The Protagonist: EX-1 Gameplay Preview – Turn based strategy

Developed and published by 3Mind Games – March 2, 2021 (PC)
*MSRP: $12.99 –

The Protagonist: EX-1 is a turn based strategy game with a sci-fi narrative. You play the role of Angel, a rather buxom special agent in charge of a tactical squad infiltrating an alien space station. Things go terribly wrong and she wakes up inside the station with amnesia.

While exploring you may run across some light puzzles involving cubes. It’s not too difficult but moving them around felt sluggish.

The game has two modes, exploration and combat. When in the exploration phase you can freely move about the level. You can collect scrap, which is your primary crafting material. You can run into some narrative segments as well, such as the part where you rescue a dog. It’s wearing a body suit too for some reason. The dog is actually a great support unit that can resurrect fallen units as well as heal them. Sometimes you may run into some light puzzle segments to get past blocked sections as well as access some secret areas off the main path.

The combat is standard turn based strategy fare. You miss shots you needed and hit the ones you don’t. Rage!!!

The combat phase is the meat of The Protagonist. It is a pretty standard turn based strategy game. Each character takes turns according to their Initiative stat. When it’s the character’s turn, they can take any action as long as they have the action points to do so. Most actions, such as walking and healing, take one action point where as using a weapon such as a gun will take two. Some special actions will take three action points, such as hacking an enemy target. Most turns you will be able to move and attack two targets, until you level up your Reflexes stat, which will increase the number of action points available.

The Martial Arts Combat System is a neat addition and gives you basically an extra combo attack for one action point.

There is one unique feature to The Protagonist. Each character, including the dog, can do hand to hand combat (paw to hand for the dog). Initiating a melee attack will use one action point to start, but executing the actual hand to hand combat moves will use the Martial Arts Combat System, or M.A.C.S. for short. Here you can pick your attack combo from punches, kicks, elbows, and knees as long as you have enough M.A.C.S. points available. After successfully landing enough attacks, your ultimate combo will unlock and you can use it on any nearby enemy.

The skill trees and specializations are pretty involved and give you the ability to customize your characters.

The game also features a pretty involved skill tree and specializations for each character. You can also level up the basic stats to your liking as well. There’s plenty of tweaking to do per character to create a party that will suit your play style.

The game does have a narrative but I felt that the writing was hit or miss sometimes.

Overall, The Protagonist: EX-1 is a promising turn based strategy game. It is a bit rough in some areas. The user interface can be a little frustrating to deal with at times. It can be a bit laggy, buggy, and feel a bit unresponsive. For example, it is a bit difficult to click on tiles when the tile in front of it has an object on it. It makes the combat and movement feel a bit sluggish. Complaints aside, the combat is fairly enjoyable. If the game gets a bit more polish on the user interface side, it will be a very competent game for fans of the genre.

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