Review by John Hellier
You know, modern media has a lot to answer for. There once was a time where Nazis used to be the biggest bad there was, but over time we seem to have gotten desensitized to them. Nowadays they always need a gimmick, usually in the form of being zombies. Thankfully Achtung! Cthulu Tactics seems to have realized zombies don’t cut it anymore and have brought in the big guns. I’ll give you a second to try and figure out which one I mean.
So yes, Achtung! Cthulu Tactics is a turn-based tactics game set during WW2 where the Nazis have teamed up with Lovecraftian horrors. I have to say, Auroch digital have done a spiffing good job (sorry, after playing this for a while I’ve reverted to a stereotypical Tommy from every media ever. Tally ho chaps). Recently having received a port to the Switch I thought there has never been a better time to give Fritz a jolly good spanking.
As I said, Achtung! Cthulu Tactics is a tactics game and is very similar in gameplay to XCOM. During missions anyway, there is none of that base management or team assignment stuff here. What we do have is a 4-person squad from the Allies taking on the Nazi war machine, and you earn XP to unlock character specific skills. What I found nice and refreshing was the character selection though. Specifically, whilst 3 of the team are typical tropes (American commando, French resistance lady and British captain) the fourth is a Sikh. This might be me, but I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone acknowledge that India fought for the allies. Let’s just call it a nice touch.
Now about that combat. It’s the typical grid-based tactics fare, each team member has an allocation of action points at the start of each turn, so battles become a game of chess, moving troops around balancing attacking and staying in cover. So far so XCOM. However, Achtung! feels a lot fairer…kind of. You see, in XCOM there was an annoying tendency for a shot with 95% chance to hit missing regularly, whereas here the to hit chance is a lot more realistic. That being said, Achtung! pulls its own cheap move, by having enemies keep pouring in to the fray. I get that I’m supposed to be a crack squad of officers, but do I really have to take on the whole army myself?
Now, I didn’t actually get to finish the story by the time of writing this, due to playing on a borrowed Switch and having to wait for the battery to charge every 3 missions. What I can say is that at the point I got up to, the monsters were targets too, not just the Nazis, and thankfully every enemy type requires a different response. Thankfully this keeps combat interesting because at times it becomes a slog.
Remember how I said it feels like taking on the entire army? That wasn’t hyperbole, at times you are engaged with upwards of 10 enemies at a time, with more incoming, and as you only have 4 team members missions can go on for ages. This is certainly not a game for instant gratification. Achtung! provides a lot more of a slow burn, where eventually finishing a mission feels genuinely rewarding.
The difficulty is also nicely balanced. Earning XP unlocks special abilities to make combat easier, but this is balanced by the introduction of more specialized enemies, meaning you never feel under powered. Then again, the enemy that can stagger your entire team, cutting their AP in half, can go directly to hell. Do not pass go, do not collect £200.
So should you Achtung! Cthulu Tactics? Well if you can’t go 30 seconds without an explosion, or you get stumped by games more complicated than noughts and crosses, give this a miss and stick to Call of Duty. Otherwise yes, yes you should. I did in fact, got it for the PS4 to stop having to steal my brothers Switch, but that’s another story.
Overall score 8/10
I really hope Cthulu actually shows up at the end, or I’m calling trading standards