About This Game
Antihero is a fast-paced digital board game with an (Oliver) Twist. Recruit street urchins, hire thugs, start a gang, upgrade your guild, steal everything… and bribe, blackmail, and assassinate your way to victory. Includes a story-driven campaign, AI skirmishes, and intense online and offline PvP.
- Underground Street Wars! Play through the story-driven campaign, skirmish against the AI, and jump online in casual and ranked PvP multiplayer.
- Challenge Your Friends! Invite friends to play asynchronously or increase the pressure in a Live Match. Set up custom “House Rules” and tailor the game to your tastes!
- Take over the city! Protect what’s yours. Infiltrate businesses, sneak into estates, set traps, and steal everything. The city’s riches are yours – if your opponent doesn’t take them first.
- Sneakery, Stabbery, and Skullduggery! Upgrade your guild, recruit street urchins, hire thugs, start a gang… and bribe, blackmail and assassinate the opposition. There are many paths to the top.
- Manage a healthy economy. Spend your ill-gotten riches to hire new recruits, upgrade your thieving skills, and acquire deadly weapons. Gold is a thief’s best friend!
- Rise to the top! See how you rank among all Master Thieves in the in-game leaderboards.
- OS: Windows 7 or later
- Processor: Core i5
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: Integrated video (Intel HD 4000 or later), 1 GB shared memory
- Storage: 500 MB available space
- Additional Notes: Display: 1280 x 720
Sure, the "Gangs of New York" + "Oliver Twist" theme is nice and the campaign provides 10 varied levels, BUT it’s a problem of value for your money. If you can get it for 5$ or less, then yeah, maybe, but otherwise there are infinitely better strategy games out there.
I finished the campaign in 4 hours, and these 4 hours felt longer than they should have been. This is in part because the game’s animations and sequence of events are artificially long, but mostly because the gameplay severely lacks depth. After the first 3-4 levels (out of 10), I had enough mastery over the simple systems that finishing a level was just a matter of going through the motions and waiting for the predictible conclusion. It is quite easy to figure out what to do and which options are the best. There is not much granularity in gameplay, not a lot of small decisions that can make a difference down the line. I can’t imagine different players using very different routes to victory. And you can feel that from the get-go, with a tutorial that does not allow the player to develop his style or experiment.
After finishing the campaign, the game wants you to play online versus real opponents, but frankly, I cannot see how online play might take off. The depth is just not there for a strategy game, and I don’t know how most games will avoid degenerating into mirror matches with no obvious way out of the inevitable stalemate. I’m not bothering to find out, anyways.
Another unfortunate aspect of this game is the lack of thematic coherence. The promise of backstabbing, assassinating and blackmailing does not translate into anything at all. These are just words and images glued over game mechanics that have nothing to do with them. There is no stealth, no guild member management, no lies, no scheming … nothing that you would expect from a game that sells a thieve’s guild fantasy. Gameplay-wise, the game is an abstract resource management game with a very simple combat system, all rolled into a 1v1 turn-based strategy structure. It feels like the art department wanted to do a thieves guild game, while the game design guys decided they wanted 30-minute strategy duels. Not to mention the music which absolutely does not fit the theme whatsoever (although it’s a nice music if you like Pachelbel’s Canon, which I think it is based on). What a mix …
Now this game is not all bad. The art is competent, there are no noteworthy technical issues (in the off-line campaign at least), the devs put a very nice effort into varying the gameplay across levels, the learning curve is smooth. A shame that the pros get overshadowed by the cons.
The map consists of rectangular tiles which are covered in fog of war. These tiles can be either streets or houseblocks. Streets can be used to move units. Houseblocks can be burgled for money and research currency (lamps).
Houseblock also contain one of several infiltratable buildings which give different bonuses like more money, lamps or discounts on units.
Each turn, the active player gets a character which has a certain number of actions per turn. The number of actions depends on certain skills in the research trees.
