The Nazis were bad, I think that’s an opinion we can all agree on. And as one of the easiest ‘bad guys’ to put into a game it means we’ve had decades of killing Hitler’s buddies over and over again. So with the depressing thought that killing Nazis is getting old how can you make them even more evil and make the player feel like they’re doing good again taking out the SS rather than just going through the motions? Why make the Nazis dick about with the Lovecraftian style occult of course!
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics sees you take on the role of 4 allied soldiers from across the world to use their special abilities to take out Hitler’s recent occult activities. Through turn based strategic combat you must balance your action point usage to wipe out the axis forces. It’s easy to see the table top influences of its original form seep into the world of Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, everything plays out like a slow methodical game with your friends, unfortunately a lot of that slowness comes from trying to understand the rules. Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics was previously released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC and throughout my time playing the game I wished I was on the PC version as quite simply the controls for a game like this have not transferred well to the Nintendo Switch. The UI in theory is absolutely fine, but when working out whether a right arrow indicates D-Pad or Stick, or just clicking the correct shoulder button to scroll along a list or amongst your party it quickly becomes a lesson in frustration.
I actually have a fondness for any game that uses Action Points, the concept of movement and attacks being a resource makes for a much more puzzle like affair. There were numerous battles during my time with Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics that I was forced to make some pretty tough but enjoyable decisions about whether moving or attacking was a more valuable use of my AP. Unfortunately self styled tactics are really as deep as Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics really goes, the combat in most scenarios is pretty standard with few surprises and the whole experience feels a bit ‘light’. There is a nice touch with the concept of the Fog of War, enemies can’t be accurately targeted until they’ve emerged onto the battlefield, and until they have they’re shadowy creatures, giving you a hint at their actions but nothing more.
The story within Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics feels like it’s just a wrapper for the game, something that’s only there to give you the characters and a motivation to kill but nothing more. There are in game story beats that are just completely ignored; the very first mission is two of the characters being asked to rendezvous with the rest of the party, this is the characters first interactions with each other in this world, and there’s no dialogue, you literally walk up to them and then they’re in the party. The only story is drip fed by a suitably 1940’s BBC voiced commander at the mission briefing stage. This is pretty much how the whole game proceeds for the 10 or so hours you’ll get from a run.
After combat you’re awarded XP and can level up your characters with new abilities or stats, and occasionally some new gear or weapon mods. Your french occult expert for example can use her literal inner demon to buff or debuff or alternatively just suck the life out of enemies. Much like nucelear bombs it seems like in WW2 it’s ok if the allies use the powers but not the Nazis.
The presentation is one of the strongest elements of Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, the fog of war mentioned above adds an interesting feature to the map and the different levels all have some nice ‘arena’ areas for you to take out the Nazis in. Some more variation would have been nice, especially in the early game to keep interest high but the game does enough to keep you going and not feel like you’re playing the same level over and over. The music is exactly what you imagine it to be, a rousing military orchestral piece heavy on the violins and brass much like anything you’d have heard in Saving Private Ryan or the early Medal of Honour games.
All in all Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is not a bad game by any stretch, it works and when a plan comes together on the battlefield it fires off those endorphines that we all seek. The issue is that it all just feels like it’s ‘enough’, no one area is particularly strong, nothing leaps out at you as being groundbreaking or a particularly unique selling point, it just seems be enough to not be bad. For the Switch there aren’t a huge number of these turn based tactics games so for a bit of fun on the go this is definitely worth a pick up for established fans of the genre, for everyone else, the PC version would be the way to go for sake of ease with controls. When all is said and done however, I guess we should just be happy to have another way to give it to those damn Nazis, and their alien/demon/mutants.