type under the most relevant hero is a very useful trick, but there will be times when you’ll still struggle to maintain command.
While I’m moaning, the difficulty level is a mite up and down as well. In most cases a change of tactic or an adjustment to your esper selection will work wonders, but Revenant Wings definitely has its brick wall moments, and your head is likely to get banged against them. Meanwhile, whoever thought that the combination of this control system and a stealth mission worked should have spent a little more time playtesting their own game.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about Revenant Wings. It’s well-constructed, good looking and solidly paced, and most missions are just about bite-sized enough to make sense on a handheld format – something that can’t be said of some other mobile strategy and RPG titles I might mention. Crucially, it’s also built to last. Revenant Wings is not the kind of game you’ll crack in a single weekend. Even the music is excellent.
All the same, I can’t help feeling that it lacks something – perhaps addictive qualities, perhaps atmosphere. Maybe Square Enix didn’t feel that this was the right game or the right platform for FFXII’s stately melodrama, but the lighter tone and slighty storyline makes Revenant Wings feel a little less compulsive and a little more lightweight. And while the battles themselves are enjoyable, only a few boss encounters have any real sense of drama – the majority simply merge into the reasonably entertaining whole.
This isn’t to put you off Revenant Wings if you enjoyed FFXII or if you simply fancy a good handheld RTS – it’s just that I don’t think the game has such broad appeal as, say, Advance Wars: Dark Conflict or Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. Bear this in mind and don’t get too carried away by the FFXII connection, and I doubt you’ll go away disappointed.
A solid and entertaining offshoot of Final Fantasy XII and one of the best implementations of RTS gameplay on a handheld format. However, while Final Fantasy fans will love the way characters and concepts have been carried over, Revenant Wings lacks a little in the thrills and drama stakes.