Acaratus Preview (PC)
Did you say medieval steam punk? Are those mechs? This is how you get a certain Mr Stu to review your game. Does this Early Access Turn Based Strategy game have what it takes to fight with the big boys or will it have to wait?
Acaratus takes place in a world ravaged by the valerian wars. A major turning point in history where a warlord armed with mechs claims victory and lays down the law. What does all this mean for protagonist Bolt? Slavery. But slavery had been outlawed. That doesn’t mean it stopped though. The game starts off with Bolt saving his master from an attacking force through the use of her contraband mech (yeah they also got outlawed – the guy was smart!).The reason for the attack? The mech she had stowed away. Who had sold her out? Bolt… Yeah it is that kind of story. Bolt is betrayed by the people he betrayed his master to. Full circle betrayal? Check.
Acaratus doesn’t offer much in the way of actual gameplay. It has set up a great world to play in but finds itself falling short of a decent Turn Based Strategy game. This is mainly due to how basic the combat is. If the main component of your game is too simplistic then it will be detrimental to the rest of your game.
I’ll give an example so it doesn’t seem like I am hating on it for no reason. The first time you face off against multiple opponents (a true test to see if you have a handle on the game) you are set upon by two mechs. This is where craftiness is your only ally as it is too early in the game for you to have multiple mechs of your own. So you take cover behind what is available. As I did this to draw out my enemies, only one advanced. The other stayed back for what I can only assume was to record the fight on their phone and shout “worldstar!” Of course I am jesting here, but the sentiment remains of what was going on behind the scenes for this to be the optimum strategy. As I took down the first, after watching it fail to attack me through the obstacle I was hiding behind for a few moves, I advanced on the second. As it dawned upon the second mech what was about to happen it took a change of heart and decided to run around the arena like a headless chicken.
To say the combat is all as bad as this would be a lie. But it seems a running theme of Acaratus for it to be pretty easy going. One interesting point for the combat is cards. These are powerups you can use in combat (my personal favourite being dash mainly due to the animation it does). These can vary from dash – which allows you to charge through enemies whilst dealing damage – to guarding – which lets you guard. These cards are the only mix factor for Acaratus. The part that can clutch victory from the maw of certain doom.
The interface isn’t too friendly either. There are button assignments for moving between your equipment screen and the map. The customisation of the mechs was hugely appealing to me, and the models for the mechs seem different enough from each other and interesting, I will definitely be keeping an eye on this game thanks to its intriguing lore and mech customisation. However, if the combat doesn’t improve then I will likely leave Acaratus. Another annoyance is the fog of war on the map. Not the fog itself, but how you have to guess were to travel to next. As you get to a certain point in the map the next point may be in the shadows, which means you have to slowly trawl the map with your mouse until it eventually hovers over a next available point of travel.
Another annoyance I have found with Acaratus is loading a saved game. After attempting the game many times I had eventually had a pretty good run through so I saved it. But upon returning to the game and trying to load it up nothing happened.
Acaratus is pretty bare bones compared to other Turn Based Strategy games. It leaves you wanting more, which is exactly what Early Access intends for the gamer. Although, you are left wanting for the wrong reasons. You are left hoping Acaratus improves itself so that it is playable as you are interested in the world it takes part in. With a few tweaks to the combat and a working world map, this would be a solid game. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Acaratus though as I am interested in the lore and want to see how it comes to fruition. I cannot recommend Acaratus in its current Early Access state, but it is definitely one to look out for upon release.