What do the Nazis and Cthulhu have in common? Absolutely nothing.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics combines Cthulhu and Nazis together in the strangest way possible, by turning them into Eldritch cultists that are trained in combat. Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics from developer Auroch Digital has players taking control of a group of soldiers that are faced with defeating the Nazi regime of terror. The war rages across Europe, and as you continue further into the game you’ll realise that there’s much more to these Nazis then just guns and strategy.
The game mechanics play a lot like familiar turn-based strategy games like X-COM, with a few things changed here or there. As you move into an area some enemies will be either be shown, foggy, or hidden. You can attack shown enemies right away; foggy enemies are visible but you are unable to attack them; and hidden enemies you cannot see on the map, but will show up as you progress through combat. Players move using AP (action points) as well as having momentum specific to each character. Momentum allows you to use side firearms, extend your vision to look for more enemies, charge an attack and more.
Like all turn-based strategy games, when your team has gone through and completed all of their movements, spending however much AP and momentum you want, the enemies are given a turn and will attack. At the end of your turn, you want to try and have as many characters as you can behind cover; it will be much more difficult for enemy shots to hit your characters if you’ve managed to get in cover. If your characters do end up getting hit, you’ll be able to heal them, provided you’ve picked up enough health items. At the end of the enemy turn, the round starts over; all of your points are refreshed and you go again until all enemies are dead or you are defeated.
At the end of each level, you’re able to level up your characters using points earned during the round. Some characters may get increased health or more action points to use, while others will earn specific abilities or upgrades to weapon abilities. The end of round screen is also where you can upgrade weapons or equip different items, like grenades or health kits. Being able to upgrade your characters allows you to choose what specific characters will focus on. For instance, if the sergeant has good melee skills, you’ll want to put him near the front to pick off any enemies that ranged attacks might not have fully taken down. You may also want to keep your character that is good with healing or has low health towards the back. There are numerous ways to customise your setup, making the game unique for each player.
However, one of my biggest problems with Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is how slow-moving everything is. As you move further in the levels, you get used to how the mechanics play out, but it can get pretty repetitive. Having your characters do the same actions every single round gets old pretty quickly. The pace of combat can drag on a bit the more your party grows and the longer the level goes on. Especially when enemies out in the open somehow manage to dodge three or four attacks in a row. The upgrades for your characters are also slow to advance, so the best abilities don’t show up until a good few hours into the game.
Possibly the most disappointing thing about Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, though, is its bland environments. When you have the name “Cthulhu” in the title you’re surely expecting a science fiction vibe and some creepy Lovecraftian horror. Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics gets there eventually, but the first few levels are a rocky, grassy terrain that looks the same every time you visit it. After a few hours, however, you’ll venture into a world that does feel like something H.P Lovecraft would be proud of. It feels as though Auroch Digital was trying to play it safe and focused more on the tactical gameplay rather than building a unique world within the realm of Acthung! Cthulhu, the role playing game that it is based on.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is a perfectly fine game. For fans of the turn-based strategy genre, it’s worth adding to your library for its 10+ hours of gameplay. If you’re in it for the story or the Cthulhu universe on the other hand, you’re more likely to be disappointed. The game is slow moving, bland at times, and a bit forgettable. It’s unfortunate that its best moments are towards the end of the game because most players won’t make it that far.