NB. This is an early preview and so does not warrant a review score. A full review will be available once the final game is released.
Acaratus is a tactical turn based strategy game set in a medieval steampunk world from Swedish developer Nodbrim Interactive and has spent four years in development, with one year in early access. Although initially interesting, this is a game that I am not sure will be for everyone. The rather slow pace and storyline make it somewhat underwhelming but it is saved by the fact that as a tactical game it is tough and certainly gets you thinking.
Acaratus’ campaign begins with a short history of the world in which your character, Adina, lives. After a great war known as the Valerian conflict, where soldiers fought in mechanical battle suits, a bit of a crazy emperor takes the throne (classic, it’s always the crazy ones). In order to keep power and slaves under control, mech suits are outlawed for everyone apart from his troops. Adina however, kept a battle suit but is reported by one of her slaves to the guards. The troops are told to kill everyone within the household however, so the slave then decides to save his master.
This slave then proceeds to help Adina escape in her battle suit which conveniently the slave can control. I mean, if I was that slave, I’d be escaping and getting rid of Adina pretty swiftly in the process, but hey. From here he then somehow convinces her to begin some sort of slave uprising which initially she isn’t particularly into. As a storyline it isn’t the most gripping, which isn’t helped by the inclusion of various cheesy and somewhat distasteful jokes which I think it could do without.
That said, the gameplay is pretty tough. The battles themselves are in a chess style piece by piece move in which you must destroy all the other team’s mech units. This can be done using a variety of combat choices which is up to you. You can equip your mech suit with melee or range weapons, and when accruing more suits this opens up more tactical play options depending on what you equip them with.
Items are purchased using either merchants or blacksmiths or looted from defeated enemies. Purchasing through the blacksmith is some sort of strange slot machine. You have to pay and pull a lever in order to randomly see what items you’ll be able to purchase. For me it’s an odd one and fairly unnecessary, but a bonus if you like gambling though, right?
There are also cards which you can purchase in order to help you in tougher battles which will do things such as repair your health. These are definitely necessary if you overextend and attempt harder battles too early. Based on what I have experienced so far fights can also get fairly repetitive, but there is a variety of map types, and a fairly basic campaign map means that the major strong point of the game is in the battles themselves. It isn’t what the game sets out to do and is perhaps unfair of me to say, but it is hard to compete with the other main stream TBS games out there such as the Total Wars or Civilisations, but Acaratus is what you would expect.
Acaratus is essentially going to be a game that does what it says on the tin. For TBS fans this is a game which may interest you, particularly if you like medieval steampunk worlds. Playing on harder difficulties will certainly keep players entertained due to the challenging nature of the game – if easy is anything to go by they will be bloody tough. Overall though Acaratus is still fun and with access to skirmish and online modes there is a fair amount to do, although in my opinion I think players might have a rather love/hate relationship with the game.
The game is currently still available in early access but officially releases on the 25th of May.