STAFF REVIEW of Anarcute (Xbox One)

Thursday, July 28, 2016.
by Jennifer Dingle

Anarcute Box art When you think of large scale riots in major world capitals, you think of fires, violence, and mass destruction that the nightly news may portray. You typically don’t think of cute animals and catchy music. Developer Anarteam has taken a dark and dreary subject and developed a riot simulator filled with adorable creatures, bringing their student project riot simulator Anarcute to consoles with a flourish of bright colours and adorable characters. Who would have thought it, right?

The narrative has the wretched and evil Brainwash Patrol who have taken over the world, filling major cities with their minions of police and special forces. A group of protesters seek to rid the world of this terrible group, donning animal masks to disguise themselves while allowing themselves to recognize each other as allies as they march through cities like Tokyo and Miami, growing in size as they wake up other protesters to join their cause and wreak havoc in their wake. Your job, should you take it, is to control these mobs and help them complete their mission.

The gameplay centers around growing your group of protesters and freeing different areas of cities from the nasty Brainwash Patrol while overcoming various obstacles. From stealthily sneaking past police, turning on a radio antenna, to fending off waves of special forces as you set explosives off to topple the Eiffel Tower (for a good cause of course!), each level offers a new challenge to riot through. The streets are filled with obstacles, such as laser beams that block your way or explosive mines that can devastate your group of protesters (or you can use them to your advantage) for example. You’ll face off against packs of police, shielded special forces, snipers, helicopters dispatched to break up the crowd, and you’ll even encounter some heart stopping boss battles against a few monstrous robotic creatures, which can be quite tough at times! Don’t let the cute cartoonish graphics fool you, Anarcute can be very challenging with the difficulty level considerably ramping up as the game progresses; however, despite having different objectives in each level, I felt that the game was a bit repetitive at times as gathering protesters and fighting gets a tad boring after a few levels.

One rioter or seventy, they all move as one, using the left stick on the controller. As you guide them through the city they pretty much destroy everything in their path, picking up objects such as fences, bushes, and signs to use as projectiles in the midst of battle. Even cars and trucks can be lifted and thrown to cause a large explosion, which can be quite helpful when faced with a large group of fast approaching enemies. The right stick controls the camera, and I found the angles were a bit problematic, nothing that really ruined the experience though, but it was a bit frustrating at times, especially in the midst of a boss battle.

There is strength in numbers, and as your group of rioters increases they have access to new abilities, such as stomping to knock down barriers, a fast dash to quickly maneuver out of harm's way, and the ability to smash buildings to strategically make your way through the city or take out a sniper up high on a rooftop. These skills can be upgraded thanks to the coins rewarded after completing a level. These upgrades include such things as a faster march or the ability to throw infinite projectiles once the crowd reaches a certain level. However, as your group is harmed and you lose protesters in the heat of the riot, you no longer have access to these skills, so extra care must be taken to protect the rioters from attacks such a tear gas and sniper fire.

You are graded after completing a stage based on how fast you finished the level, how large your group was, and how many Border Patrol were destroyed in your riot. It adds a bit of replay value to Anarcute, as you’ll strive to get the coveted S (Smashing) rank and earn more coins for upgrades.

You can customize the look of your group, and unlock new animal heads as your progress through cities. Want a group entirely consisting of shiba inus and pugs? An army of nothing but cats to march through Reykjavik? You can do that and you may just unlock an achievement while you’re at it. It should be noted though that the different heads are aesthetic only, and do not add any special abilities to the group.

The graphics are what really make Anarcute so special. Think cute Japanese style cel-shaded characters, with bright and happy colours. The cities themselves look a bit too similar though, as the buildings and streets looking very much the same level to level, with the exception of a few signs and a famous landmark here and there. This lack of variety added to the repetitiveness. The soundtrack was very catchy and upbeat, perfectly matching the tone of the game and the locations, such as hints of an accordion in the track when rioting through Paris.

While it can feel repetitive at times, I enjoyed my experience playing Anarcute. The developers have taken a very dark subject matter and turned it into one of the most adorable games I have ever played. The grading and customizations add some replay value, and the cute characters and upbeat soundtrack make this riot simulator a pleasure to play. I think the price is a bit steep for what is offered, but Anarcute stands out as a unique addition to the ID@Xbox program, and is certainly worth checking out for those looking for something different.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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