Antihero is a strategy title with a board game like feel that challenges players to compete within different Thieves Guilds during the Victorian era for control of a murky city. It’s an incredibly unique concept, but one that makes for a thoroughly entertaining tactical gaming experience; it’d be easy to dismiss it as an over-complicated title that’ll take you ages to get to grips with at first glance, but it’s actually pretty accessible and will hook you in from the get go.
Everything in Antihero boils down to small objectives that you have to complete, with each objective awarding you with a victory point. Attain three victory points and success is yours, cementing your place as one of the top dogs of the Thieves Guilds. Actually earning these victory points requires a fair amount of well-orchestrated thievery though, but thankfully the game is full of incredibly useful units that’ll help you achieve your goals. Your main unit is the Master Thief – essentially the brains behind each operation. Everything you do in the game is based around the scouting that your Master Thief performs, with everything dictated upon the areas and buildings that they’ve explored. Of course, your Master Thief doesn’t get their hands dirty, but that’s where the Urchins, Gangs, Thugs, and Assassins come into play. Need a target taken out? Call on an Assassin. Need to burgle a building? Get your Urchins onto it. Want to protect a valuable asset? Get your tough Thugs in to fight off your foes.
These units won’t work for free though, so you’ll have to ensure you’re rich in two of the games valuable commodities: gold and, oddly, lanterns. This means you’ve got to achieve a nice balance in the game of completing objectives as well as ensuring your supplies are kept topped up to keep your team happy. You won’t be able to stake your claim on the city with an unhappy guild, and the only way to keep your anarchic band of helpers satisfied is with valuables.
It’s a fairly unique concept, but one that made for a lot of fun. Typically, thievery in gaming is more action-orientated and sees you getting hands-on with each job, but the strategic approach offered by Antihero is very addictive. It’s also got the satisfaction that comes with playing a board game too, in turn offering something for those that aren’t typically gamers to get into as well.
Whilst the whole concept of Antihero might seem a little complicated with its strategy approach, it’s actually incredibly accessible and easy enough to get into almost immediately. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t recommend jumping into a game without going through the tutorial-like campaign first, but it’s won’t be long before you’re well versed with the intricacies of Antihero’s gameplay. Even I, someone who easily falls at the first hurdle of trying to get into a strategy game, got into it with ease, so anyone with half a brain will have no fuss getting into it.
Despite it being a thoroughly enjoyable game in single player, Antihero is at its very best when played in multiplayer. There are both local and online multiplayer modes on offer, though I found online a mixed bag; when playing an organised game with a friend it was a lot of fun, but I actually struggled to get into many active games during its early launch period. However, there is an online option where you play with others over a prolonged time. You receive a notification every time a player takes their turn, giving you a multiplayer game that can last days, weeks, or even months. When you do get into a normal multiplayer match though its tense, strategic, and a heck of a lot of fun. The conniving aspects of the game work well in the multiplayer playing field – it’s just so satisfying to know you’re pulling off all your dirty tricks on other real-life players.
Whilst the core of Antihero’s enjoyability is found within its gameplay, it’s also a very pretty game to look at. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t feature a state of the art stunning aesthetic, but its simplistic yet charming art style perfectly reflects a Victorian city full of crookery. It’s got a very Dickensian feel to it, giving gamers a locale to play across that isn’t too familiar in the gaming landscape.
It’s difficult to fully put into words what exactly Antihero offers; it’s one of those titles that really needs to be played in order to appreciate the intricacies of its gameplay. However, it’s easy to say just how accessible, charming, and fun the game is – it offers something that’ll appeal to both strategy veterans and those who’ve never dipped into the genre.
Developer: Tim Conkling
Publisher: Versus Evil
Release Date: 10/07/2017
Format(s): PC, Mac