Tactics Layer is, of course, totally in Japanese. However, it’s very import friendly. There’s a smattering of English phrases mixed in and anyone comfortable with strategic RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and Luminous Arc should have no problem playing this DS game.
The main menu is pretty basic. In order, it goes: new game, continue, an additional option (which I haven’t unlocked yet), information and omake section, a local Wi-Fi battle section and the options menu. The informational and omake section contains character information, costume information, a CG image gallery and battle information. The town menu’s also very easy to peruse, since there are only three options, save, load and options.
The main town is fairly easy to explore, partially because all buildings are represented by icons and titles. If you enter, the top screen will have the location in Japanese and English. From left to right there’s the Akizuki Shrine, Akiduki Dojo, Coffee Bar, Nogawa Laundry, Clinic, School, Hirasaku Shopping Mall, Street, Contest Hall, Park, Gamerssu, Riverbed and Akigahara Electric Street. All locations have an option where you can talk to people, but some have other purposes. You can train your fighters at the Akiduki Dojo, buy clothes at Nogawa Laundry, get items at the Clinic, compete in fashion contests at the Contest Hall and shop and engage in Wi-Fi communications at Gamerssu.
Setting up battles is also just as simple. It’s standard strategic RPG controls and menus. You can place characters initially. Pressing X takes you to the costume menu, where you can alter your characters’ ensembles. The equip menus are organized by tabs with images on them, sorting available pieces into the following categories: hair, top, bottom, socks, shoes, weapons, items, full outfits, skills and an option to check the whole outfit.
As for in-battle, it’s just as simple. Every action is indicated by an icon representing movement, attack, skill, item and end. If you don’t speak Japanese, what skills do can be determined by experimentation. Healing skills tend to have a HP in the description, and you’ll be able to see with targeting if the skill is offensive or defensive. All of your characters’ stats on the top screen are in English, so you’ll have no problem identifying your characters’ movement ranges, strengths and weaknesses.
Since a large part of the game is a visual novel, there’s also the essential skip feature. To skip unnecessary dialogue, press and hold the L or R buttons.
If you’re interested in strategic RPGs and dating sims, and you’re thinking Tactics Layer is the kind of game you’d want to invest in, rest assured that it’s incredibly easy to play.