By Antal Bokor
Turn-based tactics games have been turning up a lot lately. That’s not a problem, really, especially since each is making its own mark on the genre, whether through great mechanics, art style or setting. Othercide hits the mark on all of the above.
Othercide is a turn-based tactics game with some rogue-lite elements set in a horror-themed post apocalypse. In it, you control a small squad of characters with different abilities. Othercide utilizes a somewhat unique turn-order system called the dynamic timeline system that encourages a certain amount of restraint when using abilities—along with the ability to push enemies further back on the timeline.
I always love a good post-apocalypse romp, and adding a horror wrapping in is doubly exciting. Othercide revels in its horror theme. In Othercide you control an army of Daughters—echoes of the world’s greatest warriors, birthed by the powerful Mother, who is on a crusade to stop the Suffering and end its grasp on humanity. The Suffering is your main foe and it is comprised of an army of horrific nightmare creatures, manifested by The Child.
The story is interesting, and the lore is told mostly in tidbits that you can explore through the game’s Codex. The Codex is also great from a strategic standpoint, because it gives information on the creatures you encounter—and the tactics they employ. This allows you to go into fights with the best knowledge you can have against your foes, because the margin for error in Othercide is razor thin.
Othercide is a difficult game. It’s easy to learn, but mastering the Daughters’ abilities to attain the synergy required to progress might take some time. You can control three to four daughters in battle at a time, usually against a horde of aforementioned nightmare creatures with different abilities. The Daughters have different abilities as well—and there are three different classes to start: the defensive Shieldbearer, the melee Blademaster and the ranged Soulslinger. Othercide offers some room for deep strategy and synergy. In fact, synergy seems required to progress, even in the earliest levels.
While I am usually adept at turn-based strategy, I struggled with Othercide. With little margin for error, and its rogue-lite nature, every mistake piles up quickly. You can’t heal your daughters between matches without sacrificing another daughter of equal of higher level, either, making attrition amongst your most powerful warriors a creeping concern. Daughters grow in abilities as they gain experience and hit new levels, and it’s particularly rough to see a high level Daughter sit unused until you have to sacrifice her to heal a lower-level daughter.
There are lots of things in Othercide that want to harm your Daughters—horrific things. Enemy types in Othercide are interesting. Of course, they’re all stylized and horrific, with equally horror-themed backgrounds. Their abilities, for the most part, resemble those of the Daughters. There are several bosses to face in Othercide, each with their own unique set of moves and abilities.
Othercide’s difficult and thin margin for error took away some of the fun for me. I hated the fact that it didn’t seem that there was room for experimentation, or crazy ideas in strategy. In fact, most strategies that worked for me revolved around using the reaction system—where a Daughter will react to a move that an enemy makes, like preventing damage, or attacking a foe that comes within range.
The rogue-lite nature of Othercide is interesting, but it isn’t utilized in the best way. While other rogue-type games use randomization to curb the feeling of constant grind, Othercide is extremely same-y. You’ll run into a lot of the same encounters through each of the runs. Some roguelikes give you a constant feeling of forward progression, but I always felt like I was taking a step back in Othercide, even when using the Remembrances—which are essentially modifiers for each run, or Recollection.
Othercide has some great production value, but it’s not perfect. The first thing you probably noticed about Othercide is its art style. Its black, white and red color scheme is used throughout, and creates extremely striking visuals. Othercide has a magnificent presentation—great soundtrack, and good voice acting. I had some issues with the UI, though. I was having a hard time understanding the information it was trying to convey, and I initially struggled with even issuing commands.
I thought I would enjoy Othercide more, but it just didn’t click with me. I found it too unforgiving, and I felt like I was forced into choosing specific builds from the already limited selection to progress. I love the art style, theme, and the horrific creatures with their equally horrific lore—but despite all of the boxes it checks, it just isn’t the tactics game I’m going to stick with. It’s a solid game though, and I can understand the early praise it has gotten. If it seems like it’s of interest, definitely check it out.
Othercide is available now on Windows.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content and more. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites at twitch.tv/bokor
Third Coast Review is Chicago’s locally curated website, specializing in Chicago-area arts and culture coverage. Read more at thirdcoastreview.com