A Dickensian strategy game that is as mechanically deep as it is charming.
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.
Antihero (2017) thrusts you into the Dickensian world of a non-descript city. You are Lightfinger, the master thief, and you must organise your thief’s guild to maneuverer around the tiled city in a thematically excellent, turn based strategy game.
The problem is, you’re not the only thief in town, with your rival, Lygrave, looking to take over your turf. The game essentially runs on a turn-based system, with the route to success laying in infiltrating premises, burgling houses and building up the strength of your gang, to fend off attacks from your rivals.
Antihero is presented from a top-down perspective and beneath the charming, cartoony visuals, this is a deep and complex strategy game. Each move must be preordained and the slightest miscalculation can set you on the path to defeat. The game requires you to strategically place your guild members to block the path of the rival thief, the key being to prevent them from reaching the targets you must take down to gain contract kill points and bribes. All the while, you must prevent your opponent from blocking the map with their own guild members so you can scout out new locations to plunder.
It is rich with features and upgrades to assist you with each turn. Each turn, depending on how many properties you have burgled and infiltrated will award you gold coins and lanterns, which act as the in-game currency, but choosing wisely is imperative. Do you upgrade the strength of your dagger to cause more damage as you shank your foes down darkened alleys, purchase a bribe, or save your currency to recruit more guild members? With few moves, each turn and the rival guild ever advancing forward, it’s essential to get this right.
Its soundtrack is also wonderful, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Sweeny Todd. Thematically it fits the mood of the game. Street urchins speak in cockney-slang, monosyllables and burly thugs grunt to acknowledge your commands. Music and sound effects are often overlooked but these little touches tie the mood of the game together nicely.
Whilst there is fun to be had with the single player campaign, the real joy will come with the multiplayer, which has an “asynchronous” mode, which leaves you free to take your turn whenever you please and your opponent will receive a message when it is their turn, or a live mode, which features turn-timers.
Antihero is available to pre-order through Steam and will release on 13th July 2017, with a mobile release planned.