I’ve never associated cute animals with chaotic rioting and destruction, but Anarcute has opened my eyes to these disorderly little critters. It might sound like a crazy premise, but it’s something that’s equally as charming as it is insane – especially when you’re the one sending these little cuties on a destructive rampage.
Anarcute puts you in charge of a group of small animals as they riot against the Brainwash Patrol, a group of mysterious gas-mask wearing villains that have taken over some of the capital cities of the world. That’s what I made of it anyway – the game is a little sparse on story details, instead throwing you straight into the action. There are animated cutscenes that fill you in a little as to what’s going on, but they don’t feature a whole lot of detail to the back story. It’s not really an issue though; I don’t need context for adorable anarchy.
Controlling your little rioters is easy enough with the left stick used for movement and the right stick for camera control. Your health is determined by the riot meter which grows more and more as you find rioters to join your crew. If your riot meter runs out it’s game over.
Actions are simple too, with rioters automatically picking up items in the environment as you run over them (which can be thrown by pressing the shoulder button) and attacks simply requiring the mashing of a button. I say simply, but the process isn’t always that easy – sometimes my rioter’s attacks wouldn’t be as effective for no particular reason. It doesn’t affect the gameplay too much, but it was noticeable at times.
There are a good variety of Brainwash Patrol minions to take down, with the likes of standard soldiers, snipers and brutes all out to cut your riot short. The enemies feel varied and you’ll have to utilise different tactics to take each of them out, adding a sense of complexity to the combat. You can’t just run in and attack or you’ll meet a quick demise – you’ll need to think each of your actions through before launching an assault. There are boss encounters that provide a sterner test for the rioters too, though most of them are easily taken out by learning their attack patterns.
Perhaps more deadly than the enemies are the hazards littered around each level, with plenty of mines and lasers making life incredibly difficult for the rioters. Whilst they don’t deal too much damage, they’re increasingly more difficult to evade as your team gets bigger and bigger – the group gets so large you lose precise control over them, sending them on erratic movements across everything in your path.
You’ll learn new abilities as you progress through the game including the super destructive charge that allows you to smash 10,000 ton objects away from your path and also the ability to actually destroy buildings. Tearing down buildings is particularly useful, especially since you’re able to make buildings fall onto groups of enemies – it doesn’t just clear a path for you, but wipes out your deadly foes at the same time. They may be cute, but these rioters certainly mean business.
Abilities aren’t openly available though and will only be accessible as you grow your riot meter. The mechanic certainly rewards you for looking after your rioters and gives you an incentive to actually be more careful, especially since the best abilities unlock with a full riot meter.
There’s also a frenzy bar that’ll fill up as you unleash consecutive hits on your enemies. When it maxes out you can unleash either a more powerful stomp attack that’ll deal a good amount of damage across a wider area of effect, or alternatively you can utilise a more powerful dash to quickly shift your rioters away from danger. They’re neat little moves and can certainly be a game changer in a few of the trickier situations you’ll find yourself in.
You’ll also unlock new rioters as you progress including the likes of foxes, jellyfish, raccoons, frogs, giraffes, pugs – heck, even fish get in on the action. Some of the animals are unlocked by freeing them from their cages throughout each level, but some of them will be unlocked if you complete levels with the highest possible ranking. The animals don’t offer anything different from a gameplay perspective, but it’s pretty sweet to have a bigger variety of cute critters in your crew.
When you finish missions in the game you’ll get ranked based upon time taken, crowd size and enemies defeated. You’ll unlock bonuses for achieving an S rank for every level in the game, offering an incentive to replay through Anarcute’s levels to get all those high scores. The game is only around five hours long, so the extra challenge will prolong the experience.
There are plenty of levels in the game, each set across four different cities with your adventures spanning across Tokyo, Paris, Miami and Reykjavik. Each different city offers a distinct look to keep levels feeling varied – the developers have done a great job of re-creating the essence of the cities they represent too.
Anarcute is certainly fun to play, though some levels can start to feel repetitive at times. The game does try to keep things varied with different mission types, though by the back end of the game it’ll feel like you are doing the same thing time and time again. The game isn’t too long though, so you won’t get bored of it before completing it at least.
Aesthetically, Anarcute is an absolute delight. It’s quirky and cute, with environments full to the brim with colour and personality. The little rioters themselves bring the world to life with their adorable looks, whilst the Brainwash Patrol look sweet too… in a twisted little way. I loved the visual style of Anarcute and whilst it isn’t the most attractive game you’ll ever play it, it’s certainly one of the most charming. The soundtrack is amazing too, with gleeful tunes that have an almost childish feel to them – in a good way, of course. It’s a treat on the ears and certainly adds to the cute vibe of the game.
Anarcute will have you smiling from the moment you start playing thanks to its ultra charming aesthetics, its cute soundtrack, and its destructive gameplay mechanics. Sure, gameplay can feel a little repetitive, but it’ll never really deter from your fun with the game.
There are certainly better strategy titles out there and the AI of your rioters will frustrate you at times, but Anarcute’s cute and accessible gameplay offers an enjoyable experience that’s worth checking out. Viva la revolucion.
Release Date: 12/07/2016
Format(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PC