Shock Tactics (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 28.04.2017

Review for Shock Tactics on PC

It is far from unusual for a developer starting out to lift elements from another franchise in order to ease a fanbase in. Yacht Club Games masterfully used elements from Capcom platformers with Shovel Knight without compromising its own identity, and Undertale incorporated a similar writing style to EarthBound that, likewise, didn't rely too heavily on the homage. On the other side of the tracks, Mighty No. 9 was effectively a bad Mega Man that stole design elements from the franchise without adding any of its own. Paying homage is a double-edged sword and, for better or worse, it's one that Shock Tactics holds rather prominently.

It's almost embarrassing how badly Shock Tactics wants to be XCOM. From the aesthetic to the gameplay to the premise, there isn't much in the way of originality for the developers, Point Blank Games, to stand out.

Their attempt at a story ends up feeling thrown together at the last minute, with poorly mixed and poorly directed voice acting souring an already shallow plot. The writing itself is passable, but it reads like the writer was bored and had no real intention of fleshing out ideas or characters past the bare minimum.

Screenshot for Shock Tactics on PC

With a less than stellar story sitting in the background, the gameplay needs to do the heavy lifting and offer something gripping and engaging in the way of turn-based strategy. Sadly and strangely, but perhaps not surprisingly, Shock Tactics offers very little in the way of actual tactics.

Combat is pretty much lifted from XCOM without much innovation. Player turns consist of moving the party around the map, resource management, and shooting enemies from across the map. Enemy turns usually find enemies ignoring common sense and leaving the safety of cover to be moving targets.

If the AI actually worked properly, maps would most likely be fairly difficult since there tends to be little in the way of cover on the ally side and an abundance of cover on the enemy's. Unfortunately, enemies are rather suicidal and rush out of cover instead of luring the party into enemy territory.

Screenshot for Shock Tactics on PC

Reinforcements happen often enough that it would have prompted last minute tactic changes if the party were stuck on the other side of the map, but it's not only easier to just wait for enemies to leave cover, it's going to be happening regardless.

The actual gameplay feels terribly slow and the camera doesn't do the maps any favours unless some major key binding is done. Level design focuses on moving across flat surfaces and occasionally sprinting up a hill, but everything else is otherwise static in terms of mobility. In an alien world, Point Blank Games could have played around quite a bit with verticality, but they seem content in sticking to the basics.

The absolute worst thing about Shock Tactics ends up being its mission objectives. Open fields are already a huge detriment to any turn-based strategy, but Point Blank Games goes one further by forcing every playable character to stay alive in far too many missions.

Screenshot for Shock Tactics on PC

Part of the turn-based strategy genre, especially one that takes so heavily from XCOM, is party management. If the game ends whenever a party member dies, then this is no longer possible. It also means sacrificing an ally in a tough moment isn't possible and, in general, just closes the door on countless tactics and strategies.

Paying homage and taking inspiration is understandable, but Shock Tactics does not understand what made XCOM work, nor does it understand the turn-based strategy genre. As it stands, it's just a poor attempt at ripping off a far better video game.

Screenshot for Shock Tactics on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Far too often developers pay "homage" by lifting elements from far better games and stripping them down to their shallowest parts. Unfortunately, Shock Tactics is no different than those vain attempts at cashing in on a much better franchise. Point Blank Games steals as much as they can from XCOM, but they neglect to snatch any of the charm and level design that made the series so popular. The enemy AI is horrendous, maps under designed, and missions range from easy to annoying, but never challenging. In a world where XCOM exists, there is little reason to give Shock Tactics the time of day.

Developer

Point Blank Games

Publisher

EuroVideo Medien

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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