When I saw the trailer for ACORN Tactics, I didn’t know what to expect. Was it a tower defense game? Was it an old school SRPG? Having played it, I can tell you it’s a bit of both, with the virtues and the downfalls that the statement implies. Join me in digging deeper into TACS Games’ Nintendo Switch debut.
You are a newly-minted commander who is in charge of defending your post-apocalyptic slice of heaven (debatable) from falling into the hands of evil aliens who’ll obviously do nothing good to it. For this very purpose, you’re put in charge of mechs who will, under your guidance, go through the 25-mission storymode and defend planet Earth. While it sounds very exotic, the gameplay underpinnings of ACORN Tactics are that of an SRPG: You have ranged combatants and close-quarter units, you have environmental hazards (though I wish there were more of these) and you must place your troops and attack in a turn-based manner through the playing field (little islands that mimic dungeon or stages in traditional SRPGs).
While it may sound like I’m having a downer on ACORN Tactics, it is not so. I actually love SRPGs, and I found the gameplay behind this little gem to be quite solid. I enjoyed customizing my units (which, by the way, made them easier to spot during combat), I loved the upgrade paths and its effects (down to the cosmetic levels). In terms of playing the game and what it feels like, this is a tidy, tight little package.
Sadly, it does fall apart a little bit in terms of presentation, though. While the mechs look awesome, the environments don’t look all that great (with “drab” being the closest I can get, if a bit too mean for what I meant) and the music and voice effects, as well as sound effects, have definite room for improvement.
Another missed opportunity is the story, which seems more like an afterthought than the core upon which the game is built. This is, without a doubt, a game based on its gameplay, and while I understand that it’s a budget title, I believe the devs could have done a bit better than the tongue-in-cheek, Mars-Attack thing the game has going on.
Don’t be scared off by this, however. ACORN Tactics is still a solid, perfectly serviceable strategy game that scratches the FF Tactics/Gundam remix itch in just the right way. Sure, there are rough spots here and there, but taking the game for what it is (and not what I think it should be), will deliver a fun-filled, 25-levels-long adventure that’s sure to puzzle you and entertain you.