Title: Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics
Developer: Auroch Digital
Publisher: Ripstone Games
Genre: RPG, Tactics
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
Audience: PEGI 16 – Violence
Release Date: 23/11/2018
Price: £21.93 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a turn-based strategy RPG in which the player fights a desperate battle in the shadows of World War II against the Nazis and their inhuman allies. Players take control of a band of heroes trapped behind enemy lines to uncover and foil the Nazi’s plot of evil.
Achtung! Cthulhu originally debuted five years ago as a Kickstarter project from Modiphius. It smashed its original funding goal many times over and has expanded to a wide range of tabletop products including expansions to the RPG, a skirmish miniatures game, novels, audio dramas, and multiple crossovers with other licenses. It has wowed critics as well as players with its sweeping apocalyptic narrative arc and inventive monstrous creations, winning multiple awards since its release.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, from developer Auroch Digital, is a turn-based tactical title set in an alternative 1944 in which both the Axis powers and Allied forces have access to occult powers. It is an isometric game in the vein of XCOM, in which you take control of four allied soldiers who are sent into enemy territory to discover the causes of some very strange events in the appropriately named Forest of Fear.
If you are familiar with Lovecraftian themes, Cthulhu is possibly the most culturally famous creation of HP Lovecraft. It is a horrific mixture of octopus, dragon, and the human form which can cause insanity by simply looking at him. The creature has multiple other personas like The Great Old One, The Great Dreamer, and Sleeper of R’lyeh, and since being created by Lovecraft has become embedded in the public culture as a mythical beast, able to cause nightmares anywhere.
Cthulhu is important to understand in Achtung! because it is based upon a tabletop game, Achtung! Cthulhu, created by Modiphius Entertainment, where the Nazis planned on using this entities abilities to aid them in the war. In the video game, you are thrown into WWII taking place in Germany with a focus on the Nazis use of scientific experimentation with the Nacht Wolfe and the Black Sun. You play as four allied special operatives who are tasked with taking down these shadowy operations and uncovering the dark secrets and sinister plots they’re hiding.
Looks and Sounds
Graphically, Achtung! is fine, although does nothing spectacular and is like many other similar tactics-like titles without as much detail. The linear levels are quite large, and the writing and voice-acting are well produced, but are somewhat stilted and lacking in imagination. Animations are slick and smooth with realist movements when moving in-and-out of cover with appropriate physics as well.
Gameplay and Replayability
The gameplay is built upon two major areas: combat and story. As an RPG, characterisations and character development are two key components to Achtung!’s design, especially being based upon and deeply connected to a tabletop RPG. Unfortunately, you are not able to create your own character and this is a staple of many RPG’s, especially of the tactics variety. It’s more of a personal preference and doesn’t severely take away from the experience, but if you’ve based your game on a universe where you are usually expected to create and design your own in-game persona, it seems to be an odd omission.
Now, if the story was engaging you could easily begin caring about predetermined characters, but unfortunately, the story is basic and the characters backstories are lacking in depth and complexity. The campaign is very linear, and even with the side missions, there’s not much variety or innovation. Also, the four main characters you are given are disappointingly bland, and there is no in-game character dialogue with only the short utterances when moving your units.
Having four distinctly different characters that didn’t share many of the same traits and skills would have helped, however, Achtung! does have different character sheets and unlockable skill trees, but they still lack variety. There are distinctions, such as having a leader, a soldier, a melee specialist, and a basic magic user, but during combat, you frequently have very little recourse except to pull out your gun and shoot something.
Speaking of combat, I found it worked well and was also one of the few areas in Achtung! where the tabletop routes come to the forefront. There is an action point system which determines both how far you can move and how many attacks or actions you can take. This is complemented by a momentum system which allows you to perform character-specific actions or engage the Overwatch, which is a version of the tabletop ready move where your character prepares themselves to take potshots whenever an enemy in a set area takes their move.
The tactics part of the gameplay comes solely from where you position your party during combat, but this is not always implemented very well. It seemed like the developers didn’t seem to fully understand how cover or flanking works, and often the decision as to whether you are in cover or being flanked is an arbitrary one. However, the biggest problem I had was the lack of innovation and use of various elements from the complex tabletop game license.
Enemies you face are a mixture of humans and Cthulhu’s minions. They are very well designed and the demon-like creatures the Nazis have enlisted keep with the mythos. However, the frequency at which they throw these enemies at you is an issue, due to only having to move and shoot for a majority of the play through. You can’t interact with the environment other than hiding behind cover, and there’s a lack of descriptive text to learn more about the lore of this alternate universe. When going between battle sections, there was no dialogue, no exposition, and no story elements, making me wonder why there were even downtimes where you just moved around.
Overall, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics feels like a safe attempt at delivering on the tabletops origins. It’s well-made and solid in its applications and combat, but the developers could have accomplished so much more. Achtung! does not have really any glaring flaws with its brand of tactical action, but there is also nothing special with the lack of imagination and failure to take advantage of the mythos. I would love to see what Auroch Digital could achieve with a sequel as there is a lot of promise and potential with the license.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics on the Microsoft Store at the following link, https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/achtung-cthulhu-tactics/btprw6r6xmpr?activetab=pivot%3Aoverviewtab