Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord is a strategic RPG game published by both NIS America and Atlus, and developed by Aquaplus, a company which specializes in visual novel publication. This is immediately apparent as soon as you start the game up, with high res manga portraits popping up with dialog, alongside chibi 3d models for gameplay purposes.
The original game was released in 2005 for Windows, and was remade for the PlayStation 3 in 2009. Sadly the title never made it’s way to North America or Europe. There is an anime adaptation of the game which is available in the West, so if you enjoy Tears to Tiara II you could always watch that to give you an idea of what you missed out on.
This reviewer has a little experience with tactical RPG games, namely the Final Fantasy Tactics/Advance games, however, all my worries that I would be rusty and out of my depth were silenced with a difficulty selector right at the get-go. Cranking it down to “Easy” and risking ridicule, I dived straight into the game.
The bulk of the game is told in a visual novel style, though it’s fairly standard elements that you’ve seen before in other RPGs. The world is slowly being taken over by the Imperial Empire, who are quickly shown to be the protagonists, with the incredibly meek Prince Hamil taking a (poorly animated!) beating in an early cutscene. The Empire is trying to seize control of the country, forcing the citizens into hard labour and taxing their savings (the fiends!)
The gameplay itself is standard tactical RPG fare; you order all of your units in a single turn, then the enemy moves theirs once your turn is over. The direction your character is facing once they end their move is important, as it’s easier to be hit from the side or behind, but you cannot change which direction you’re facing once you’re doing moving or attacking, which can leave your character stranded in bad situations if you’re not thinking several turns in advance. While this might be a staple for gamers used to tactical RPGs (for all I know), I think it’s a negative aspect for people new to the genre.
You can change the difficulty of the game at any point during combat, which is a fantastic addition, meaning you can turn it down if you’re struggling with a certain fight, or turn it up if you’re finding the game a little to easy. I love this feature for a tactical RPG, as most games that would allow you to do that would require to you to quit to the main menu. There is also an in-depth crafting system introduced later in the game, which requires the player to collect items from treasure chests spawned on most maps in the game, as well as items dropped from defeated enemies. It gives the game quite a lot of depth for those who want to complete as much of the game as they can, as the most powerful weapons are worth crafting for the much more difficult later battles.
The graphics are simple, a little too simple, this looks like it belongs on the PlayStation Vita and not the PlayStation 3, however for this sort of game that isn’t a big issue. Thankfully the game has a decent soundtrack, with some catchy tunes accompanying you as you battle an army of enemies. It has to be said that the localization is fantastic, they have done a brilliant job with this title. The Japanese voices are also a real plus point, with each voice matching their character perfectly. It’s a shame that there is no English audio included for those who prefer it.
Tears to Tiara II is not a brilliant game by any means, but if you're a fan of the SRPGs genre, after a heavily plot-driven game with a well designed (if a little clichéd at points!) plot and a main character who quickly grows on you, then this is well worth adding to your collection!