By Michael Fontanini / June 6th, 2017
Antihero is an indie strategy game where you are essentially a crime kingpin. You are the master thief running the show, but you’re not alone. You see, you’re competing with another master thief for the same territory. Antihero‘s first-access version is limited but still has a few different modes to play. There is the tutorial level, a skirmish mode where you can take on an AI opponent, and an online mode. The game is being developed by Tim Conkling and published by Versus Evil.
You can already tell from the main screen that the game has a great art style. In some ways, it is reminiscent of the art style of the game Don’t Starve. The sound effects are simple but very effective, adding depth to the world. The music is also very good, with a very moody tone that really fits the shady atmosphere of the game.
When you start, all you have is yourself. Your character (the master thief) can burgle buildings to steal some additional gold during the current turn. The first-access version of Antihero currently has nine master thief characters you can play as. They all play the same but look different (and some may have different voice sound effects). The master thief can move as many times as he/she wants per turn, but can only do a set number of actions per turn. Actions include stealing from buildings or attacking other characters once you’ve given the master thief a knife. Pictured below are the various master thief characters.
There are two forms of currency in Antihero: gold and lanterns. Lanterns can be used to unlock new research. For example, one research item gives your master thief an extra move per turn. The next unit you can unlock is either urchins or gangs depending on which you choose. Urchins are boys who can infiltrate certain buildings. The type of building you infiltrate determines the kind of buff you get. For example, you might get a buff to the health of your gangs or simply earn more gold per turn among other things. Putting more urchins in a building generates more gold per turn (but only three can occupy a single building at a time).
Research can be bought using your hard-earned gold and lanterns. The order in which you research things is a big part of the strategy of Antihero. It can literally mean the difference between victory and defeat if luck is not on your side. Research is divided into three categories, and successive items are more pricey to unlock. Some research items simply give you buffs, more gold, the ability for the master thief to attack, and more. Some unlock new units like the urchins, gangs, or thugs. A thug is used to block a street so your foes must kill him to pass, or you can have a thug join one of your gangs to give that gang an extra heart of health.
Gangs level up with each kill and have three stats. Each time one of your gangs kills another character, you can choose what they level up. They can increase the amount of gold they get per kill, how much damage they do per attack, or how many urchins they can evict from an enemy-owned building in one go. Each of these three stats can only be upgraded a max of three times per gang. A gang can attack once per turn. If you don’t wish to do any research on this turn, you can click on one of the charity buttons at the bottom of the research screen to get a few free gold or a few free lanterns.
As you can see in the image above, there are 5 empty diamonds beside both master thieves’ portraits at the top of the screen. Whoever fills all five first wins and becomes the crime master of the town. You can fill one of these slots by earning a victory point in one of a number of ways. You can earn one by completing an assassination, by spending six lanterns to blackmail a city official on the research screen, fully infiltrating a church with three urchins, and by a couple of other means. There is a fog effect on the map, so you can only see areas your master thief has scouted. This also means you can’t see what your foe is up to in unexplored areas. Red footprints on a tile mean your foes have been there.
You can see in the image above that I have two buildings fully infiltrated with three urchins each. The infiltrated Trading House is earning me more lanterns per turn. The infiltrated church earns me gold, and when full with three urchins it also earns me a blackmail victory point. You can see this victory point by my portrait at the top of the screen (the rolled up paper icon). If the enemy removes one or more of my urchins from that church, it will no longer be maxed and you will lose that blackmail victory point. Your master thief must also scout a building before you can infiltrate it with urchins. You will want to fill as many buildings with urchins as you can to earn more and more gold per turn (but each urchin costs a few gold to get). The lower-left-most building is my base. Your master thief retreats there at the end of each turn to wait for the next one.
Antihero is a fun little game with a ton of tactical strategy for you to engage in and a great art style. From start to finish, a single game of Antihero can take a half hour or more to play. The game is set to launch on Steam on July 12th, but you can already preorder it for $11.99 or get the deluxe edition for $15.99 if you want the soundtrack. With about five weeks until the game launches, some aspects are subject to change. The in-game notice that pops up in the first-access version says, for example, that the story-driven campaign is coming in the future. Antihero is a very fun little tactical game about being a master thief and ruling the town!
This preview was made using a first-access copy of Antihero provided to us by the developer/publisher
AntiheroSteamTim ConklingVersus Evil