I turn a corner and there's a procession of three skeletons waiting, red exclamation marks firing over their heads as they spot me. When I say "I turn a corner" though, what I actually mean is "I spend an action point to walk my Savage around the corner using a visualization for how far I can move and still be able to attack that is straight out of XCOM: Enemy Unknown", because Fort Triumph is a strategy game that's explicitly a fantasy version of XCOM.
But there's more to Fort Triumph than its obvious inspiration, as the ensuing combat demonstrates. My Savage defeats the first skeleton in the procession with her claw attack, and to deal with the second I move my Mage into position. She launches a whirlwind spell that knocks it back into the monster at the rear of the trio, a giant megaskeleton. The smaller of the two enemies collapses into bones right away, and the bigger one is pushed back into a wall and stunned for a turn, losing its attack. That gives me time to get both the Paladin into position and line up another clawing from the Savage, taking out all of the undead without any damage to my adventurers.
Being able to move enemies around, not just with magic spells but also the Ranger's grappling hook and the other characters' kick attacks, makes Fort Triumph feel like a much more playful take on turn-based tactics. The environment can be messed with too, and I knock over more than one pillar to squish a wizard or goblin hiding behind it, while sometimes having my own cover demolished by arrows. Crates and outcrops of crystal slide across the battlefield, and a quick rain spell can make them even more slippery.
Between battles there's no base to upgrade, but there is an overworld map straight out of a Heroes of Might and Magic game. My band of adventurers marches across it finding quests, talking to hermits, visiting the tavern, and stumbling into random encounters. Members of other factions do likewise on their turns. Just like in Might and Magic, every week the overworld is restocked with loot and the remaining monsters get tougher.
The final thing making Fort Triumph its own thing is the tone, fantasy-comedy somewhere between the Rat Queens comic (opens in new tab) and Overlord (opens in new tab). Not all of the gags land—the spiders who quote Monty Python at their queen, for instance—but the ones that do are pretty good, and there's definitely room in strategy games for more lighthearted goings-on. When I hear a cry for help coming from a well and choose to investigate, the well comes to life and reveals that it's been tricking people so it can eat them. After I defeat its lackeys I let it live but turn the talking well into a tourist attraction, collecting a share of the money it raises from visitors. That's just the kind of thing that happens in Fort Triumph's cartoony world.
Fort Triumph was recently released on Early Access after a successful Kickstarter (opens in new tab) raised $78,000. It's definitely an unfinished game, with some whiffy combat animations and the occasional battle that goes on too long. There's one in particular with mages protecting a dimensional breach that throws identical wizard after wizard at you, all of them marching into cover and going into overwatch one at a time. But incomplete as it is, Fort Triumph is still helping me scratch that turn-based itch—especially with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (opens in new tab) still a ways off.
As well as the Early Access version, there's a short demo available on its Steam page (opens in new tab).