There are few things I find as disappointing as bad turn-based tactics games. Part of that comes down to my love of the genre, though poorly designed turn-based games have a tendency to be uniquely excruciating in a way that few action-oriented games can. Where even most poor turn-based games have brief flashes of potential, however, Antisquad is absolutely unbearable from beginning to end. Believe it or not, this is made even worse by a tutorial that makes the game appear to have promise, raising your hopes only to quickly dash them in the most brutal, incomprehensible way imaginable.
Everyone involved in this game should be shot
Antisquad has no redeeming qualities. The characters, though existing as fixed personalities, all speak with the exact same tone. The story is less a cohesive series of events than a number of completely random missions that have no real purpose behind them. The upgrade system is a joke. The music is migraine-inducing. The controls are clearly designed with the iPad in mind and don’t work properly. The dialogue sounds like a bunch of Russians trying to stuff as many pop culture references in as possible for comedic effect (that fails), not realizing that it instead makes conversations insufferable to have to click through.
I’ve had more entertaining root canals
I’ll go into depth below and explore all of the different horrible aspects of this non-game, but first I want to drive this one point home: if you’re thinking of trying Antisquad, reconsider. You could pay less than a quarter for this game and still be ripped off; there’s literally nothing that could be added to this game to make it any better, nor is there anything that could be done to it to make it any worse. It’s a uniquely horrible Frankenstein’s monster of poor design that’s beyond saving, best destroyed and forgotten by its creators for the sake of posterity.
First, the dialogue is worthless
The tutorial is outwardly misleading. The characters in said tutorial string together words in a coherent manner so as to convey meaning, but this is only raising your hopes unfairly. Once the tutorial missions are over, you’re dropped into a world devoid of meaning, where characters shout out random jumbles of words that make no sense and respond to each other as though anything anyone is saying makes perfect sense. From the end of the tutorial to the end of the game, you’re forced to read overlong text-only exchanges (there is no voice acting whatsoever) that sound more and more like the product of a Russian-to-English Google Translation penned by a single writer. This means that not only is there no investment in the story or characters, but it’s virtually impossible to tell what’s happening at any point in the game.
The story, then, doesn’t exist
It looks as if there a story early on, but you quickly realize that characters pop in and out randomly without explanation, and your playable characters venture around to random locations as though they’re choosing their destination by throwing darts at a map. There’s no reason behind anything anyone does, nor is there any grand plan that a devilishly clever villain is cooking up behind the scenes. You’re just playing as a bunch of losers running around shooting at other losers, none of the parties involved possessing the requisite language skills to build up any kind of tension or player involvement. By the time the last chapter ends, you’re bound to have more questions than answers, most of said questions consisting of the “what the hell did I just waste my time and money on” variety.
This game is about grinding chapters
Antisquad gives you a handful of fixed characters, each with their own unique skills. In order to stand a chance against enemies later in the game, you have to upgrade your stats and equipment with money you gain from finishing chapters.
There’d be absolutely nothing wrong with this if it was handled correctly, but the developers were clearly far too incompetent to even get this much right; while each chapter gives you some money, it’s never enough, and the game knows it, too, reminding you that you can play through previously-completed chapters repeatedly to make more money. The game, then, is almost entirely about grinding chapters for money to upgrade your characters with. This isn’t something most people can realistically opt out of, either, because the game has some fairly ridiculous difficulty spikes. One chapter may be a cakewalk, but the next will inevitably introduce a boss character who can one-shot your characters (which is something that you’re never informed about). The whole thing seems centered around grinding for money to upgrade your characters with, and this makes Antisquad feel like a mobile game that had its microtransactions swapped out as lazily as possible.
And that’s exactly what happened. The iOS version of Antisquad indeed has microtransactions which were removed in the PC version, with no one seeming to bother with rebalancing the game to change its grindy, pay-to-win tempo that’s designed to frustrate players into resorting to microtransactions. As a result, actually playing through the PC version of the game means playing through the same few chapters over and over and over again for the money. If you don’t, then some of the later difficulty spikes will simply be too much for you to handle.
