I often consider myself a person who likes SRPGs, but recently I looked at what I had actually played all the way through and it was basically a bunch of Nippon Ichi games, FFT and FFTA, and Fire Emblem 7. So, I’m currently revisiting the genre in a big way.
Relevant to you, I just played through Tactics Ogre (PSP) for the first time. No question about it, it is a great game. That said, I personally struggled with that exact feeling you mentioned of constantly feeling like I was screwing myself over. Now, I made it through the main game and that was good enough for me. A few rough spots for me would be
- I found the game to be kind of stingy with exp, money, skill level ups, etc.
- Many of the story maps start you off at low elevation relative to your enemy. This means they can pelt you with crap while you spend turns getting up to them. It’s absolutely possible to work around this and you will find ways to win these battles, but the game does pull this same trick a lot.
- As you probably already know, in this game you level up classes, not characters. This annoyed me, so I mostly just stuck with the base classes from the beginning of the game. I know there are good things about this system, it’s definitely not all bad, but it just killed me when I’d get a new character with a unique class and they were 20 levels below my main party.
In spite of all that, I still had an awesome time with the game, which should tell you how fun the combat is. The game is tough in spots, but there’s always a way, it always gives you a few cards to put up your sleeves, and the freedom you have for your character builds really lets you get into some fun combinations. Plus the aesthetic and story were top-notch. And as other people have mentioned, the rewind feature really takes some of the sting off of this one. So, I could see this being the one that turns you into a genre-lover for life.
One other “tip” that I’d offer (both for TO: LUCT and other SRPGs). I find that support skills matter more in SRPGS than in many other games. For one, if you can give your characters buff and debuff skills, that’s something they can do even on turns when they’re not attacking or healing, which in some games determines how fast they level up. Moreover, yeah, sometimes buffs/debuffs are pretty granular in giving you an edge, but other times they make a huge difference. In FFT, for example, having a time mage haste a couple of your units and slow a couple of the enemies will give you an enormous advantage in the Action Economy (a term I admit I just learned from Syzygy). In TO: LUCT, my mage’s main purpose was just to petrify enemies (especially dragons and other big, deadly things) because that spell has a weirdly high probability of working and it wastes TONS of enemy turns. I say this, as Syzygy said, at the risk of sounding obvious, but I find my own play habits tend to lean toward just wanting to bash everything to death, even though I know these buffs and debuffs often make or break me in these kinds of games. So, who knows, maybe that will help.
Games with lots of squares and lots of things on those squares, for life.