"Calling Grotesque Tactics 2 a game is like vomiting onto a canvas and calling it art."
Independently made games can often be some of the most innovative and fun games to play. The indie scene has not only made names for many game creators that would otherwise remain unknown, but has given a shot of life to a medium that has become more influenced by corporate politics than creative vision with each passing year. Unfortunately, the pendulum of indie game quality can swing the other way as well, because for every breath of fresh air we get such as Binding of Isaac, it seems an indie game maker thinks to him- or herself, "How can I make my game as tasteless, crass, and unfun as possible?" The result of this line of thinking for developer Silent Dreams is Grotesque Tactics 2. At least they appear to have some self-awareness about the matter.
Grotesque Tactics 2 begins with the story of Drake, who has - surprise! - amnesia. Drake wakes up and is greeted by a moronic oaf who makes him do some menial tasks before he begins his quest in earnest: to create a guild. As the game progresses, Drake's memory slowly returns and learns more about the deadly mist that has driven humanity underground. The story is uninteresting, barely a driving force, and the characters run the gamut from 'annoying stooge' to 'offensive stereotype.' The game is billed as a parody, but the writers apparently have no skill in this area, or even know what it means.
Parody requires subtlety and Grotesque Tactics 2 has none. The female characters are all walking sex symbols who spout double entendres at every turn, the male characters all offer some sort of bizarre innuendos or are racial caricatures, and their interactions make me want to take a needle to my eye. Some may decry my criticisms as an attempt to be overly politically correct, but keep in mind: I'm a purveyor of workplace-inappropriate magazines and an admirer of comedians who tell race/sex jokes like Russell Peters. The fact that this game offends even me is telling of the writers' incompetency. Not only this, but the game isn't even completely translated! More than once I reached a point in my game where the text boxes said "Not Translated." No joke.
The aesthetics are equally abhorrent. The graphics are drab and lack detail, the character designs are ugly and unprofessional, and I muted the sound halfway through the game (something I rarely do) because the music was godawful and the voice acting was not only amateurish but can be adequately described as 'ear violation.'
The gameplay fares a little better than aesthetics and storyline, but a step up from garbage means that it's barely passable at best. Grotesque Tactics is a grid-based SRPG, which is a genre I enjoy when it's done right, but of course, Grotesque Tactics botches this aspect as well.
When the player explores the field, the characters in the party all follow Drake and enemies are visible in the field. When battles are initiated, characters start out where they are, which means that more often than not, the player's formation is a mess. On higher difficulties, especially in a SRPG, formation and positioning plays a huge role in determining the winner of a battle; the fact that Grotesque Tactics 2 starts battles with haphazard and randomly determined formations is a spit in the face to developers of SRPGs that aren't total wastes of time. Characters in the party have very little differentiation between each other as well, with most characters serving similar functions and having nothing to really differentiate them from the other characters. The skills characters can learn border on useless, making every battle a lame exercise in both sides bum rushing each other with normal attacks.
It's bad enough that battles are a pain, but exploration is even worse. Drake and his colleagues are forced to take up jobs for many clients with such delightful tasks as stealing undergarments for voyeurs. The problem is that these tasks sometimes unlock new areas, and it's not immediately clear which ones do. The reason this is a problem is because even when the new areas are cordoned off, quests that require the player to go there can still be taken. As a result, players will embark on one quest only to find that they need to go on another quest to get to the area for the first quest. This constitutes the entirety of the game's approximately 15-hour play time, and by the end I felt like the game had killed more of my brain cells than downing 21 shots of vodka ever would have.
Grotesque Tactics 2 has no redeeming factors. It is crass, poorly written, shoddily translated, worthless in aesthetics, and offensive to all my senses. The faint hope of having a fun game is crushed barely an hour in by terrible gameplay and more pointless quests than a second rate MMORPG. The fact that they can charge anything over $15 is laughable; it's like paying someone for a kick to the groin. Calling Grotesque Tactics 2 a game is like vomiting onto a canvas and calling it art. Thanks for catering to the lowest common denominator, Silent Dreams.