Antihero Review: Thieves Abound In This Fantastic Turn-Based Strategy Game

Antihero Review
Antihero is a new turned-based strategy game set in Charles Dickens' England as players vie to become king of the thieves. Find out why we think Antihero will be one of the best mobile game releases of 2018. ANTIHERO

Desperate times call for desperate measures when you live the world of Antihero , a binge-worthy turn-based strategy game by indie developer Tim Conkling . The game, which has been four years in the making, is Conkling’s debut offering and, frankly, it doesn’t get any better than this. From its beautifully inked illustrations, detailed tutorial and deep strategic gameplay elements, Antihero is a triumph of intentional design that will keep you hooked for days.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures ... Photo: Player.One

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Antihero is set in Victorian-era England, where elites rule a city overrun by corruption, violence and greed. Players take on the character of Lightfoot, a master thief and head of a thieving guild that loots buildings, infiltrates churches and takes up assassination contracts as a means of survival. Lightfoot must stay one step ahead of the law as his gang pilfers and plunders their way through the city while also warding off rival guilds with the same goal. With the story set into action, players are launched into the city where they make choices that lead to either victory or demise.

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Antihero's campaign mode is a story-driven tutorial perfect for mastering all aspects of gameplay. Photo: Player.One

Though Antihero provides a variety of gameplay modes for both single and multiplayer matches, it’s advisable to go through the campaign path first in order to learn the ropes. Antihero offers a complex web of characters to use and actions to take during the course of a turn, which could be overwhelming to new players if introduced at once. The developer, however, has engineered an exceptional tutorial via the campaign path that we found truly impressive. Each step of the campaign plays out like a chapter in this story-driven mode, as it slowly introduces players to new characters, actions and strategic elements along the way.

Antihero’s strategic underpinnings are deep, which makes a concise description difficult, but crudely boiled down, the object of the game is to fill three slots on your victory banner with a combination of mercenary feats before your opponent does. These feats are as follows:

  1. Buy bribes

  2. Fulfill assassination contracts

  3. Infiltrate churches for blackmail

The streets of your city serve as a game board.  Some areas of the city can be clearly seen while others are covered in fog. To reveal what lies beneath the fog, your master thief must scout an area, using up an action. Your master thief is given two actions per turn initially, you can upgrade this later in the game. When scouting, you will either uncover a street square or a building. If you uncover a building, you can loot it for coins, one of two main resources in the game. Some buildings are simple homes that have no available actions other than looting, but buildings with banners can be infiltrated and yield your guild benefits at the beginning of each turn.

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In Antihero players must complete mecenary acts to fill their victory banner ahead of opponents. Photo: Player.One

 

Buildings are color-coded so players know which benefits can be yielded from infiltration. In order to infiltrate a building, you must hire an urchin, which costs coins. Once an urchin infiltrates a location your guild will receive resources like coins, lanterns, reduction in new recruit price etc. You can infiltrate a building with up to three urchins which bring even more benefits to your guild like greater health for gangs and thugs. If the building happens to be a church, you’ll also gain a blackmail victory point for your banner.

The master thief and urchins aren’t the only characters you’ll encounter in the game. As you progress you’ll unlock the ability to purchase upgrades like weapons to attack a rival guild, gangs that earn you gold for kills, or thugs that can block streets and join gangs to make them even stronger. You’ll also run across truant officers that can yank your urchins from infiltrated buildings or unlock the ability to hire saboteurs that set traps for truant officers. Meanwhile, assassins, while costly, can be hired to take down hefty targets in one fell swoop.

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Each chapter of Antihero unlocks new characters and upgrades to purchase. Photo: Player.One

After completing the campaign chapters, which are quite enjoyable in their own right, players then have the option to move into multiplayer battles or AI skirmishes. Multiplayer battles come in two modes - casual and live . Casual battles are asynchronous with a notification alerting you when it’s time for your move. You can be matched with a random player or invite a friend to play. Live games have the same options, but happen in real-time. Meanwhile, skirmishes are a variation on the basic gameplay that alters the goals to fit a specific scenario. For example, in “The Agency” skirmish, players are charged with delivering a certain amount of bribes to a sinister and powerful agency before the opponent does. The game is played against an AI so you can set the difficulty from easy to difficult. There is also an option to customize the rules for starting health, cost of items and other features, making the AI battles even more interesting.

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Antihero offers AI skimishes with alterations to original goals and customizable game rules. Photo: Player.One

As I played Antihero, I was continually impressed by just how perfect it is. It checks every box game designers should be mindful of when creating something for real players. It’s engaging and deep, yet the rules are explained in bite-sized chunks that are accessible to anyone. Though storyline isn’t a central feature of the game, there is just enough of it to draw you in and truly make you feel you are, indeed, a master thief.

Antihero’s artwork is beautiful — thick-lined pen and ink illustrations colored with hues from a matte palette that manage to be both vibrant and bleak at once. There are subtle details of the game design like the wittily crafted street names and varied avatars you can unlock during the campaign that add a polish and sophistication to Antihero. It makes playing Antihero a wholly satisfying experience.

Anithero is a paid offering so there are no ads to impede your gameplay screen or an ongoing in-app purchase paywall. Rather, the developer offers it for a humble $3.99 on the App store, which, in our opinion, is a steal.

Anithero is available now for iOS ( Android release is coming sometime in the near future) in the App store. You can download it, here.

 

REVIEW SUMMARY
Antihero Review: Thieves Abound In This Fantastic Turn-Based Strategy Game
10
Antihero Review: Thieves Abound In This Fantastic Turn-Based Strategy Game
Antihero is a new turned-based strategy game set in Charles Dickens' England as players vie to become king of the thieves. Find out why we think Antihero will be one of the best mobile game releases of 2018.
  • deep strategy
  • thorough tutorial
  • multiple gameplay modes
  • synchronous and asynchronous gameplay options for online multiplayer battles
  • rule customization options
  • no ads or in-app purchase requirements
  • Android version unavailable (iOS and PC only)
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