iPad real-estate is usually at a premium and only the best most absorbing games, typically stay on my iPad. Sometimes you get a game and you immediately lose interest, other times, they’ll stay with you long after you’ve put the game down. Templar Battleforce by Trese Brother Games just happens to be the latter.

Templar Battleforces takes place within the Star Traders 4X universe and it follows humanity on its journey through the cosmos as they search for a new home. On route, the ships carrying humanity’s last hope are attacked and soon boarded by the insectoid aliens known as The Xeno. This is of course, just the tip of the ice berg as there are other enemies beyond the Xeno to encounter. Besides the opening scenes, most of the story is delivered via text between your Templar Captain and other key characters. I was hoping for maybe more dynamic scenes similar to the opening, but I was pleased with what I got overall.

Now normally in a turn-based strategy game such as this I prefer 3D graphics as 2D tends to be more muddy with level details getting lost. I especially enjoy seeing my units skittering about so 3D is preferred. Trese Brother Games previous games like Star Traders 4X and Heroes of Steel RPG sported hand drawn sketchy artwork that just didn’t work for me. For some reason the artwork featured in Templar Battleforce hit just the right notes. Each of your Templars sports a unique look, and can usually be identified by the weapon they are holding. The game is played from an overhead point of view, so you’ll only get to see the tops of your units heads and their shoulders. Level maps are just as varied as the Templars you’ll send into them, from the tight corridors of a derelict space cruisier, to the arid rocky openness of a desert planet.

Overwatch aftermath

Overwatch aftermath

Gameplay is mission-based and is spread out over forty campaign levels. Being a turn-based game it is very similar to the likes of Disgaea or XCOM, in that you and the AI take turns moving, attacking and interacting until whatever mission goal is accomplished. Missions start off pretty simple, with goals such as “go to point A” or “Rescue unit XYZ” but can quickly ramp up on you. As early as the third mission, I was already having a bit of trouble. Outside the missions, all interactions with your units, and abilities is done through the Battleforce HQ, a hub of sorts allowing you to customize, level up and requisition new abilities. Requisitions are especially important as this is your skill tree. After each mission you are awarded Requisition Points, or RP. Each node you unlock with the RP can give you new abilities, equipment or accessories to equip to your Templars. More important than new abilities is that with each node you unlock you can move closer to unlocking a new class of Templar. Those who prefer long-range and stealth and a nifty little turret might want to invest in the Scout and Engineer skill trees, while those favoring defense and tanking might go down the Soldier and Paladin routes.

If only I could fill up this entire tree!

If only I could fill up this entire tree!

Speaking of unlocking Templars, by the second mission you are given an Engineer, and with your handy-dandy new Unit in tow, you can unlock Tactical Points throughout the mission level. With these Tact Points you can summon new units to bolster your Templars already deployed to the field. If these newly summoned units survive till the end of the mission, you get add them your ever expanding army. Similar to how you can visually customize your units in XCOM, each of your Templars has a portrait, name and armor color you can change. I like small touches like these that help immerse me more into the game world. At least this way I’ll know which minions I just used for a meat shield.

Meat Shield in the making

Meat Shield in the making

To add to the Templars customizability, at any time outside of missions, you can freely respec your unit stats if they aren’t shaping up the way you want them to. Unfortunately, any RP spent on your Requisition Skill Tree is gone forever. So think carefully how you want to develop your Templars.

All of this sounds like a lot to wrap your head around, but thankfully the early game is mostly tutorial missions. However, as mentioned earlier, the difficulty seemed to ramp up pretty fast. One of the earlier missions was especially frustrating, as I had to lead my team to seven of ten reactors, any of which might explode when you activate them. This is random of course, as on multiple attempts, a different reactor would explode each time. Perhaps a more tactically minded person would have found that mission to be a breeze, but unfortunately I did not.

If there was one area where the game stumbled it was the soundtrack. I played this with headphones on and at the end of each music track, the music would abruptly cut out and the begin playing the same loop again. I found this mildly distracting as it was a frequent occurrence and tended to distract me from whatever mission I was playing.

I’m probably not the target player for Templar Battleforces, but despite this I enjoyed it thoroughly. Despite some hiccups with the music loop, and a bit of a steep learning curve, I can guarantee this game will be on my iPad for weeks to come.

Kaiju Verdict:

2/4 Pops: Decent There might be problems that mount up and prevent it from being a top tier game, or it might not do enough to quite make it stand out, but a 2 can still be an enjoyable experience that the curious should try.
Review code supplied by Trese Brothers

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