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ACORN Tactics Review

Acorn Tactics has been on my radar ever since it was announced. For one, I really like the developer who is handling the game. I thought their game Factotum was really good on the Wii U. And secondly, I love turn-based strategy games. One of my first loves, at least on consoles, was Shining Force. It was a tactical RPG that was very story and character driven, boasting unique recruitable heroes like werewolves, dragons, and bird people. Players would maneuver their army across a chess board of a battlefield to systematically take out the enemy foes. Now, Sega’s Shining Force wasn’t the first game of its kind, but it was one of the first, and possibly the largest, of its kind to hit American audiences. And, at least for me, it was a huge hit! Naturally, Nintendo had Fire Emblem, but that was primarily a Japanese game until it finally came West on handheld systems. All of that to say, tactical RPG’s aren’t exactly abundant in America, and especially not on home consoles. The good ones are even harder to come across (Oh and I’m a fan of Disgaea).

ACORN Tactics takes place in the future, where a massive flood has covered the world in water. Luckily humans were able to build large oil rig type structures to ensure mankind’s survival. All seems well until one day an alien blob species attacks, hell bent on invading earth and destroying the human race. That’s where you come in. As a new commander, you take control of a squadron of mechs, defend our structures, and try to drive off this blobby alien menace. OK, so it makes very little sense it but also minimizes the production budget, and for a lone wolf developed project I can respect the decision… and the time he saved may have helped bring the game hats! Sorry, a big Team Fortress 2 fan so a little personality from a viking helmet on my mech makes me smile.

What it boils down to is that you’ll have missions of progressively higher difficulty where you’ll first slowly get to know how the game works, your enemy, and the game systems in general. As you get further in your squad’s diversity of mechs will grow, enemies will get more varied, and you’ll end up working through the sort of chess game that these games require, being sure to position your units appropriately to isolate and eliminate enemies while making sure they can’t focus their damage too greatly on a single unit or something key like your healer mech. To help up the challenge each unit has its own range and limitations, snipers can’t hit anything too close, shotgun units have to literally be on top of their target, you won’t want any units between your machine gunner and its target, etc. Once you get a bit deeper into the game cards that you can utilize once per turn will also show up, introducing some additional strategy as well as an element of luck. Once you get through the 25 mission campaign you’ll then be able to engage in additional randomly-generated missions as well, so the bones of a game you can stick with and enjoy with are present. The question in all of this is whether it will suit you well.

Once you boot up the game you are asked to go to the Mech Hangar to build some mechs. At the start you can build Machine Gun, Sniper and Shotgun mechs, giving you a good variety of mechs with short, mid and long range attacks of varying power – a short-range shotgun blast can definitely pack a punch, right? You can pick their names and choose their color, and you can add some extra flair by giving them hats, if you’re into that sort of thing. Once you’ve taken care of that, you’re ready to go into the main campaign. Your team is a solid attack and defense force, and as you progress in the game they will be able to level up to become stronger, and you will need to focus on researching new technology so that you can improve your odds of survival. Your attacks won’t always land since they’re percentage-based, so do take this into consideration when you need to decide which unit to use to attack your enemies. Fear not as a missed attack is not such a bad thing since enemies won’t one-hit you most of the time, but this doesn’t mean you should rush in guns blazing. The locations you’ll fight in feature hiding spots to give you, or your enemies, the tactical advantage, and you’ll definitely need to make the most of them since as you progress in the game you’ll find other types of blobs which deal more damage to you and can also take a beating. Worry not as your team will continue to grow during your quest, and once you have six mechs to control after a lot of research you will almost be unstoppable.

Graphically it isn’t going to win any awards but it is also very clean and shows glimmers of personality nonetheless. Perhaps even moreso than Mario + Rabbids I’d say this is a very accessible tactical strategy game for all ages and for newcomers it is likely a great fit since at least half of the missions take their time to layer on strategic elements piece by piece. While it isn’t blowing the doors off it is at least a reasonably good game for people interested in checking out strategy games.

ACORN Tactics is a very good strategy game with easy to understand gameplay mechanics that will keep you coming back for more until the end. It’s a very addictive release with more than enough missions to complete, and I do want to mention that the game’s music is top-notch and perfectly complements the action. If you’re looking for a game that can scratch that strategy itch on Nintendo Switch, then ACORN Tactics is exactly what you need. TACS has given us a solid strategy release, and I look forward to seeing what this indie does next – probably once again on Nintendo’s hybrid console, right?

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