If your idea of ‘strategy’ is casting a fire spell on an ice monster, Spectral Force Genesis might come as a bit of a shock. This isn’t an RPG; it’s a game about diplomacy, about careful resource management, and only in part a game about battling. And Spectral Force doesn’t so much throw you in at the deep end of all this tactical twiddling – it hurls you into the sea.
You play a general in control of your chosen kingdom’s armies, taxes, foreign affairs and trade, but despite initial befuddlement – thanks in no small part to frequent, unhelpful tutorials – it doesn’t take too long to get a handle on things. Each area of management gets its own dedicated phase, which alters month by month. In the course of a game year you’ll buy and sell stock to raise money, recover from battles by drafting in troops, make alliances with other nations, and have a go at invading one of the neighboring countries. Your ultimate goal, as is so often the way, is to expand your empire and conquer the whole world.
Menus are easy to navigate, and choices are simplified into broad categories, but it’s the sort of game where one wrong move can trigger a humiliating defeat months down the line. If you have the patience and the dedication you will be rewarded, but not quite as bountifully as we’d like. Worth the effort? Just about.