- Developer: Auroch Digital
- Publisher: Ripstone
- Release Date: 24/01/2019
- Price: £17.99 / $24.99
- Rating: PEGI 16 / Teen – Blood & Violence
- Review Code provided by Ripstone
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a squad based, tactical, turn-based game that takes place in Nazi occupied Europe. The game is based off of Modiphius Entertainment’s Achtung! Cthulhu tabletop RPG and features the often used occult + Nazi formula.
You control a squad of elite soldiers tasked to hunt down the Nazis after becoming trapped behind enemy lines. There are some RPG elements like skill trees and equipment to power up your squad.
I purposefully left out the word “strategy” from the description, one thing missing from Acthung! Cthulhu Tactics is a real sense of strategy, there’s no squad setup to begin a fight. Fans of the tactical RPG genre will remember games like Final Fantasy Tactics where part of passing a mission was selecting your team and selecting the starting formation.
All of the familiar tactical elements are here though. Your squad mates can be moved into cover, provide overwatch, reload their guns, change their direction, etc.
When a mission is started your squad will be dropped into a map where you will control where the squad walks around looking for enemies. For the most part there isn’t much to do until you find where the enemies, there’s a few interactive spots on the maps that provide some story and flavor to the missions.
Combat starts when you get into visual range of an enemy soldier, this is the meat and potatoes of the game, turn-based tactical, Nazi-demon killing action.
Each character starts with 12 action-points (AP) which can be increased in the skill trees. Moving, shooting, reloading, and skills all consume AP so each turn needs to be planned out, do you make 2 or 3 low percentage shots or do you move and take a single higher percentage shot? In addition to each character’s AP there is a party-based system called Momentum. Your momentum points can be used to take extra actions, perform special attacks. Momentum is replenished back every turn and bonuses can be earned by killing enemies or completing mission goals.
There’s a lot of details to consider when planning out your turns and it’s possible to expose your squad and leave them vulnerable if care isn’t taken. Each character’s main weapon has a limited number of shots and it costs AP to reload it.
You also have to pay attention to the direction that your character is facing and their “vision cone”. The vision cone will reveal what type of enemy you’re fighting, and you will have a higher hit chance when shooting at enemies in your cone. Also when you spend some momentum you can have a character go into overwatch mode where they will attack an enemy that takes an action inside their cone.
The final mechanic which is pretty interesting is stress, whenever a character takes damage, sees an eldritch entity or sees a squad mate get injured or knocked out. When a character’s stress meter is filled they go crazy and you lose control of them, similar to a confusion status from other RPGs they can attack friend and for alike.
Enemies and their A”I”
For a game advertised as being a Lovecraftian mix of Nazis and dark magic the initial missions are pretty vanilla. You will fight a mix of different Nazi soldiers that will have different weapons and different levels of HP, without spoiling the game and going into detail about the missions I will simply say that you have a little bit of fighting to do before you get into the occult.
The enemy AI is pretty interesting, during the first two missions the enemies were so sparse that they spent more time retreating and never once actually attacked. Typically when an enemy is overwhelmed they will retreat back into undiscovered areas of the map in an effort to take cover or group up with other enemies. It is a credit to the enemies that they don’t simply rush at you one at a time, but it seems like the enemies prioritize movement more than fighting.
- Combat is smooth, that variety of skills and options let you play the levels in multiple ways.
- Music and environments fit perfectly in the atmosphere of WWII and the occult universe.
- Great balance of RPG elements – nothing requires micromanaging
- Enemy AI makes missions overly easy and tedious
- Tactical options like party set-up and squad selects are missing
- Mission maps are empty and there’s a lot of downtime walking and looking for enemies.
Overall Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a solid strategic RPG game and fans of either the game genre or the occult-Nazi theme will find it enjoyable. It does feel like there’s some flaws that prevent it from being a classic, but it is definitely a solid piece of entertainment.