Games

Review: ACORN Tactics Takes Tactical RPG’s to a New Level

What it is:

A tactical RPG pitting robot mechs against alien blobs from TACS Games.

The game is out December 7th on Switch for $11.99.

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I’m no stranger to voicing my loves in gaming.

One of my first loves, at least on consoles, was Shining Force.  It was a tactical RPG that was very story and character driven, boasting unique recruitable heroes like werewolves, dragons, and bird people.  Players would maneuver their army across a chess board of a battlefield to systematically take out the enemy foes.

Now, Sega’s Shining Force wasn’t the first game of its kind, but it was one of the first, and possibly the largest, of its kind to hit American audiences.  And, at least for me, it was a huge hit!  Naturally, Nintendo had Fire Emblem, but that was primarily a Japanese game until it finally came West on handheld systems.

All of that to say, tactical RPG’s aren’t exactly abundant in America, and especially not on home consoles.  The good ones are even harder to come across (I’ve never been a fan of Disgaea).

This game was a bit surprising to me…because it’s pretty good.  I’m not going to call it great because it lacks a few things that I really look for in a Tactical RPG: an epic story, unique and varied characters, unlockables/secret characters.  But it’s a solid game that will scratch your itch while waiting for the next great one of its kind without breaking your bank.

What the game lacks in unique characters, it makes up for in customization.  Your fighters are mechs, and while there are a few classes to start with and choose from at the beginning, you can change their colors, name them and given them hats (not unlike Skylanders), which really adds something to the game.

I’m not going to lie and say the story is overly engaging, either.  It’s basically just a few lines of dialogue that take you from one battle to the next, and that’s all that it needs to be, but a great game will boast a little more in terms of what’s at stake.  That being said, the dialogue isn’t horrible.  I’ve played quite a few games lately, and sometimes an indy game will boast dialogue that seems to be an afterthought, but such isn’t the case here.

Now, the opening battle is rough, and I nearly gave up on it, as the aliens one-hit kill you if you get too close, but once I finally beat the stage, the narrative instructs you that the armor needed to be upgraded and the aliens were stronger than originally thought.  The next battles are much more on par with what you might expect a game like this to be: more balanced and fair.  I would say that while this is a nice angle to take the story, it could have played better, maybe even stopping the battle to upgrade the armor in the middle of it…retreating, perhaps, to then fight again a little more successfully, so as not to scare off new players.  Like it almost did with me.

All in all, the game is a good way to spend some time, especially as it caters to a niche audience and has very little in terms of direct competition.

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Story:

The world has been flooded and humanity has been relegated to oil platform-style cities and bases.  However, when an alien invasion threatens to take that away from humanity as well, the ACORN (Alien Counter Offensive Response Network) team steps in to save the day with some repurposed weaponry.

Art/Animation:

At this point, with a next gen console, the art is where you’d want it to be.  It’s not a retro-style title with throwback art, nor should it be.  The art doesn’t dazzle, but it is more than adequate.

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Why you should play it:

Let’s face it, if you’ve finished Disgaea are are waiting for Fire Emblem, you have little other options in the tactical RPG realm for the Switch.  Thankfully, this one’s solid enough to spend your time on.

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Let us know what you think of ACORN Tactics in the comments section below!

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