I FOUGHT THE LAW…
The fascist regime in Anarcute won’t be easy to take down. Their militia is gargantuan. Here’s just some of the soldiers you’ll be tackling:
The standard footsoldier of the Brainwash Patrol. They don’t provide a lot of resistance, but they can easily kill off some of your group in larger numbers.
These big boys specialise in stomping. They have quite a long charge time, which is clearly indicated, so make sure you get out of the way!
These little puppers are pretty fast and shoot frickin’ laser beams at you. I figure every creature deserves a warm meal. Take them down, however, and you can wield their powerful laserbeam for yourself!
BALL AND CHAIN COP
Much like the Riot Cop, these hefty fellers are kitted in black, but are wielding a huge ball and chain. They can swing it around or lob it straight at you. Watch out for the ball and knock these dudes out fast. Again, you can steal their ball to become a force of nature!
There are many more enemy types available throughout the game. Make sure you learn their attacks carefully so you can deal with them appropriately!
Anarcute has an interesting history: starting as a school project focused on less cute zombies, they transformed it into a riot game starring cute animals instead. It’s certainly an interesting concept that pulls inspiration from the likes of Katamari Damacy and Pikmin. But is it any good?
FIGHT THE POWER!
The plot of Anarcute is quite simple. The world is under the totalitarian control of the Brainwash Patrol. The strange people with animal heads who inhabit the world have had enough of this tyrannical regime and attempt to overthrow it using the power of love. And rioting. There’s no dialogue in the game, instead presenting the story through mumbly cutscenes between each level; it gives you a general sense of progression, but doesn’t do much to add to the overall world. If you came here looking for some kind of story, you’ll probably be disappointed. The game doesn’t really extend much beyond the core setup, but it probably doesn’t really need to either.
Most levels in the game follows a similar structure: you start out with a small group of rioters, and you need to work to find others. This can be done in a variety of ways: some are trapped in cages, others are strapped atop giant buildings, and there are occasional ones that are literally just napping on the street. Regardless of where you find them, these additional members will add to your hoard and increase the overall power of the group, enabling you to utilize additional abilities – such as a stomp attack that can stun enemies, and even being able to pick up entire buildings! It really gives you an increasing feeling of power as your mob gets bigger in size.
With size though comes lack of control. With just a few rioters, it is much easier to avoid enemy attacks and obstacles, but the looseness of the controls become ever more apparent the larger your group becomes. Movement is never precise in the game and moving the stick seems to compel your group into a general direction rather than any precise movement, which tends to lead to many lost lives. If you remember the mob controls in the old Pikmin games, you will probably have a general idea about how imprecise this is; although it feels a lot worse in Anarcute. With rioters only being able to take a few hits before biting the bullet, you will find yourself getting hit by enemy attacks or laser traps that you should be able to avoid, simply because your group of animals aren’t moving quite how you wanted to. One boss requires you to position your army on a small raft to protect yourself from a tidal wave attack, and it’s almost impossible to position yourself – resulting in needless deaths. Things only get worse when dashing; used to rush through traps or avoid enemy fire, it often makes you more vulnerable and can prove pretty stressful. One level has you running through a level quickly using the dash to get through it at speed, but the lack of control tends to put you in awkward positions and make the level more difficult than it should be. Aside from the wonky movement, the rest of the controls fare better. Your team pick up items automatically, and can throw regular or explosive objects using the two triggers, with weapons and destruction assigned to two of the face buttons. It’s all quite simple, thankfully, and you will unlikely fail missions due to the controls.
Regardless of size, your aim is typically to capture the various flags scattered around the levels and capture / destroy key buildings. Of course, the enemy will not make things easy for you as the streets are crawling with armed militia waiting to take you down. Enemies are a highlight of the game, with a huge variety on offer. Every handful of levels of so tend to introduce new enemy types to spice things up, and they all have their own unique attacks or weaponry. The early stomping brutes will be common foes throughout your playthrough, but expect to see laser dogs, ball & chain wielding thugs, and even attack helicopters as things get tougher! They can be tricky to deal when you have a huge number of rioters on your hands, but fights are always fun – even if losing your furry friends is an inevitability.
And you will lose them too. The game is not as easy as you expect it to be. Careless rioting costs lives, and if you rush in expecting to overwhelm everyone then you won’t get far through the game. Taking a cautious approach is definitely the right idea. Throwing projectiles from afar can be a good way to deal with distant enemies, attracting a smaller number towards you. Sneaking up on attack helicopters before they spot you and fly off is also a great idea. The game knows this too and throws in the occasional stealth level with a lone warrior that help you learn how to be sneaky – these levels are a nice change of pace, and aren’t too difficult either. Speaking of a change of pace, the game does throw in a surprising amount of variety throughout its short playtime. The bulk of the levels may follow a similar structure, but you will get levels that play in a very different way – one level even sees you raiding a police concert, taking down waves of enemies as the music gets increasingly more frantic! These are all capped off with a boss fight at the end of each area that provide a solid challenge, and also a lot of fun. These surprised me as they take some of the new mechanics from that area and centre the boss around it. The second area introduces the laser weapon, which can be used to cut metal objects; the boss is a giant arachnid-like mechanoid, which you naturally have to cut the legs off using your new play-toy. I expected them to be simple hit-the-weakspot affairs, but there’s a good amount of strategy to them and proved to be my favourite part of the game.
PIKING A FIGHT
I PREDICT A RIOT
The game isn’t without its issues though. The aforementioned control problems are not only frustrating when trying to do anything that requires precise movement, but they also destroy the game’s attempt at providing replayability. Every level in the game will earn you a ranking, with S rank being the highest for killing lots of cops, completing a level fast, and for maintaining a large group of rioters. Getting S ranks on every level in an area will net you a lousy T-shirt to dress your animals in. Some levels aren’t so bad, but trying to save as many of your mob as possible is extremely frustrating due to the damn controls. Coupled with the poor reward for doing so completely destroys any desire you may have to go for the highest rating.
The game also suffers from a lack of aesthetic variety. The art style in general looks decent for the most part with its cutesy aesthetic, but all of the environments look pretty much the same. There’s variation every now and then, with the third area in the game being easily the most visually distinctive, but everything else lacks any real distinction for the most part. One area starts out with lots of ice everywhere, adding some kind of visual identity, but then drops it for most of the subsequent levels making it seem virtually identical to everything else. This visual monotony makes the game a bit of a drag when playing in large doses, even when the game tries to spice up the actual gameplay: I couldn’t play more than half an hour without switching to something else. At least the music never becomes tiresome, providing cheery tunes to bop your feet to as you pummel your authoritarian oppressors.
Despite the issues, the game is still fun in short doses. Forming a mob and tearing down a town is quite cathartic, and the cuteness helps offset just how horrifying the premise is. It may not last too long, but the budget price helps make it a little more palatable. If you are a fan of Katamari and Pikmin games, then you will no doubt find some enjoyment in Anarcute too.