An action can be:
– Get rid of up to 3 tiles fog of war at streets
– Attack an NPC / enemy player unit
– Scout a houseblock und burgle the building you entered the housblock through.
– Burgle a building of an already discovered houseblock
After all your actions with this character are used, you can’t explore further. (with one excpetion)
3.) Builder Placement
Each turn the active player can spend gold to hire henchman. These are:
-Urchin (can infiltrate buildings to give the player boni)
-Thug (can block streets and disappear after 2 turn(doesn’t count for gangs))
-Gang (can attack NPC / enemy player units, gets an upgrade for each kill(8 total), gets life by "devour" Thugs)
-Saboteur (places traps in buildings for 2 turns. Unit which attacks a trapped building is stunned for 1 turn and loses all actionpoints. Also scouts buildings)
-Officer (clears an entire building from urchins. Disappears after 1 use)
-Assassin (Deals massive damage. Disappears after 1 use)
Each turn, the active player can buy upgrades from 3 tech trees for lamps. these upgrades give several bonuses like more advanced henchman or more action points for the temporary character.
The campaign consists of 11 levels with different objectives.
The first 3 levels are more or less the tutorial, where the game guides you through its mechanics. But, the third level is by far the most difficult one in the entire game.
The rest plays like a normal skirmish with some cool ideas to change the objectives (don’t wanna spoiler something here).
In my opinion its the strongest part of the game, despite its length.
I still have to criticise the 3rd level as to hard, not just in terms of an normal level, but also as an follow up, to the first 2 really easy and guided missions.
Skirmish games are games for victory points against the AI.
You can choose to play on 4 different maps. 3 of them already known through the campaign.
You can also choose the difficulty of the bots from 3 different difficulties.
To make a long story short, you play through the above mentioned steps (How the game works) and fight for victorypoints.
After some matches you get a spin on how things work and this mode brings you no challenge anymore.
The Multiplayer is split into 2 options, which play out like skirmish matches, but against a real opponent.
1.) Live Match
The are literally skirmish matches against a human player.
The big downside is, you can’t choose a map (its random) and you just can see the scenario info in loadscreens
Casual matches play out as skirmishes too, but not synchronous like a live match. The match is hosted on a server, so you can actually leave the game for your opponents turn.
You get an email when your turn begins.
The problem with this is, even, when you stay ingame, everytime your turn starts, you get an email. It is possible to disable this in the options. But i would prefer a simple
query if the player is still taking part in the actual game. If not send a email, if he is, dont send one.
In this mode you’re actualy able to use the scenario info outside of the loading screen.
And now the criticism:
These are mostly aimed on the multiplayer part of the game
1. First turn advantage
After a developer answered to this post, that they took measurements to prevent this, I played some more games against a friend.
Every time, the player, who started first won the map. You really get some extra lamp on your first turn, and our experience may be just unlucky, but at least for me, this is a thing.
2. Maps aren’t randomized itself, but how the ressources are distributed is.
This is a big problem. Especially in the early game. A fairly legit tactic is to rush to the enemy base, research thugs and spam his base. This forces the player to develop gangs and let them stay out in the open, so they can be killed.
If you also have no gold generating buildings, you have to kill the Thugs with your main character, which costs you an action and also the only attack for a round. On the other side, the other player still has his freedom,
can expand faster and snowball out of this.
I dont wanna have a mirrored map or something like this, but I think a money generating building at the start area should be added.
3. Victory points are randomized over the map.
I.)Churches spawn in different locations with different distances to the player
II.)assasinationtargets / NPC targets spawn random through all of the map (despite buildings)
It can happen, that a Target is spawning in front of a playerbase, which means the other player has some big problems, like:
– the other player hasn’t lifted the fog of war yet.
– the "lucky player" will kill the other players gang for getting the target (which brings the other player into a hughe disadvantage)
– the "lucky player" can train his gangs with addspawn from the target.
-the "lucky player" also can have some disadvantages by this spawn too.
This targets block paths, so one player can trap the enemy inside of his spawn very easy and also spawnkilling new gangs without having any risk.
