When I saw Dark Deity pop up during the ceaseless outpouring of Gamescom streams, I wrote it off as a competent-looking if somewhat uninspired turn-based RPG. Well, here’s a cool thing I learned today: Dark Deity is actually a tactics game. And based on the latest trailers, it looks perfect for the Switch. See for yourself:
Before you ask, yes, for lunch, I ate my own words. I will also get my eyes checked.
Dark Deity picked up moderate attention earlier this year thanks to a buzzy Kickstarter that promised a strategy RPG in the vein of classics like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics. The campaign was by all accounts a success. Backers lapped the goal six times over, donating more than $74,000 for a $12,000 target. Roughly 1,500 backers contributed to the tier that gets your name called out in the credits. So, expect a long finale crawl.
Earlier this summer, Dark Deity surprise-released on Steam, where it’s since racked up more than 1,000 “mostly positive” reviews. Last week, during a flurry of Gamescom news, developer Sword & Axe said it would come to Switch some time next year.
Kotaku’s Ethan Gach, who’s played a bit of it on PC, told me that Dark Deity “nails the feel of old-school Fire Emblem combat so far.” That’s what I like to hear.
On a closer look, it’s crystal clear that Dark Deity oozes Fire Emblem bona fides. There’s an overwhelming number of classes on display, with more than 50—including traditional disciplines like “archer” and “duelist” alongside more esoteric options like “surge” and “stalker”—to choose from. Maps are displayed from an overhead perspective, more like Fire Emblem games from generations past than the isometric-ish approach in 2019’s Three Houses. Battles play out in 2D, in gorgeous and distinctive pixel art. You can also build bonds between characters over time, and progress those ranks through a letter grade system, just like Fire Emblem.
But it’s also—and I’m so sorry to sully the good name of Fire Emblem with a buzzword—about the ~vibes~. The character designs! The sweeping crescendos! I mean, c’mon, there are characters named Vesta and Garrick and Alden! Those are basically just names sourced from the first edition of Garreg Mach’s 100,001+ Best Baby Names tome.
Though I’m generally a fan of recent Fire Emblem games, I’ve a serious fondness for the series’ flagship Switch release, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. That’s not just because it’s an all-timer tactics game.
In 2019, shortly after Three Houses came out, a few friends and I took a trip to Greece, where some of my family lives. While I obviously did typical vacationy things—like swimming, dancing, island-hopping, and downing enough ouzo that detailing a specific amount here would get me fired on the spot—much of that trip is colored by Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I played it on the plane. I played it on some of the longer ferry rides. During one apocalyptic hangover, I spent the better part of an afternoon curled up in crisp hotel air conditioning, kicking back with Claude and the rest of the Golden Deer. On the flight home, I experienced the game’s big twist. I reckoned I’d be back soon enough, because, y’know, family.
Then the world went to shit.
I haven’t been back since. I haven’t seen those family members since.
To date, even though I’m not on the road and do have easy access to Switch docks and HDTVs, I still play Three Houses handheld. It’s a small comfort. Games, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, can be just as transportative as a solid novel or film. Even if only through the faint wisp of reminiscence, Three Houses reminds me of better days. So, yeah, I’m quite looking forward to playing another Fire Emblem on Switch—or at least, something like it.