Antihero is an indie turn-based strategy game, developed by Tim Conkling as their first main release on Steam. Following a group of thieves in an old-time style Victorian city, you will steal, kill and bribe your way to the top of the food chain. Going against rival thieves, corrupt nobles, and even past allies, you will have to worm your way into becoming the best pickpocket around. With an adorable and unique art style, Antihero pulls you in even before seeing its simplistic gameplay.
The game starts off by introducing our first main character, Lightfinger the thief as he goes against his rival Lygrave. While Lightfinger doesn’t have a major guild at the start, the first mission is where he establishes it and recruits new outlaws. After defeating Lygrave, Lightfinger will continue to pick up new allies in the form of the urchin Emma, who is taught in the ways of the thief by Lightfinger. Swapping between these two characters you are given the task of defeating Lygrave the thief, Mathilde the Noble and much more.
The story itself is rather straightforward, you’re a thief so go steal stuff. Though it does add some twists and turns at points, adding to the intensity of your actions and those of your opponents. No “I am your Father” here. At the beginning of missions, you are sometimes given a few comic book strips, alongside a voice over, detailing what is happening in the story. This stylish display is very appealing, keeping the story quick yet interesting at the same time.
There are 11 Chapters to complete, with the beginning 5 being mostly a tutorial on how to play. Each new mission adds a new mechanic to the gameplay, from killing VIPs and having higher costing units to requiring different types of winning conditions. Starting each mission you will establish your guild, send urchins to take over businesses for rewards per turn and gain victory points.
The main story can be completed within 3-4 hours, dependant on the game difficulty setting. There isn’t too much in the way of replayability, as there are no collectibles besides Steam achievements and harder difficulties. However, the harder difficulties definitely feel rewarding once finished.
Antihero is a very easy to grasp game, with 2 main ingredients to its gameplay, the units and the resources. Each turn you can control all of your units once, or your thief 2-5 times depending on their upgrade level. Movements and actions are all done on your units, but you will also be able to gain and spend both Gold and Lanterns, buying units and upgrading them respectively. To interact with the game all you need is a mouse, left clicking to do almost all actions. The game itself is situated on a square board, with several spaces for buildings and paths.
There are 6 units in the game: Urchins, who are used to infiltrate businesses that give you gold and lanterns per turn or offer buffs to other units, even lowering their cost. Thugs, who are used to protect squares of the board, blocking the opponent from moving through them. Gangs, who can attack all other units, once they have killed a unit they gain 1 gold and 1 EXP, EXP can be spent on the gang to improve its damage, gold per kill and urchin kill amount. Saboteurs, who can lay traps in businesses to stun the enemy units. Truant Officers, who can take up to 3 Urchins from a business in one turn, but are one-time use. And finally Assassins, who deal 6 damage to 1 target, also being a single use unit.
Making use of all the units, strategy and controlling businesses your goal is to gain victory points. These come in the form of bribes, by using lanterns, killing VIPs or putting 3 Urchins in churches. Each level has a varying amount of victory points required to win, from 2 to 5. Some levels also enforce unique victory conditions, like requiring you to steal valuables from a larger building, which only appear when you control 2 watchtowers in the city.
Besides the campaign, you can also go head to head in online mode, featuring a 1v1 match, or you can play a Skirmish match vs AI or hot seat with a friend. The rules can be completely changed depending on the player’s wants, from increasing gold income per turn to outright banning some features or win conditions.
Overall thoughts and feelings
Antihero pulls off a Victorian-sounding soundtrack amazingly, alongside its sound design the music feels very fitting whilst still being enjoyable to listen to. While the music does fit the game incredibly it does sometimes lack energy or sense of urgency, going for a more mellow sound. The voice acting is also rather fitting for the area and time, though some of the units do have annoying quotes that are more personal taste than anything else.
While the graphics of the game aren’t spectacular or realistic, the art style itself is gorgeous, combining cartoon, chibi, and line art styles together. The animations are often fluid and pleasing, though some attack animations do come off stiff and clunky. The skill trees are easy to read and general UI is also straightforward with no real need for explanation.
The difficulty of the game is rather smooth and lenient, whilst still having a jump around halfway, keeping you on your toes as you learn the new mechanics. I did feel that sometimes it was unforgiving or assuming prior knowledge which can feel off-putting, but this subsides after a retry or two.
I have looked at this game before and didn’t think too much of it, but thankfully it is one of those games that surprises you with its quirks and smooth gameplay. The Oliver Twist style really appeals to a 90’s kid like myself while the Victorian setting also speaks to the edgy steampunk that lies within.
Overall Antihero gets an 8/10, it has amazing and engaging gameplay that requires you to think rather than brute force it. The style is refreshing alongside the continual addition of mechanics keeping every level feeling fresh. The campaign is rather short, with some nods towards DLC or sequel that does put a damper on the mood a bit. Fans of strategy or resource genre games should love Antihero and is a steal at its current price.
Grab Antihero here on Steam