Strain Tactics is a top-down, fast-paced, real-time strategy game with quite a lot of detail for this type of genre. Typically on top-down RTS games, users are left with a basic set of guns, coupled with a few healing elements or some type of steroid, as you wonder around a fairly limited map, usually an office or hospital floor, firing off bullets in a 360-degree frenzy to work your way through the different levels. Strain Tactics is slightly more than that, although it isn’t quite a polished product yet.
The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world after a mutant plague has swept across the regions, leaving only a few survivors scattered throughout the various parts of the earth. It’s left to these survivors to man outposts, equip themselves with as much guns and ammunitions as possible, for fight their way back to the top of the food chain. Not much, then, in the way of a story to remember, as we’ve seen this play out so many times now in movies, series and games. But the story doesn’t simply fall flat because of the overuse of this trope, but the developers, Touch Dimensions, use it to their advantage by adding quite a mix of over-the-top science fiction, which actually becomes amusing rather than tawdry.
The gameplay isn’t unique either. I imagine that many players would be put off by the slightly poor user experience in terms of the controls and interfaces, with only the true fans sticking around long enough to extract the most from the game. It takes some time getting used to all of the features thrown into a rather complicated map layout. You control a group of soldiers thrown into different scenarios with different tasks, such as finding and retrieving items for a possible cure or simply taking out a group of mutants. The game feels all too familiar, largely inspired by the likes of XCom. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off mistaking Strain Tactics as an RTS version of the turned-based game. There’s a lot of info to deal with other than simply click-and-shooting your way through missions, and things only get more complicated when you try to navigate some of the in-game menus.
The early moments of playing Strain Tactics took a toll on me and only after some time began to slightly enjoy some of what the game has to offer. I will admit that this isn’t my cup of tea as far as games go, so it was often hard to remain unbiased in my review. On the other hand, I could just as easily be very harsh as to some of the features of the game that don’t play well, and which I got a sense of from the community as well. There are moments of joy scattered throughout as some of the missions are be quite tough to figure out, or simply tough to complete. Surviving each battle with all of your team alive is something of a small victory each time you take your soldiers to the battlefield, which gives you a sense of purpose and responsibility, however weird that may come across.
One of the great things about indie games is their ability to evolve over a short period of time, based on player feedback and the growing game communities. I feel that Strain Tactics may fit the bill to grow into something a lot smoother and more pleasing to the eye. The game has great potential, although I’m not too sure if I’ll be a returning player myself. There are elements about the game that some would enjoy for long periods of time over a few months or even years to come.