Acaratus details the story of Adina, a young woman with a muddle past, and her slave, Bolt. You’re thrown immediately into the action as the duo are on the run and upon their successful escape, they turn to rally an uprising against their pursuer, the tyrannical Emperor Helios? In building her forces, Adina discovers some startling things about her past – particularly her parents, who she had never known, and the man who raised her in their stead. The story is interesting and told in un-voiced cutscenes by chapter as you encounter story nodes on the map.
Alongside them you’ll encounter nodes where you’ll find battles, towns, points of interest like campfires, where you can recuperate dungeons, and watchtowers, which push back the fog of war, and various merchants.
Traveling to a node takes time and at the top of the screen, you can see the total number of days your campaign has been running. Time effects enemies, so if you spend too much time wandering around an area, they’ll move their position. Time also affects merchants, who will restock their wares after enough time has passed.
Combat is a turn-based affair on a grid. You start at one end of the map, which are quite small in size, and the enemy at the other and both teams move their units, use cards, and launch attacks. Most require you to destroy all units, though a few simply require you to make your way to an exit point.
Attacks do two types of damage: HP and unit. A single mech is actually a pack comprised of x-amount of people, indicated by rank. You can raise the rank of your mechs in towns via a blacksmith. Your mechs can be destroyed if their unit number hits zero, but units can be replenished at towns and campfires. If an attack only does damage, a single bar of HP will fall–but keep in mind that there is one HP bar per unit in a pack of mechs.
Cards are the game’s way of handling abilities. You have 4 CP at you disposal and it regenerates at the end of every turn. Cards are a consumable object so after using one, it is lost forever. They can easily change the tides of battles, so using them wisely can be the difference between a loss and a victory. You can purchase cards from card vendors, though you’ll receive a pack containing at least one of every available card simply by playing through the story.
Winning battles nets you gold and experience. As Adina levels up, you can select perks that power up your mechs or make exploration more fruitful. Parts only drop after you’ve completed story missions or quests and you typically only get to choose one of three options.
You can manage your cards–a total of 6 at a time–anywhere on the map, but you can only edit your mechs in towns. The bay where you do so allows you to piece together a working suit of armor from parts bought or salvaged from main story missions. The base part for a robot, the core, decides how many extra doodads you can attach and also what weapon proficiencies your mech will have. Additionally, you can attach arms and legs and – core allowing – front, back, and top pieces.
Every part has its own pros and cons, so it’s up to you what will suit your play style. Because there aren’t a large pool of parts to choose from, however, your mechs tend to look the same or similar throughout your playthrough and this feels like a lost opportunity. You can test your various weapons and mech configurations on the training dummies.
Towns offer Blacksmith services, which increase the rank of your units. Rank changes the amount of units you take into battle, which acts as your mech’s hardiness in combat.
You can also visit the Arena in towns. The Arena allows you to complete difficult challenges with a hefty gold reward if you successfully complete the objective.
Dealers are the final amenity offered by towns. These employ an interesting slots-style mini game in which you pay for three spins and then pull the lever. The equipment that you spin can be bought by the gold amount shown, but you can also spin various special effects like “plus rank” or “30% discount” which makes it so that you can pay less or get more bang for your buck. Clicking an item or effect locks it in place, so you can test your luck and try to get that cheap, high level part so long as you have the money for more spins.
The campaign will take you around 8-10 hours to complete depending on skill and whether or not you explore every node or simply bum-rush the story. There are some decisions to be made, but ultimately it’s linear.
There’s also a Skirmish mode. In this mode you choose a play style from one of three, a portrait for your commander from a handful of preset ones, and are given free reign to choose from all of the parts available in the game in order to make your team of up to four mechs and challenge a human or AI opponent on one of 8 possible maps.
The online was down when I tried to access it with the promise that the issue would be fixed soon.
- Giant mechs!
- Challenging turn-based combat on a grid.
- Cards and mech customization add a layer of depth to gameplay, allowing you to adapt different approaches.
- Adina’s perks for levelling up also tailors gameplay.
- The story is a good read, though some of the character exchanges are a bit stilted.
- Skirmishes both online and offline offer increased game time.
- The vendor mini game is an interesting change of pace from the typical vendor NPC exchange.
- Limited pool of parts for mech customization.
- Graphics seem dated.
- The maps are small and there’s little variation in backdrop.
A very solid attempt at an RPG that could have been fantastic given more funds and polish. It’s worth your support and here’s to hoping the developer continues to add to what’s already here. Mech building is in-depth, but limited by a rather small pool of possible parts and the graphics aren’t the most beautiful, but combat is fun and challenging and the story is intriguing.