July 3, 2022

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics Review

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics achieves much of what it set out to accomplish in it’s Kickstarter campaign. Those expecting a deep tactical experience akin to XCOM may be disappointed but the ease of accessibility demonstrated here is more of a strong point for the game.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is part of Modiphius’ tabletop RPG universe of Achtung! Cthulhu, is a heavy blend of Lovecraft and World War II (Achtung! is an official canon part of the RPG’s lore). In this particular part of the world, your team has a particular set of skills that make them perfect for fighting back the dual threat of Nazis and the brotherhood of the Blood Sun. The focus is on managing that team rather than handling a whole organization. A turn-based strategy it may be, but its tactics by name, tactics by nature for Achtung!


Nazi’s & Monsters

The game takes place shortly after the D-Day landings, in which Cpt Eric ‘Badger’ Harris leads you into deploying from a plane into the open skies. Upon jumping, a strange wind begins to blow and sends you off-course, ultimately forcing you to land in a place known only as the Forest of Fear. You’ll regroup and will then need to work diligently as you try to determine what this place of nightmares is all about. Outgunned and surrounded by man and beast, you press on to complete your task and find out what the Nazis are planning next.


Cthulhu’s simplicity is key here, and due to that, it makes for a surprisingly accessible experience. It’s a top down combat turn-based strategy game that puts your team of four soldiers against a growing army of enemies.


Sounds Complicated

The simplicity comes in the way Cthulhu handles it’s combat phase. When combat begins the enemies take a turn and then you’re up. Unlike some other turn-based games, movement and attack is taken in the same turn. This offers up a huge amount of freedom. Fancy moving and then attacking? Perhaps you want to move, attack, and then move some more? As long as you have enough Action Points, there’s no shortage of ways to play.


Cthulhu has a formula and it sticks to it without compromise. You’ll kill. You’ll level-up. You’ll equip different weapons and items as you unlock them, and tackle heaps of main missions and side objectives throughout your time with the game. It’s really as simple as that sounds.

Free Flowing Gameplay

The flow of each mission sees you moving across the map to locate nearby foes. There’s generally only one route that you can take, and once you’ve completed its combat sequence, you’ll move on to the next area. When you find that you’ve completed every fight, you’re free to move to the goal-point and finish the current level. This is the general principle of play. Whilst that may sound simple as though it’s really lacking in depth, the game’s actual combat picks up the slack overall.


As touched on earlier, the basis of movement and combat relies on Action Points or AP. There’s a total of twelve to use for all four of your characters for use of movement, attack, and utilizing skills. The AP does recharge after each turn, but you’ll still need to be careful with your planning in order to get the best usage out of it. Running alongside this is Momentum, which is earned through both landing critical blows and killing enemies. There’s a cap, much like the AP, so again, some careful planning is needed to bolster your chances of success.   

Attention, Soldiers!

Your characters have unique weapons, each specializing in different skills. Some will be better at close range, others at long, and others may be better for covering fire. Basic weapon loadouts start with the obvious; pistols, shotguns, snipers, and LMGs etc. You’ll earn new mods and items as you make progress, allowing you to further enhance your capabilities and up your defenses. I found the frag grenades and the scopes especially handy. Nevertheless, and regardless as to where you lean, there’s a steady flow of rewards for the time and effort that you put in, collectively making you a more formidable Nazi slaying group.


Each of your characters operate on three components. First, there’s your health bar, which we all know how that works by now. Secondly, there’s your luck, which in this case acts as a sort of shield. The third component is your stress. This will fill whenever you’re close to death or see a team mate take damage or die. Yes, just like real life, get your stress too high and bad things start to happen.

Firstly, you’ll have less AP to spend. Secondly, you’ll attack just about anything, anywhere. Thirdly, you run the risk of injuring yourself in the process. There’s enough aid in the game to keep you well away from going crazy and dying if you play correctly. It’s a clever system that forces you to find the correct balance between defence and offence.

What have the Nazi’s been breeding?

The game has a decent variety of foot soldiers to throw at you ranging from basic grunts to some more technologically aided commanders. It’s the games grim beasts that provide the most challenge though with some able to inflict various status debuffs on members of your squad.


These terrors are explained by the main setting of the game and it’s Lovecraftian themes of Hitler’s experiments with unknown elements. The end result makes for an army of pure evil, one that ensures that you’re always treated to new and interesting encounters within. So while the levels may feel repetitive at times, the enemies certainly do not.

Game Content

There’s a decent blend of main and side missions throughout the game, both of which will offer up plenty of items for completion. Successfully completing a mission will see you earning EXP, which is dished out to each member of your team. Leveling up, like any game, brings its own set of rewards here too. 

This includes increasing your basic stats such as luck and your health, as well as granting you an upgrade point. These points are then used to unlock new skills that can give you an edge in battle or just make you stronger and more durable. Each member has different skills to unlock, many of which will work towards their weapon-types. Other skills are more general in nature and will help further improve base stats.

Overall

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics achieves much of what it set out to accomplish in it’s Kickstarter campaign. Those expecting a deep tactical experience akin to XCOM may be disappointed but the ease of accessibility demonstrated here is more of a strong point for the game. While the game does have some recycled levels and a small amount of reward grinding, there’s an interesting story under it and a varied combat system to tie it all together.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics was reviewed on Xbox One.


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  • 8/10
    Overall - 8/10
8/10

Verdict

I very much enjoyed my time with Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics. It was an easy game to get into and the flow of combat was challenging yet never felt unfair. It makes a great entry point for those looking to explore a more tactical turn-based combat game. Whilst it does have a couple of little niggles with overused level design and a feeling of equipment grinding, it’s not enough to detract from the overall experience.

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