Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics

Stories of Adolf Hitler’s obsession with the occult seem to be a focus of not only shows on the History Channel, but a favorite spin of numerous films throughout the years. One of the first movies I recall that focused on the Nazi’s trying to utilize powerful artifacts to further their cause was Raiders of the Lost Ark. An even more recent example is Paramount Pictures film Overlord, which provided its own spin on Nazi’s utilizing unconventional means to create super soldiers to gain a foothold in the war. Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics shows us once again that the Nazis will go to great lengths to win the war, this time with a Lovecraftian twist.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a turn-based, tactical combat game based on the popular tabletop RPG Achtung! Cthulhu. Developed initially as part of a Kickstarter campaign by Auroch Digital and Ripstone Games, it saw its first release on PC in 2018. It has since found its way to consoles, specifically Xbox One, PS4 and the version I had the opportunity to review on the Nintendo Switch. The setting for the game is fairly straight forward, you lead your elite four-person squad deep into enemy territory, fighting your way through Nazi forces and Cthulhu horrors released by the mysterious Cult of the Black Sun.

Like similar turn-based tactical combat games (along the lines of XCOM) Tactics is played out in rounds, where each team takes turns both moving and attacking. Unlike similar tactical combat games where each individual character rolls initiative to determine when it moves in the round, each team moves/attacks each of its units before the other team takes its turn. This means you must carefully plan ahead, anticipating where you think each of the enemy units may end up after your turn is finished, but also allows you to focus your attacks on single units to eliminate them before they have the opportunity to strike. Which means that the game plays out more like RISK and less like Chess.

Each unit/character has a specific number of action points that they can utilize to move or attack. Every action consumes an action point and your actions can be split between moving, attacking or both. Movement consists of both selecting a location on the map (the number of squares identify the number of action points it takes to get there) as well as the facing direction of your unit once the movement is complete. Enemies are obscured by a ‘Fog of War’ which disguises the enemy until they are visible in your unit’s line of sight. As each new unit type is discovered its name and short description is displayed which helps you prioritize your attacks or exploit its weakness. Various rocks, trees and walls are scattered around the map which provide cover. Thoughtful use of cover can impact an enemy’s ability to hit you and is represented by a shield on the map. Once your “Friendly” units have completed their actions, the “Enemy” units take their turn, and the battle continues until either side’s units have been destroyed.

You control the same four units throughout the campaign, enabling you to level them up as the game progresses. Unlike similar games, the units must survive, so if one is killed in battle, you replay the level until you can complete it successfully without taking a loss. Difficulty ramps up as you progress further in the game and there are a total of ten main missions with additional side missions to attempt. As you complete the various missions you will unlock new skills, abilities and weapons.

Graphically the game looks great on the Switch. The characters are crisp and well detailed and the voice acting (while slightly repetitive) does add additional flare to the game. The game is single player only which makes it great for long flights or when you are simply looking for something to pass the time. The sound track is passable as a WWII game, it’s good, but not great and not particularly memorable, but it does the job.

If you’re a fan of tactical combat games and particularly looking for one to take on the road with your Nintendo Switch then this game will certainly scratch that itch. If you are a fan of Cthulhu type stories or WWII in general, then the plot (although not terribly deep) is interesting enough to keep you playing through to the end. Who knows what other horrors lurk within the “Forest of Fear” and do you have the metal to fight your way through to the very end?

What I liked: Easy Controls, Interesting Concept, Looks Great on the Switch

What I liked less: Repetitive voice acting, Lacks the depth of other similar games.

3.5 out of 5 stars