As a fan of tabletop games, indie games, Lovecraftian games, and strategy games, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is one I’ve been looking forward to since I first learned about its development. I asked early on for a review key and was rewarded a few weeks ago with one. So is it any good? Well, let’s see…
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics: First Impressions
Upon firing it up, the game has a nice vintage vibe. The splash and menu screens have the sort of polish you’d expect from a well-thought-out game and the music and sounds have the same finished quality. Activating menus triggers a paper-rustling sound which seems weird but is oddly satisfying. The ‘40s-era music is also very nicely incorporated.
Graphically, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is nothing to write home about. It’s not bad, it’s not great. The lighting effects are minimal and character and animations are passable. More than anything, the graphics are functional and solid. No bugs, no breaking. No complaints.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is based on the tabletop game Achtung! Cthulhu, and if feels very much like a tabletop strategy game. Most strategy gamers will instantly recognize the similarity to the X-Com games. Not a bad comparison, really. But as a longtime tabletop strategy gamer, I think X-Com borrows from games like Warhammer and Warmachine more than most video gamers realize. So yes, there’s a similarity there, but it’s almost unavoidable. Besides that, the similarity is really in the interface, movement and combat system only.
Players take the role of a squad of four special-ops, allied soldiers deep behind enemy lines. They fight their way through roving squads of Nazis and specialized Nazi units that blend dark technology, arcane magic and eldritch rituals. Fight your way through story and side quests to stop the Nazis from completing their foul summoning. If you can (Bwahahaa!)
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics may play like X-Com, but maps are laid out much more like a dungeon crawl. Players complete simple, one-step missions (intercept the crate, take out the enemy, investigate the whatever) to progress the story. Most of these missions take place in murky Nazi-infested swamps and in underground bunkers. Some of the missions take place in a dreamlike elder dimension that’s a bit more interesting.
While the dungeon-crawl gameplay is somewhat addictive and fairly rewarding, it does become repetitive. The four playable characters are the only four playable characters, and the list of enemies is pretty short. There are plenty of shoggoths to fight, but I was somewhat disappointed by their sprites and they are so slow, I don’t think I ever once got attacked by one.
Player characters do have some cool skills to unlock. After a time, a few characters become significantly more powerful than the others. Still, the balance of support and attack characters is pretty good and not a big deal.
Sure! Despite its repetitiveness, Acthung! Cthulhu Tactics still delivers highly-addictive and satisfying gameplay. While it could use a bit more Cthulhu and a few more tactics, I’m a believer. This game seems ripe for some early DLC, too. Some additional content will make this game a real gem. Some new weapons, characters, enemies and all. But even as it is, vanilla Cthulhu is playable and definitely worth a look!