4. Insufficient Visibility for Victorycontions
Victoryconditions are just visible through a button in the menu (through the gear symbol) or the loadscreen before a match.
In live matches the button in the menu is not clickable.
I would like to see a button in the actual game (in the UI, not in the menu) which shows you the victorycondition of the current map when pressed.
After playing some more games and also played the campaign, i can understand why many people recommend this game. But I still have my concerns especially
on the PVP side of the game and can’t change my decision with good conscience.
I will look into later patches and update this review if neccessary.
I hope the team behind this will keep it up and take this as its meant to be, constructive criticism from someone, who appreciates and likes the idea behind the game.
-Reworked the "How the game works" part. Made it more detailed, to reflect to flow of the game better
-Added the part "Campaign"
-Added the part "Skirmish"
-Added the part "Multiplayer"
-Added the title "Criticism"
-Reworked "First turn advantage"
-Reworked "Maps aren’t randomized itself, but how the ressources are distributed is."
-Reworked "Insufficient Visibility for Victorycontions"
-Reworked the last paragraph
At its core, you control a Thieves Guild, along with its main character: The Master Thief.
The Master Thief is primarily used to scout the city and burgle neighbourhoods in order to steal coins. You’ll also get to upgrade your Guild so as to get access to other types of units, which include, for example, the Thug, the Gang and Urchins. These are hired with said stolen coins and are sent into the city to infiltrate businesses, block your opponent from doing any infiltrating, and to attack your opponent’s units.
Your opponent is – of course – doing the exact same thing during his or her round.
The game thus becomes a sort of chessgame during which you both try to get the upper hand, althewhile trying to block the other. Resources are necessary not only for getting more units in the field, but also for pursuing those tasks that grant you victory points. These tasks vary from using urchins to take control of a church, assassinating wandering targets, spending resources on bribes, etc.
Whoever accumulates the necessary victory points first (which vary depending on the map) wins the game.
If you enjoy tactical thinking, set in a Dickens-setting, then you’ll enjoy this game.
I really enjoy it. Best game yet this year!
Update 13 hours in: It’s still really fun!
2nd update: 29 hours in: My sleeping cycle is ruined. Nothing like the thrill of outsmarting a complete stranger to a nice tune.
Final thoughts: The game is a casual boardgame masterpiece. There is definetly depth there but there is very little you need to know to get started and that is amazing to me. Aestetics are on point I really like how the game looks, sounds, feels and plays.
The balancing act of scouting, acquiring researching/tech, and developing military is all present. Antihero also features a campaign which functions as a great tutorial. The campaign starts off holding your hand for a turn or two to establish a game mechanic, then lets you play on your own to experiment with various victory conditions. Within 2 or 3 levels the game no longer dictates your opening moves for you and begins testing your ability to deal with certain strategy archetypes, such as a scout heavy archetype. Games will very likely end within 20 turns making matches long enough for compelling strategy and decision making, while also quick enough to make you want to jump into another match.
Also, the art style has a lot of charm to it. The music and little soundbytes from the characters and units help to complement the Victorian-era theme.
Plainly, it’s a lovely game.
Antihero fits very well into the niche of relatively quick strategy-based games. As you play, many interesting choices come up. Calling this game ‘casual’ is a misnomer — this is the only way to have real, challenging strategy ie. against another player. The game *can* drag a bit, which is why I recommend playing asynchronously rather than live — unless both players are experts, turns can take longer than is advisable for this kind of multiplayer game.
Graphics-wise, Antihero won’t blow you away, but the graphics look professional and stylistic. Music and voicework is decent, and the theme of Victorian England is both consistent and enjoyable.
In terms of the mechanics, the game employs some interesting ideas that I haven’t seen before. You scout out the city with your thief, displacing bits of the fog of war. As you do so, you need to infiltrate businesses with your urchins to get resources. You can also set traps for your opponent and block pathways in the city. Most interestingly, unlike most computer games, characters aren’t limited to a certain number of tiles. Instead, they can move as far as they want within the area you have scoped out with your thief and so long as they don’t bump into enemies.
