Friday, September 30, 2022

The Anacrusis – Early Access Review

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The Anacrusis appeared on our compasses mid-2021 with dev-blogs explaining how their approach would be, or just to have some thoughts discussed with players. Recently, these thoughts came into life first time under Early Access note. Let’s see how it plays out so far.

In The Edge of Universe

In The Anacrusis, we are on a massive starship stranded at the edge of explored space. If you are not sold at this moment, I can elaborate by saying it is looking like Left 4 Dead – but in space. There are 4 different players on each session which can be played by a friend, a random person or the good old AI itself.

When I first booted up The Anacrusis, I immediately saw there is not much to do other than starting matchmaking or setting up some controls. I chose my character and browsed through what I have. Thankfully, there was an intro, explaining briefly why we are here, instead of sending us out clueless. The game immediately stops doing it after intro though, you are expected to sniff around and explore most of the time.

The matchmaking at the time did not work properly so there was another player and me only with two bots immediately rushing to the action. I looked around and picked up a gun that I hoped to work better, only to get disappointed later. There was an upgrade station right away, where I could select one out of three ‘perks’ to give me advantage against hordes of enemies. There is a bit more randomness each time you visit these, if you ever want to try same level with a different approach.

Drifting Through Space

The Anacrusis’s gameplay is definelitely not the easiest out there but you can’t get the mood you could get in Back 4 Blood or Left 4 Dead. The guns are all white, look almost same or not much different than each other. Worse is, they also all feel same. The enemies are same across areas, so the mechanics. In the end you find yourself pushing buttons over and over again. I know about space and I am kind of interested in it, but there is definitely something not clicking when I only feel dull.

Only animation I liked was the ragdolls, which would affect the atmosphere and feeling if they weren’t alone. The rest of the animations does not support it so it’s up there by itself. The reviving animation is just a character making “come” gesture for couple seconds.

What Did We Expand Into

The writing does not get much better, but at least characters have their own tone. Yet, game decides not to use these moments often. I felt like its baby me being talkative in the theatre, shushed by my mother due my talkative personality.

Instead of directly following Left 4 Dead formula, The Anacrusis has their own approach to the level lengths. It usually takes 25 to 30 minutes to complete a level. Good thing is the checkpoints are scattered around the level so you won’t start from the beginning if you happen to have bad teammates or when AI decided not to help you (uncool, AI!).

Someone dying on the mission does not matter much since there is an option to revive them in return of a horde. One of the signature things I missed was the stats between checkpoints to see how I and my teammates performed. If I revived my teammates 4 times or killed more than all others combined, it feels like I deserve at least a pat in the back.

AI issues sadly does not end with this, they can’t do most of the things a human player can do. AI not throwing grenades is not new, yet they can’t use special weapons or use different tactics either. They just rush to whatever closest needs to be killed, kill and roam around you. In this case they are not much different than shield orbs orbiting around (feel like Saturn yet?).

The progression is not present yet, but there is a “Season” mentioned in the Main Menu, which at this point makes me nervous rather than excited.

Sum It Up

The Anacrusis is still in an Early Access state and definelitely needs major rework on important areas. There should be progress and maybe different mechanics since even if they succeed what they do at the moment, they are very close to be named as “Another L4D Clone”.

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