This game is one of those that people talk about, saying “they had potential”. I mean, seriously, Lovecraftian Mythos, Occult Nazi Division, Allies’ Supernatural Elite Force – all mixed in one single plot. You can spin this in dozens of different ways, starting from philosophical parable down to trashy Z-action. And yet, “Achtung! Cthulthu Tactics” doesn’t go for neither of those. Or rather goes for all and doesn’t exactly reach.
Game’s combat interface was definitely made in XCOM image. However, instead of just two moves per turn, every unit has 12 Action Points to spend on different actions. And unlike XCOM, when put on “Overwatch” you have to specify the area that unit is going to check.
Another departure from XCOM is “Momentum” mechanic. When your units score critical hits, they increase Momentum Points pool (in addition to MP your team already have). And then you can use MP to make some special (or not very special) actions. For example, “Overwatch” costs MP. Use of a sidearm (pistol) uses MP. Turning unit (to change cone of vision) costs either MP or AP. And some actions, like machine-gun burst fire, cost both MP and AP.
With some of the most advanced skills, that your characters get in a later game, you will be able to make powerful combos to gain MP and then unleash devastating attacks on your enemies. And teamwork becomes increasingly important, as a chance to hit the enemy greatly increases when one of your units comes close to that enemy and “shedding light on it”.
Achtung! Cthulthu Tactics has also a rather interesting implementation of “Luck”. It basically serves as a force field, that is added to health, but unlike health restores after all enemies in current battle are defeated. Never saw other games making expression “run out of luck” so literal.
Too bad that by the time, when your team starts really shine with advanced abilities, you as a player will probably become rather bored. Because you see, the missions themselves don’t really differ much.
Yes, in some of them you have to steal intelligence, in others kill a specific enemy or destroy some object. But while those sound like different tasks during the briefing, in the field you will have to eliminate all the guards anyway. And only after defeating all enemies you will be able to take/investigate/destroy mission objectives.
It certainly doesn’t help that most maps are totally linear. And unlike XCOM you operate only on a ground level without high or low locations. And there are no destructible objects, except the ones that are mission objective. And all major types of enemies, including shoggoths, are introduced half-way through the game.
Thus gameplaywise second half of the game is somewhat of a drag. You already progress to superior abilities that allow your team to dominate over the battlefield and enemies become a threat only because of increasing numbers. Only someone who is new to the whole genre can find it engaging. Some Lovecraft fan who wants to try turn-based genre, maybe?
Sadly, fans of Lovecraftian Horror probably would be disappointed too. Aside from shoggoths and humans transformed into squid-faced creatures, Achtung! Cthulthu Tactics has little to do with Cthulhu Mythos. It’s more like a 60-s era monster movie. Or 60-s cheesy action movie.
And that wasn’t derogatory terms, by the way. Developers indeed put a lot of effort to create an appropriate atmosphere. Ambient music, clips from old radio broadcasts during briefings, briefings themselves combining cheesiness and gruesomeness. Characters look as if they came right out of some pulp fiction novel.
Too bad that there is a very little exploration of characters themselves. How Hindu mystic ended up in British commandos? What’s the story behind a woman from French resistance and her familiar? Some side missions could at least spark interest if they were to tell about those things, instead of being just “supply raids”.
And as we are on the topic of side missions. While they were supposed to make a game non-linear, in reality, a player who wants quicker progression has no choice but to play them. And since there is only one side mission after each story mission, there can be only one order. Well, except if some of your four main characters been captured (which happens if you haven’t revived them in three turns after their health reached zero).
In that case, you have to go for another mission, that btw isn’t connected with your captured character in any way. You replace captured comrade with one of two “backups”. And after you complete the mission former captive returns to your team without any repercussions.
Even skill progression remains intact because exp is awarded to the whole team. And total skill points of your characters are defined solely by team level! And if you still managed to screw up by choosing a sub-par set of skills, you can reassign them every two main missions!
Achtung! Cthulthu Tactics, while having some interesting mechanics, becomes quite repetitive in the second half of the campaign. Missions themselves provide challenge only on top (Mythic) difficulty. The story is nothing more, but “a team of brave Allies with magic kick ass of evil Nazis who use shoggoths for a new superweapon”. Yes, I don’t consider that a spoiler.
I’m not saying Achtung! Cthulthu Tactics is a bad game. Clearly, developers put quite some efforts in creating an atmosphere of 60-s cinema and radio-plays. But with an abundance of turn-based tactics on Steam, it doesn’t really worth much. If you want to fight Nazis there is a Silent Storm that has sci-fi/hidden history elements. And for Cthulhu Mythos fans I personally would rather recommend X-com: Terror From the Deep, that provides more tactical options, more challenge, a more interesting story(!) and more ideas from Lovecraft’s works.