Antihero – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based strategy, indie, digital boardgame
Developer: Tim Conkling
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Antihero – Review

Site Score
8.9
Good: Really well balanced
Bad: Slightly short campaign
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Publisher Versus Evil, known for games such as The Banner Saga, brings us a new digital turn-based game made by Tim Conkling. Thieves and beggars, assassins and homeless kids, they all find their way into Antihero. Set in a slightly dark Victorian dimension, you are being challenged to become the greatest thief your time has ever known. Not only your wits, but a lot of your strategy and intellect will also be tested..

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Story

The story, in-between some games narrated by a lovely British voice, is mainly about Lightfinger, a masterful thief. You try to make it in a dystopian underworld where everybody is consumed by greed and survival. The clergies are corrupt, the rich want more, and the poor are taken in by thieves like yourself to create a functioning cozy crime family.
You’ll soon figure out that you got some rivals that try to outthink you, but luckily money runs deep in this world. You are able to create a posse in each game by using different profits provided by different building you let your people occupy.

During the campaign mode, the playing field gets slightly adapted for the story, creating some unique challenges for you to overcome. Meaning the rest of the story lingers a lot in the great character design and level creation.

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Graphics

Tim Conkling has a certain style that fits the British Victorian environment quite well. It’s a style that resembles the game Don’t Starve (by Klei Entertainment)  a lot, and also has some influences of director Tim Burton. That being said, the only thing that can be slightly bothering sometimes is the pacing of certain animation that takes just that little bit too long, such as when you use a creepy guy to kidnap your rivals Urchins (kids) from a building he is occupying. He waits in front of the building just that bit too much. It can be a disturbance for your impatient nature.
Other than that there is really no bad thing to be said about the graphics. The animations, in general, look smooth. Even the idle animations of each character in this world are quite active, alive.
The graphics, shading, lights, they are all drawn and done well. A nicely polished game indeed.

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Sound

A rather fitting background track is added to each level. It’s best described as modern classical music that could be seen in a world such as Antihero. It has a Victorian ballroom vibe to it, and something calm that fits turn-based strategy like heard before in i.e. classic games Heroes of might and magic III or Age of Empires II. It can safely be said that it, together with the sound effects, work. There really is nothing to be said about these things that are negative. The sound effects are crisp and clean and seem original.

The real golden goose of the sound, however, would be the voice acting. The stereotype guild members you can buy are accompanied by stereotype voices you would totally expect to come out of the way each character looks. It’s just magnificent, especially for those who enjoy a rather old British atmosphere that we know from movies such as My Fair Lady.

Gameplay

Antihero is a turn-based strategy indie game that would just as well work as a regular board game you would be playing with some friends. Basically, you both (either you and the CPU or you and another player,) start out with your main character of choice. In the campaign this will be either Lightfinger, the main protagonist, or Emma, somebody you will meet slightly after the start.
The game runs on two currencies. You got money which you use to buy new gang members to help you defeat the enemy, and gas lanterns which help you upgrade your abilities. The ultimate goal, in general, is to gain a certain amount of victory points. These you gain by various means such as assassinations, claiming churches or buying bribes.
Each game you start with two moves. You can use moves to explore adjacent tiles which are covered by the fog of war up to an intersection with another street, burgle houses for additional coins or lanterns, explore other special houses such as estates, or attack an enemy providing you bought a dagger.

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Even though the gameplay is limited between its quite easy to understand mechanics, one of the nice things is you can really choose your playstyle that fits the situation or adversary the best, this because the gang members and buildings are given multiple purposes. To try to explain this as easy as possible, if you take over an orphanage by putting an Urchin in there, all other urchins from that point on will cost you one less coin. Costs for additional Urchins increase by one after each purchase but also resets each turn.

Now, you can either use Urchins to occupy an empty building that’s scouted by your master thief or when you upgraded the orphanage by putting three Urchins inside instead of one, they also gain the ability to evict enemy Urchins from buildings.

This gameplay is basically included in all characters and buildings. Each building has a first advantage by using one Urchin to occupy it, and a second advantage at three Urchins. Buildings and gang members are kind of linked to each other by advantages, but the gang members also have their own unique abilities that can be upgraded with gas lanterns in the upgrade menu.

This network of options is damned well balanced and one of the best, cause even when you get busted by your enemy, you still have an option to outplay him if you overthink your options well.

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One of last mentionable and really enjoyable facts is that the story is integrated into the gameplay.
The campaign modes change with certain additions in each level. One level you suddenly have to infiltrate a building to actually gain victory points, the other you need to defeat three different enemies in one game. It makes up for great surprises and enjoyable gameplay.

Conclusion

The total balancing of the gameplay in Antihero and the polished graphics and sounds make this game truly outstanding. A lot of times while playing boardgames one can be agitated by rules that are not well thought of, but in Antihero, such agitations do not exist. It’s a lovely world to delve into, and hopefully the multiplayer will be very active on release cause finishing the campaign itself just leaves you wanting more. Well done Tim Conkling, well done indeed.

 

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Antihero - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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