Valiant Force is a meld of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and grid-based combat similar to that in Final Fantasy Tactics, but in a mobile package that players can fire up anywhere they go.
The developers behind Valiant Force, XII Braves, are industry veterans, having worked in various gaming companies before striking out on their own.
This collective experience shows in the game's loving dedication to the JRPG genre. The core of the game is simple: build a party of heroes, go out and kill monsters, and return stronger and better able to kill tougher monsters.
In the tradition of JRPGs, Valiant Force can be punishingly grindy, especially when you are constantly battling to level up your heroes.
You can have up to five heroes at a time in your active party, which you take out into the world to do battle.
The top half of your screen renders the battlefield, while character movement and attacking are done by swiping on a grid on the bottom half - an effective, intuitive way of making use of a mobile screen.
Character positioning is crucial, as the game features an "aura" mechanic that grants bonuses when certain characters stand next to each other.
This tactical depth is balanced by strategic planning in having a well-rounded party composition.
The game has six different classes with their own sub-classes and various specialisations - known as jobs - that is a hallmark of the JRPG genre. Yet I felt the host of options, while varied, gave only the illusion of depth to the game. By focusing on quantity instead of quality, the game feels longer and denser, but not as fulfilling.
Valiant Force's graphics are stellar for a mobile game, featuring lavish character artwork and well-rendered character models for various monsters and heroes.
However, its user interface is cluttered, which can be intimidating for the new player.
PRICE: Free with in-app purchases (Android, iOS)
GENRE: Tactical role-playing game
As with any free-to-play mobile game, you are constantly reminded of how much faster you can progress if you plonk down real cash to unlock gold and other items. The promotions can feel a bit blatant at times - especially when they pop up right after tough boss battles.