Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a strategy RPG now out on PS4 infused with the Lovecraftian Mythos. Learn more about it in our Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics review!
The game takes place in 1944 during a mythical timeline where the dark arts are part of the war at hand. Your first mission will take you to the aptly named Forest of Fear where you’ll need to go behind enemy lines to the rendezvous point to meet any of the survivors from Operation Fallen Angels. You are approved to kill any enemy units found in your path, and you’ll need to secure a Forward Operating Base before you are able to report back to headquarters with your findings.
Before I dive into the game, let me talk about the controls. You move the cursor around with the L button and can pan the camera with the R button. The X button is for confirming, while the Circle button is for going back. You can change the angle with the Triangle button and can reload your main weapon with the Square button. The L1 and R1 buttons are for toggling between your units or your targets, while the L2 button can be used for zooming when held down. The R2 button is for toggling the action menu. The final set of commands are for the D-Pad, with left and right being used for selecting actions or rotating the camera left and right, up is used to toggle tutorial messages, and down is for Overwatch – more on this one in a bit.
Before you begin the campaign, you’ll need to select between the four available difficulty settings. Easy is recommended for those new to turn-based tactics games, while Normal is the regular experience that the developer and publisher want players to enjoy. There is also a Hard option for experienced players, as well as a Mythic option for those who don’t fear madness. You can also select to enable or disable the tutorial that will guide you through your first mission so that you can get the hang of things.
Once you move your character and encounter an enemy group, you’ll need to plan things just right so that you can succeed. After moving each of your units you will need to select the direction in which they’ll be facing, and this plays a part into how they use their attacks and abilities, as well as to how much damage they can deal and how badly they can be damaged by enemies. You’ll need to make the most of the cover you have in each area – you’ll be able to identify cover by the shield icon. If the icon has a black line going through it, then this means that said cover is flanked by an enemy unit, which is not good as this means the cover is pretty much useless and does not grant you any bonuses.
Enemies are first shown as dark shadows and are only revealed when they are close to you within your line of sight. Once a unit is uncovered you will learn more about its type and hit points so that you can plan accordingly. And now, let’s talk about Overwatch. Units can cover an area with protective fire, which means that all enemies that try to enter the area or shoot from it will be attacked by your unit that is defending it. You must activate Overwatch with the R2 button and select it from the available options, and placing your units just right will be a must if you want to stay alive in this game.
And when fighting the good fight, you also need to consider luck. Luck will act as a shield against the damage you can receive. Your luck will go down as you “take damage,” and once all of your luck has run out, you will start to lose health. Health is your final defense line and what will keep you from suffering a gruesome death. Health can only be recovered by medics while on the field, but once you complete a mission, it will be recovered in full so that you can take on the next mission with all of your strength. And then, there’s stress. Your units will suffer stress when they take damage, when they’re attacked by shrouded or eldritch entities, or when they see allies being greatly wounded or knocked out. If stress is full, that character will panic, which is not good… at all.
At the start of each turn Momentum Points (MP) will be generated depending on which character has the highest Leadership. MP can also be obtained from landing critical hits or by activating some of the specific skills of your characters. Your MP gauge, which is located on the upper left corner of the screen, will let you know how many MP you have available at any given time, and this is valuable information since, if you plan things right, you might be able to go all out and unleash two attacks with your secondary weapon to kill one enemy before you activate Overwatch in the general direction of another pair of enemies that might be dumb enough to try and outflank you.
When you complete a mission you will be awarded with experience points which will go to your party, allowing you to level up when you gain enough, increasing each of your characters’ level, thusly boosting their stats which include their health points, ranged accuracy, melee accuracy, leadership, willpower and speed – obviously not all at once since that would make you overpowered after a handful of extra levels! You will also get skill points for each of your characters, which you can spend in the Skills tab to gain access to his/her skill tree where you can purchase active and passive skills. Each character also has a unique starting skill which costs only 1 SP, which you should unlock right away. You can get later skills in the skill tree without first unlocking those that come before it in the corresponding branch, so be sure to plan accordingly!
If at some point you want to change the distribution of skill points for a character, you will need to select the retrain option which will refund all skill points and remove all unlocked skills. This is a very powerful option, which is why the game won’t let you do it whenever you want to. You’ll first need to complete a set number of missions before the option is available to you, and if you want to retain again after that, you will need to once again complete the number of missions that the game asks you to. This is important because skills are not only spread in branches but also over concentric circles, so you’ll need to take unlock everything in a circle before moving on to the next one.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy for you. There are 29 trophies in total plus the Platinum, which means there are several objectives you’ll need to complete if you want to get a new Platinum for your collection. These include completing a mission without taking damage, killing 100 and 200 enemies, throwing 20 grenades, using ten medkits, killing three enemies with a single character in 1 turn, kill an enemy with your critical damage bonus or completing all main and side objectives in all missions, to name some examples.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a fun strategy RPG with plenty of content to play and a supernatural coat of paint thanks to the Cthulhu mythos. The mix of a world war setting and Cthulhu nightmare-inducing elements is not going to be for everyone, but if you give this slow-burner of a game a chance, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. It’s not setting out to reinvent the wheel, but what it does is give us a polished and streamlined take on the elements we’ve come to expect from the strategy RPG genre. Auroch Digital and Ripstone have done a good job in bringing this one to the PlayStation 4, and I look forward to playing it as I work on unlocking the set of trophies I’m missing for my new Platinum.
This Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Ripstone.