Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
“If what is currently available is any indication of the final product, Antihero is going to be good.” I’m happy to say that this statement from my preview stands. Having just released, Antihero simultaneously places you in the role of being a Master Thief and the leader of a guild as they take to the streets in order to both make it theirs and remove any competition that dares to get in the way.
One of the most notable changes from the Preview state is that the Tutorial has become the Campaign adding in some context instead of just teaching you how to play the game. Gone is the massive list of options (which at the time was only two of ten) and instead there’s a view of the city with a fog of war that covers the areas yet to be fought in. While teaching us how to use the systems is fun, and believe me needed, the story is a nice touch especially since the artstyle is so pretty to look at.
Upon final release Antihero has kept to the 1v1 aspect and I think upped the AI’s abilities. Even on a Normal difficulty I found myself getting wiped off the streets until I found myself a decent strategy to keep up with the enemy and then pass them. It’s brutal and holds nothing back. This really is one of those “easy to learn hard to master” and there’s no shame in trying things out on Easy before re-attempting normal much less multiplayer. Thankfully skirmishes exist in order to better practice your skills!
Antihero is a bit in a league of its own in the way that it plays out. It’s familiar in multiple ways if you’ve played strategy games but it stands out in its approach. Starting off you will have nothing more than your main guild and your Master Thief. From here you can start moving them around the map and uncovering the fog of war that covers it or burgle any of the establishments that are just waiting to be robbed once the fog has been lifted. Seriously they just left the door open what else were you supposed to do?
At the beginning your Master Thief only has two actions making it a hard choice as to whether you want to move twice to uncover fog / infiltrate locations or move and attack someone in your way. Even as more actions come into play attacking can still only be done once but by that point you’ll hopefully have at least one gang, upgrades can provide a second, to go around and do your dirty work for you.
In order to fund these gangs however you’re going to need money and the ability to hire them in the first place. The map that you’ll be exploring is full of locations that are simply awaiting your arrival such as houses and mansions can be looted twice with the second time yielding less money. Establishments by comparison will still be looted but once that’s done they can now be infiltrated by hired street urchins in order to continuously syphon funds every turn that they are there. Filling up a location with three urchins will boost revenue and while banks are more profitable, infiltrating churches will give you blackmail that acts as a required victory point to take the streets from your opponent for good.
Before even thinking about victory you’ve got to plan it out. You’ll need money to hire units and you’ll need lanterns in order to unlock those units for hiring. Both of these resources can be found on the field but if by the end of the turn you can’t really afford anything in the upgrade tree, such as you’re missing lanterns, you can take charity in the form of gold or lanterns to either hire a unit “now” or to make an upgrade on the next turn.
One thing that Antihero does very well is that it makes it hard to “spam”. Every time an upgrade is unlocked or a unit is hired the next one costs one more but only for that turn. Want to fully infiltrate a location and level it up that turn? First urchin you’ll need costs two gold, then three for the second and four for the third. Even with establishments that brings down the cost you need to decide if it’s worth spending the higher amounts of waiting for the next turn since you never know what you’re opponent has up their sleeve.
This is where things get dirty. Your Master Thief can move around and as the game moves on do more damage. You can hire both thugs as roadblocks to your opponent and hire gangs to go about clearing their own blockades as well as the neutral NPCs. As a gang takes out more units they can be upgraded to do more damage, make more money per kill or evict urchins from establishments. Need more muscle and thugs can be added to gangs for extra hit points but only to a certain point which is below the amount of damage that a very expensive Assassin can do which really hurts your own efforts to take the streets when it happens. From that point the only thing that matters is outwitting your opponent and hitting the map’s objectives before they do.
Antihero is great and well thought out. With multiple modes and a ton of replayability both online and off with a hotseat feature to try your mettle against a friend, there’s no way that it’ll be going quietly into the night any time soon. I just wouldn’t be surprised to see the 1v1 become a 1v2 or 1v3 later on which would truly make things both interesting and insane with that many people vying for power!Score: 9 / 10