Top Critic Average
With its unfair gameplay and messy combat, Natural Doctrine is nothing more than a tedious, rage-inducing nightmare.
Strategy fans who tolerate this game's abuse will find a rewarding combat system that isn't easy to master
Natural Doctrine takes strategy role-playing games one step forward, and several clumsy steps back.
Natural Doctrine isn't atrocious, but it does have a lot of issues. It's as frequently enjoyable as it is repugnant, an experience that will often blindside you with cheap deaths that reek of artificial difficulty. Some will enjoy it, sure. But it's a hard sell to all but the most staunch and patient SRPG fans. And even then it will undoubtedly test those players' resolve.
It's still one of my favorite games this year, but the flaws keep me from recommending it to everyone; this is a game for those who love the genre, and want an old-school tactical RPG challenge.
Natural Doctrine was never going to bring hardcore strategy to the masses. The developer knew exactly who they were targeting with their debut title and, for those players, the game will prove a worthwhile experience. For those who aren't too hot on their strategy role playing games, however, Natural Doctrine is a risk, yet one still worth taking if you're looking for something testing and out-of-the-norm.
A difficult game that is hard to enjoy
Hardcore strategy RPG fans may find a decent experience here. In fact, it may simply be the case that Natural Doctrine's blend of punishing difficulty and simple presentation don't gel with everyone. One thing that is certain is that Natural Doctrine us not designed for the casual crowd, and unless you're prepared to invest time and energy into learning its systems inside out – and then are still prepared to try and try again when you do know what you're doing – you'd be advised to away from this one.
Natural Doctrine is a broken attempt at revitalizing the tactical RPG genre. At first glance, it appears to have all the markings of a classically inspired and intelligently designed strategy game. But sadly, despite delivering its own rare bursts of satisfaction, it remains frustratingly bogged down by artificially challenging gameplay, a confusing and overtly complex user interface and a painfully slow pacing that will try the patience of even the most Zen-like of gamers. If you're looking for the next Final Fantasy Tactics, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to keep looking elsewhere.
Natural Doctrine's combat system is ingenious, but it's obstructed by its complexity, while the remaining aspects of the release just about fulfil their roles to the point of adequacy. Although the game's intricacies will instantly cut itself out of most of the market, it's certainly a fantastic strategy title in its own right, which will challenge even the most adept players. This is a must buy for genre fans, then – and a cautionary tale for newcomers.