|Platforms||PC (reviewed), XBO|
|Release Date||July 12, 2016|
This review was written using a key provided by the developer
Anarcute is a combination of “anarchy” and “cute” – and that fits both as the portmanteau nature of the title and the game itself. It’s a riot simulator where the rioters are cute animals with cute signs, rioting against the rule of totalitarian corporations in a bright, fun, colourful world where bunnies and owls and snails and cats and more all come together to beat up the brainwash patrol, throw cars at helicopters, collapse buildings and do all the things cute rioters generally do.
Anarcute is a simple premise – cute anarchy. It takes this premise, marries it with simple controls and simple gameplay, and creates a game that is easy to pick up and play. I’m not using the term “simple” in any kind of derogatory fashion here. Anarcute succeeds at being a fun game precisely because it’s a simple one. Within the few minutes it takes to complete the games opening level you’ll be familiar enough with the controls to know what’s what and start having fun. The game layers in new mechanics and abilities throughout its play time, but the core mechanics are easy to pick up in less than the time it takes to download the game.
You start each level with a few rioters and a series of simple objectives, all of which revolve around beating up the brainwash patrol. As you make your way through the level you need to capture or destroy several objectives that are guarded by your enemies. These levels are generally puzzles in and of themselves. What Anarcute challenges you to do is find the best, most efficient path through them. Finding the best way through the winding, interconnected streets of each level is a big part of the game, as you try and make sure you get the drop on the bad guys as often as possible.
The best way to do this is by recruiting more rioters. You can have up to sixty in your control at once. You find them locked up or sleeping at various points of the map, handily highlighted on your minimap as white dots, and you need to rescue them or simply run to them to get them to join your mass of cute animals. The more rioters you have the more abilities you unlock, and the more powerful those abilities are. With enough rioters you’ll be able to knock over buildings, stomp massive objects out of your way and hold more throwable objects such as cars or benches or basically whatever you can find.
There’s a level of customisation to these abilities too. While some are fixed, you buy others at a dispenser with currency earned by completing levels. These purchased abilities slot into the meter between existing ones. You can select three extra abilities, and there are four for each tier, allowing you to tailor your rioters to your own play style. You can customise your rioters to have access to infinite throwable items, or become invincible briefly after a stomp, or basically any number of ways that suit how you approach the game.
All of this comes together in simple gameplay mechanics. You guide your up-to-60 strong group of rioters together. You attack enemies by pressing A, dodge by pressing X, stomp by pressing B and throw stuff with the triggers. Y destroys buildings when you have the ability to do so. These simple controls allow the game to get out of its own way and let the core gameplay be the major focus, and the core gameplay loop is fun and a little addictive. And there’s nothing quite like the sight of 60 cute animals performing a dodge dash across a city street to avoid the minigun fire from a helicopter. Anarcute is packed with scenarios such as this and many more.
Not that the game itself is necessarily simple. While there aren’t a great deal of stages, there is a fair amount of replay value built into Anarcute thanks to its grading system. Each time you complete a level you’re graded on time taken, number of rioters and the number of cops you beat up. Completing levels as fast as you can while finding all your riot buddies and beating up every cop around gets you an S ranking, and these can be quite tricky to get. While Anarcute doesn’t demand perfection in exchange for S ranks, you still need to be on the ball, especially as finding all the rioters and earning high marks unlocks new animal types to join your revolution.
Anarcute is also punctuated by boss battles. At the end of each stage of missions you’ll be facing off against some form of boss, like a giant mechanical spider whose legs you need to destroy with lasers dropped by standard enemies. These battles can be quite tricky as you try to work out what you’re supposed to do, and how you’re supposed to go about doing it. There can be a little frustration at first, as it can take a few goes to figure this out, but the game doesn’t punish you very much for dying (merely sends you back to the beginning of whatever level you’re on). The boss fights are fun and dynamic, doing a good job of breaking up the more standard puzzle-esque levels of strategy gameplay.
Anarcute is exactly as fun and charming as you’d expect from a game with a name like “Anarcute”, as well as its generally colourful and bright exterior. Riots have never been cuter thanks to a wonderful cast of cute animals as revolutionaries. There’s a fun game to be found a the core of Anarcute too – with a simple yet addictive gameplay loop and controls that are easy to pick up and memorise. The game can get tricky in its boss fights and, if you play carelessly, some of its later levels. The real challenge of Anarcute comes from trying to get perfect rankings in all of its levels, or you could just have a good time leading a band of cute bunnies through a colourful, implausibly cute riot simulator. Your choice.
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