The game Acaratus is a turn-based strategy RPG game set in a medieval Steampunk world with mechanized battle suits. From that stand point I was expecting something entertaining and fun. However, the game itself is lackluster even with some fun battles and mech customizations. Actually the best aspects of the game are some of the battles and customizations. I think it would have been more exciting if all I did was battle other mechs in the turn-based arenas, which kept me playing. However, it was the addition of a forgettable story that made the game a mediocre experience. The good thing is there was ample battle play over story if you found the right order of things. Maybe it is the odd map that didn’t seem to have a linear progression, which made my experience with Acaratus not as great as I had wished.
Set in a world after the Valerian conflict a slave dealer partners up a slave that is freed in the story to start a revolt, default name of Bolt. Players have an option to change the name of their battle suit pilots in the customization window when visiting towns. They are on a mission to free slaves and revolt against Emperor Helios. Other then that I sort of lost interest in the story.
At story points players get dialogue from characters that lead to bringing people to your cause. It is also an RPG and choices can help or not help the cause. Honestly, I was unimpressed by the main characters, Adina the wealthy slave dealer and Bolt a former slave, who can pilot a mechanized battle suit. Both characters who were righting wrongs and working to free the land from tyranny were very nonchalant and felt devoid of emotion. For me a story is good if a player can really connect with the characters and the story. I found myself clicking through dialogue to get back to fighting.
One good thing about the story is as you go along you get to free people and rally them to your revolt. This is good as it means more mechs at your disposal to take on the Helian forces.
As for the story, players get dialogue when hitting upon story points that are in new unlocked areas. The map isn’t linear and players can branch off to different areas and story points. At the end of different map branches are opportunities to gain new cards, gold, and suit parts. Part of the game is the use of ability cards during battles and new cards are acquired at card dealers. Mech parts are available at merchants and chests have extra rewards. All these are available around the map and become available after a battle. Other unlocks are camps to rest, towns to customize your battle suit, and quests. Camps are abundant and are used to rest after battles. If players are defeated they must rest in order to battle again, victories don’t require rest but it is always a good idea to regain strength.
Let us now shift focus onto the battles and what I have found is the most redeeming quality of Acaratus. In its bare essence this game is a turn-based strategy game. From my experience the most strategy comes by knowing the right combination of cards to use based on the types of enemies in the arena. As a player you get a mech to start then add more friendlies as the game continues. These are customized to player style. Are you a melee type or range or even both? There are options, which make the customization menu superb. I actually quite enjoyed matching parts, whether it is the core, legs, weapons, or boosters that add stronger abilities to the mech.
When you get to a battle point in the map journey the game tells you what to expect by identifying enemy strength. After and before each battle players choose their cards. Cards are lost after a time and players must again return to a card merchant to get more packs. Using the enemy identification may help in choosing the best cards after a few battles. Or players can always replay a battle to get it right.
In essence the enemy types encountered are very weak, weak, strong, very strong, and deadly. Now don’t let this fool you, unfortunately the strength doesn’t always say much. Deadly enemies can be easily beat with the right card combos. Actually some of the weaker enemies are harder then the very strong. Also I have found that the hazards in the arena are not very well timed. For instance if the enemy has a cannon it doesn’t always fire every enemy turn, which one would expect. Using a dash card can get you to the destination quickly after all the enemy mechs are destroyed.
The heavy melee is challenging and the best to play against because they are formidable to range and melee mechs. Once all the enemies are destroyed or you reached the green glowey goal square with the big arrow pointing to it you get rewards of gold. This gold can buy new card packs and better mech parts. My advice to anyone playing this game is to always keep an overwatch for ranged mechs, guard, and dash card in your loadout. Repair is good to have but I lost mine awhile back in the game and have not needed it since. Those three along with maybe a knockback have made my journey successful. However, a lot also has to do with how you build your mechs and your specific play style.
When it comes to gameplay I have little complaints. It is easy to move my mechs to squares in the arena map with ease and the available movement is highlighted in green. Attacks are laid out nicely showing when you can attack and choice of melee or ranged if both types of weapons are present. To use a card just place it on a friendly if it is available for that mech type. Goals are marked out and turns are known.
As a player progresses they must return back to a town to build up their mech. Moving on the map is actually quite easy and all a player has to do is click where you want the marker to move. Although you will end up traveling all over the map to get to places getting to a town is of the upmost importance. Once in town you can customize your mech. Though you really don’t get a sense of these towns. If you want to know what the landscape looks like do the battles, they change based on locations. As players progress they get more mechs to use and all are customizable. Customization is the ability to switch out new parts including cores, legs, weapons as arms, and boosters like parts that add armor and do extra damage.
Now if a player wants a really good challenge and start out with many cards, abilities, and an advanced battle suit try skirmish. The main story is in the campaign but skirmish allows players to really fight battles with the ultimate mech and advanced enemies.
One interesting thing about the game is there is not just the story and battles but you can also receive quests. These give better rewards then just regular battles. One quest I happened upon was to kill all the Helian guards in the unlocked quest area. This also opened up as a camp, which was nice, the more camps the less traveling one needs to do.
All in all Acaratus has a mediocre story mixed with a decent customization system for your medieval Steampunk styled mechanized battle suit. The game is fantasy and sci-fi with an interesting map. I enjoyed battling the Helian forces but some that were specified as difficult were easy with the right card combination and mech build. It’s an average turn-based game that would be good for players looking more for a battle and build system then a story.