Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
TASTEE: Lethal Tactics is a twist on traditional turn-based strategy titles. Focusing more on the off-the-cuff humor, a Team Fortress 2 art direction, and occasionally brutal missions, you will recruit a team of ne’er-do-gooder mercenaries, then plan out and execute tense, dramatic, and oft-times hilariously frustrating gunfights. Sling your six-shooters, and rack a round into your shotty, TASTEE: Lethal Tactics will take you for a non-traditional spin through the beloved turn-based strategy genre.
Where to start … Honestly I do not know. TASTEE: Lethal Tactics is currently in available on Steam and in a pleasant twist, content is routinely being added. Many developers seem to release to world then … disappear, so it is nice to see SkyBox Labs maintaining their baby. Once you have picked it up, give it a spin, frankly you will love it. Rather than the incredibly detailed and regularly confusing interfaces found in some turn-based strategy games, TASTEE eschews more traditional methods for a simply rotary dial menu that appears when you select characters/plot movement and action points. Which I found was a little different too; perhaps because I am so used to playing XCOM, but at the start of each turn you plot out all actions, movement, shooting, guarding, direction you are facing, etc. then hit the Go button and your actions are then carried out. Much like a more traditional 4X game rather than a room-to-room strategy title. A welcome twist (though, it is my understanding that it is not a new twist, but hey, why mess with a good thing?).
So I was a bit frustrated at first with TASTEE, I thought it felt shallow, like all I was doing was plotting points and hitting the Play button. I felt bored and under-used. Until I was three missions in or so on the single player content where I got smashed to bits. The first few levels are a bit of a warm-up then the game starts to smack you around a bit. At times, daring is required, but often punished, and patience is key. Move too fast and you will get owned by a sniper, too slow and a grenade will disappear your toons and it is game over for you. Fortunately there is a bit of a preview that you can play out on your turns and behind its imposing demeanor, gruff characters, and generally challenging play is an incredibly easy game to pick up and play while you are on lunch at work. Missions are quick and satisfying and give just enough of a challenge that you feel like you accomplished something when they are done. The last game that I could do that with was probably Space Run, a tweak on the typical Tower Defense model.
TASTEE’s graphical aesthetic should resonate well with fans of Team Fortress 2 as the various models could have been pulled right from the vaunted title. This is not a bad thing; it ends an air of false security and its humor tends to belie the more challenging tactical gunplay that can take complacent gamers unawares. I was a bit surprised while playing TASTEE that I was being constantly assaulted with pangs of yesteryear, as the isometric view brought out an old lust of mine … traditional cRPGs (so I naturally installed nearly 60GB of pre-2010 cRPG games). The nostalgia factor then kicked in a comparison to XCOM, which takes itself very seriously, up against a turn-based pioneer like TASTEE and, while very different, I had the same feel while playing them. Challenging, interesting, and overall, simply fun.
The downside? The campaign, while infinitely replayable, could have used a little more work, but really? It does not matter, since any semblance of a story would be secondary to the actual gameplay in this strange turn-based action strategy hybrid.
If anything, TASTEE: Lethal Tactics is beyond excellent; sure work could be done to add more models, characters, skins, weapons and assets, but what is there is excellent. Fast, for a turn-based title, challenging gameplay yet simple execution, something very rare in a strategy title. TASTEE: Lethal Tactics keeps its light-hearted antics first and foremost, backed by solid gameplay, which puts it into the rare pile of “pick up and play any time you want” strategy titles. It is a certain keeper.Score: 8.75/10