I place this game firmly within the ‘Real Strategy with Low APM’ sub-genre, which I think is crucially important for video games. Pick this game up and play with a friend for maximum enjoyment.
EDIT: After playing a bunch of Antihero games online (on mobile), I’ve found out that this game is even deeper than it seems at first. It’s a really intricate strategy game, with a lot of ways to mess with your opponent, and very subtle strategies that take time to learn. Async is the best way to play this game IMO – you can have 10 or more games going on at once – but a live game will let you focus on the nuances your opponent communicates even more. This game is a treasure and if you’re at all into strategy, you *need* to play it.
The true strength of this game is in its asynchronous multiplayer. Once again I have time to play the game with friends and at my pace. It’s great.
Art is readable, gameplay is deep enough to give me weeks of fun and the game is being updated with tweaks and bugfixes (haven’t found a bug yet).
All in all one of my better game purchases this year.
Antihero is a perfect example of one of those kinds of games and it does a very good job of presenting a solid lobby system for matches. While the option exists to play a synchronous real time game as well, the asynchronousity is really where the game stands out.
This is a solid strategy game, with enough options that you’re planning out the future, but not enough to be overwhelming to strategy novices. A perfect entry game (if you’re just starting into strategy), you’ll be charmed by the well-done graphics, the theme, and the play.
To put the finishing touch on the game, is a campaign that’s long enough to show you how to do most things, without sticking around too long and boring you. The game is designed as a multiplayer game, but you can tell that this campaign has been given a lot of love as well.
If you want to just play the single player campaign, I’d say that there’s still enough content at this price point to jump on the wagon. If you think you might dip your toe in the multiplayer scene as well, it’s a no-brainer. Also, if you’re looking for a multiplayer game with no toxicity, then this is it, because other than the actual gameplay, there is no interaction with the other people that you’re playing with.
Great game to chill out with… and the atmosphere is absolutely fantastic, held up by well-designed graphics, fantastic animations, and a sound effects board that goes with the game very well.
– Matches tend to drag a lot in the late game. You and your opponent often come to a stalemate, when neither of you can win or lose quickly. This leads to frustratingly boring exchange of units with nothing more to it, which feels more like a chore than intense confrontation. Late game needs A LOT of work to make it worthwhile.
– Even worse, sometimes you can lose (or win) by pure luck. In the late game special heists are practically the only source of income, since every coin on the map has been burglared already. So these special heists give you much needed extra money, but they’re one-time use and respawn after several turns. And this mechanic is just plain broken, since you can’t predict when they will become available. Moreso, these resources spawn at the start of players turn, and this player can get them immediately with absolutely no way of stopping them. So in late game, when two opponents have no resources at all, there are often situations when one of them gets lucky and have these heists spawn for them 2 or 3 turns in a row, meaning instant win, while their opponent has actually NO means to do anything about it. No skill, pure luck.
– Assassins need a nerf. They need to either become much more expensive, or toned down. For now they feel more like a legal cheat than balanced unit.
I’m really sad since I had high hopes for this one looking for my fix of strategic PvP. Base of the game is fine, but it looks like there was little to none balance testing before the launch. Or it was limited to a very small number of people. Right now: not recommended.
This is the best thing since sliced bread! And I don’t even LIKE digital borad games. I tried it out after watching a TotalBiscuit episode (may he play in gaming heaven) and I got hooked instantly. I just finished my hard campaign run and I wonder why the multiplayer queue is literally empty.
Is is simple enough to pick up quickly, yet complex enough to make a variety of strategies viable. If you like board games like Catan, Carcassonne or Monopoly (digitally or otherwise) you should love the sh!t out of this.
I just purchased the phone version of the game just to support the studio. I sincerely hope there is more of this coming our way.
One note of caution though, since Multiplayer is pretty much dead/empty, it is going to be hard for most players to milk more than 20 or 30 hours of enjoyment out of the game.