At PAX East this year I discovered a game called Telepath Tactics. The booth was run by a man who turned out to be the developer behind it, and a woman who had an awesome cosplay but I couldn’t quite figure out who she was. I quickly discovered she was portraying one of the in-game characters, Sabrina, after I loaded up the demo. It was so cool! Telepath Tactics is a fantasy era, grid-based combat game. As in most grid-based combat games, the placement of your party members in relation to enemies determines how much damage you deal and how much damage you take. If their back is turned, they have a much lower chance to dodge you and take more damage when hit. Should you be behind a rock or tree, attacks from or against you may be weakened or miss entirely. There are two game modes: normal mode and casual mode. In the normal mode, should any of your party members die (aside from the two heroes), they will die permanently. They will, however, later be replaced by the game by introducing new characters. This system is similar to that of the Fire Emblem series, one of the inspirations for the game. In casual mode, should a party member fall, they will only be gone for the duration of the fight, ready to return to battle for the next. In both modes, should a main character fall, the game is over. The story follows two sisters, Sabrina and Emma, who are trying to find their father after being held, and mysteriously trained to fight, by lizard people for most of their lives. They escape and meet adventurers of all sorts along their journey who join their party. Each joins your party for their own reasons, but ultimately they all come together to take on a common enemy. Play alternates between your party and the AI party (or parties) rather than each individual having initiative. On a turn, characters may move and use items or special abilities before attacking, as attacking ends that character’s turn. In order to finish each fight, the goal you’re given at the beginning of the battle must be completed. Typically these goals are to kill the bad guy who has a name, but that bad guy is usually surrounded by swarms of troops that you must fight through to get to them. The meat and potatoes of this game is the fighting. For the most part, it’s a solid experience and is easy to pick up. You may have to do some fights over and over again as you attempt to determine the best approach to win, but that seems to be expected and intended. All of that said, I struggled with some parts of this game more than I needed to due to two seemingly little things: a store UI that is dreadful to use and the inability to return to the store when reloading saved games after losing. Navigating the store is an exercise in frustration as you try to determine if an item is an upgrade or not. There is no compare feature I could find that allows you to see what you have equipped and how it compares to an item in the store. You must do this manually, which means backing out of most of the store, going to your inventory, and seeing what the characters in your party are equipped with. It’s tedious. There was one fight that gave me immense difficulties. It’s a fight where one of the enemies was a mage who would cast various fireballs at my party. Any of her fire attacks would do lots of damage and leave the victim burning. This combination would leave my party members low on health and taking small amounts of burning damage at the start of each turn–or, more accurately, they would take lots of damage, take burning damage, and die before I was even able to try to address curing and healing up. I had no chance to recover at all. Being that it was usually one of my main characters who was hit, once they died it would mean game over. After this happened a few times, I wanted to go back to the store and see if there was any kind of burn salve. There may be, but the game sure isn’t going to let you go back. In order to see the store again, you have to beat the stage, but you may not be able to beat the stage without going back to pick up a potentially useful item. If you get a game over or attempt to reload the game, you go right back to the beginning of the fight, not allowing you to ever see the store again. At this point, it could be an infinite loop as you struggle to get by, unable to improve your situation. There are some cool touches to the game that stand out. Your characters are able to push other NPCs, which, if done correctly, will throw them into rivers or even lava! You can also push rocks to make bridges or hack away trees to clear a path. Another mode of play is a combat arena where you can create your own encounters against the AI or other players locally. Overall, there’s a fun game here, but it’s not without its frustrations. The combat is fun and challenging, though definitely more so if you forget to pick up a useful item or two at the store before your fight.