Gather round ghouls and zombettes – tonight I will recount the tale of how the human race went extinct and we, the supernatural beings, were finally allowed to live (well…) in peace. The story of how the humans began disregarding science, believing ignorance and arrogance to lead to happiness. HA! The poor souls didn’t know what was in store for them; we came back and drove them extinct. Today, you can be safe in the knowledge that there is not a single human in sig… – Say what? You saw a human? WHERE?
PUTTING “SUPER” BACK IN SUPERNATURAL
The main task in turn-based action RESEARCH and DESTROY is guiding a team of three super scientists in their battle against the supernatural. Their ultimate goal: liberate Earth from those evil undead hands. Accomplishing this requires attacking territories on the map; driving away enemy forces; and researching new technologies to stay ahead of the supernatural. The three scientists’ characteristics aren’t that different – but their weapons are. The latter include a flame/ice-thrower, a laser rifle and a rocket launcher.
Combat happens on a 3D battlefield. When no character is selected, the player can freely look around with WASD; a useful feature, since enemies often spawn and move around places where it’s almost impossible to catch them. Each character has an allotted time slot during which to move: during battles, everything except looking around consumes time. This even includes holstering a gun. Each weapon has different firing modes, handy for dealing with stronger enemies. There’s also a cover system, which helps make more precise shots, and recover health and time by picking up items dropped by killed supernatural entities.
I, ZOMBIE – YOU ZOMBIE, HE ZOMBIES
Enemies all clearly belong to the classic “universal monster” variety: mummies, zombies, ghosts, werewolves and the like. The game keeps a firm tongue-in-cheek vibe throughout, from the introduction all the way to the cutscenes introducing new enemies during the level – with horror movie quotes to boot. For most missions, our objective is either to dispose of all opposition, reach a safe zone, or activate some thingamajig that’ll help in our research. In the end, the task doesn’t make much difference: it mostly comes down to going from point A to point B, while killing everything in sight.
Unfortunately, there is one problem I see with RESEARCH and DESTROY. Unlikes in games like XCOM there is no set number of enemies for each mission. Instead, there’s a constant stream of randomly spawning foes. In the former system, whenever a game pits you against overwhelming numbers, with some strategy there’s a good chance to survive. But going into missions with no idea how many opponents you’ll encounter, with additional foes spawning every turn, isn’t that entertaining long-term. Especially when the objective is always the same. And, after completing all the objectives, the game doesn’t just let you win. Instead, it likes to wait a set number of turns while you’re trying to survive, which only adds to the repetitiveness.
NOW FOR THE RESEARCH PART
Since our team is made of scientists, research is quite clearly an important part of the gameplay. With each mission we complete, we collect “science” points, which we can use to research enemies, upgrade weapons and reinforce our base – which is basically a university. In addition, it’s possible to develop new gadgets, like rocket boots for better jumping. Other than by completing missions, science points are acquired by examining dead bodies on the ground.
Finally, there’s a strong multiplayer component, including playing local – opening up the possibility of letting other players control the scientists. Each of the latter can also be freely customized – like, one character is a direct reference to Among Us. The game being released by Spike Chunsoft, you can expect to find costume packs from Danganronpa, Steins;Gate and several other franchises related to the Japanese publisher.
Overall, RESEARCH and DESTROY is an entertaining turn-based strategic game, which – due to its great difficulty balance – is accessible to newcomers and entertaining for experts. Also, the quite amusing horror vibes are definitely my jam. Unfortunately, the overall repetitive nature of the missions plus the constant spawning of enemies do tend to let fatigue seep in after a while. As such, it’s probably a game better played in short bursts or with a friend.