Don’t forget Facebook
Hey, want to share your progress on Facebook? How about now? Or now? Don’t want to? But you’ll get in-game rewards for spamming your friends! Facebook Facebook Facebook! Facebook! Share your achievements! Facebook!
Apparently no one told the developers of Antisquad that trying to shove Facebook down the player’s throat isn’t very polite, because this game is infested with it. Unlocked a new achievement (which is inside the game’s code and can’t be disabled by disabling the Steam overlay)? Expect the big blue “SHARE” button. Finished a level? Expect the big blue button. At the main menu? Expect a giant F staring you in the face. This kind of thing is barely acceptable in Farmville, so having it suffocate a paid game is disgraceful.
Action point system
How does the game’s combat work, you ask? Each character has their own class and special attack, as well as an “action point” pool that both movement and attacks expend. You have your sniper, your minigun dude, your explosives expert—you can choose three people out of a handful of characters to bring with you on missions, but they’re not balanced at all. Scouts have so many action points and such a low cost for shooting that they can take out huge groups of enemies in a single turn, whereas a sniper only gets one or two shots per turn. That difference is huge when you factor in armor, which absorbs an entire attack worth of damage. That means that snipers quickly stop being useful, especially since your first scout has a special ability that completely destroys enemy armor.
It’s an interesting system, of course, but it never works well enough. There’s no balance, nor is there any semblance of solid pacing; each mission goes hilariously slowly, with plenty of mis-clicks ensuring that you’ll always be on the edge of accidentally doing something that will spell doom for your entire team.
So much failure
First, a note about action points: you can never tell how many your enemies have. Instead, they’re represented as a vague blue bar, identical for all enemies. This means that while an enemy sniper can run a few feet and then be done for the turn, enemy scouts can run across the map, shoot at you three times (taking out a huge amount of your health or killing you outright), then run back. There’s no obvious way of telling whether an enemy will have a ton of action points to use against you or just a few, and that means means that many maps come down to luck and repetition, which is just poor design.
Then you have the mis-clicks. Though this game seems to have originated on iOS, you’d think something as simple as clicking would at least be done right. You’d be wrong, though. Even moving is fraught with difficulties, as I discovered when I tried to click to move my character to a new position, only to have the camera jump and set my destination point in the wrong spot. This isn’t a one-time occurrence, either. This camera shifting happened to me every single time I moved anyone, often resulting in me accidentally selecting another character or moving to the wrong spot, wasting valuable action points in the process.
For one, your special skills have to recharge for a certain number of turns between uses. However, enemies don’t do anything until they see you, so you can just sit around and end your turn over and over until they recharge. Weirdly, bringing a wounded character back from the brink of death also has to recharge, but you’re never, ever told about this, which is incredibly frustrating the first time you have to sit around and watch a character die because the tutorial didn’t teach you everything you need to know. Then you have the crates that you sometimes obtain during missions. Some of these can be opened for free, but others require spending huge sums of money to open. How does that make any sense whatsoever? Once you’ve actually opened a crate, the actual item/money you get from it is semi-randomized in a little minigame where the cursor bounces between several items. You have to stop the cursor and hope that it lands on something you actually want, which is such an incredibly stupid mechanic for a game in a genre that’s supposed to be about planning rather than luck.
Also, the game doesn’t have an ending. Nothing is ever explained or resolved adequately (nor is anything ever built up to need resolution). Instead, you’re treated to even more of the game’s atrocious, nonsensical dialogue before realizing that you’ve simply run out of content to play.
The graphics are cartoony
One of the only things that I can’t really say anything too negative about are the graphics. They’re nothing special, mind you, but their cartoon-inspired style is the least negative element of the entire game. Sure, many enemies repeat and there are several ugly low-res pictures that you’ll sometimes see at the end of missions, but the graphics aren’t actively detrimental to the game. That’s more than can be said of every other element in Antisquad.
From the very beginning of the game, it’s obvious that you’re in for an incredibly painful soundtrack. The music is produced well enough, sure, but the style of the music is bombastic and almost Bond-esque at times, which doesn’t suit the style of the game at all. Worse, the whole thing comes across as obnoxious more often than not, to the point where I literally ended up with a migraine every time I played the game for more than half an hour.
Here’s what you should do: