Southeast Asia’s game development scene is one of the most rapidly growing of the world. While behemoths like Google Play are reaching out for potential in all of SEA, XII Braves is a Singaporean studio already showing triple-A quality, and no fear of competing in the international market.

Their flagship game, Valiant Force, is a recently launched turn-based strategic RPG, that’s steadily becoming one of SEA’s mobile gaming staples, with a promising international future. The game has plenty of the genre staples, like multiple classes (from archers to clerics) and rewards, but has set himself apart from others thanks to its grid-based battle system.

While dealing with grids is common in the Final Fantasy/Fire Emblem style games, in Valiant Force, characters placed next to each other can “link” and combine their powers for more lethal attacks (this is called “Aura Link”). Since the grids are very small, and your own attacks have different areas of effect, we end up with a battle system where positions are as relevant as the actual attacks, adding a nice layer of depth for the more hardcore players.

As a recent game, Valiant Force is constantly changing, and it just launched its biggest update yet, including new characters, challenges and game modes:

The towers of Firestorm and Keep are made of burning ash and paved with the ruin of heroes. Unlike previous challenges in the game, the towers might be too much for a single player, so the game has introduced ways to call forth your guild for help – and to gang-up and beat the tower together.

One of the towers’ most particular characteristics is how their difficulty evolves, or rather, dwindles as more and more players collaborate: not only is it easier to complete the towers with your guildmates, but every time one of you challenges a monster and falls, the monster stays weakened. Combine this with the fact multiple players can get into the towers, and what you get is an interesting spin to teamwork: you can reap the rewards of someone else’s sacrifice, and so can they with your death.

The update also introduced a new Champion into the frame: Sven Larsson, a Summoner capable of channelling the fire power of his pet wyvern, and older sibling of Talissa, a previously introduced Smmoner. While a new hero bring new strategic opportunities to the table, it’s a very nice touch they also tied him up nicely with the game’s lore, going as far as explaining his personality traits, and personal details like age or hometown.

The Valiant Force design team takes pride on “constantly tweaking and improving the game’s content”, and a quick glance on their future plans (e.g. new heroes, new ways to get resources, adjustment to the competitive ladder and even fanart contests!) show a great deal of care towards the game and it’s playerbase.

All in all, Valiant Force sports very detailed and gorgeous art, an uncommonly dark and interesting story (won’t spoilt too much, but family betrayal and murder is a big factor), and a not-so-overdone battle grid system. Don’t be fooled by the gratuitous fanservice and the reminiscence to more generic titles, Valiant Force manages to combine the casual elements with a deeper gameplay experience making it a proud showcase of SEA’s restless progress in game development.

Valiant Force is currently available for free on both Android and iOS stores. You can follow up with XII Braves on their Facebook page.

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