I absolutely suck at strategy games. Even light-strategy games really. I think I just don’t think far enough ahead when playing a video game. This to me is what Tooth and Tail really gets right, it’s quick and fluid combat through units is so easy to get to grips with you’ll be forming your own menagerie of bandits in no time to take down the various rival factions. Pocketwatch Games have really pulled it off again, just like they did with Monaco in 2013.
This is a game about war. War, rebellion, food and cannibalistic anthropomorphic animals banding together to support their faction-focused cause. In the case of the player character, it’s down to the fact that your son was taken from you and eaten by the opposition. The story goes a lot further than that being the catalyst for the whole game, but it does it in such a way that I won’t spoil here. What I will say is the influences are clear and well represented and the writing is very smart to match.
This is a strategy game, there’s no escaping that. But it’s a very light, very fluid real-time strategy game. Tooth and Tail, for lack of a better phrase, “let’s you play, your way”. I personally spend a few minutes dropping various spawn burrows so my fuzzy allies can join me on the frontlines and then proceed to chase and destroy my enemies. A smarter person than me might instead form groups based on species/class and leave a defence team behind at captured farms while leading a more focused team to capture enemy farms to gain their food resources so that I may feed more troops and in turn make more burrows to recruit more allies.
My tactics of running through the battle-zones with a banner flag and several creatures to aid me was not always successful, I died a lot. But I can confidently say I learnt from a lot of those deaths and absolutely saw them all as my own doing. I felt the difficulty ramp up, but not out of sync with gaining the favour of more varied and powerful allies. The mission variety in and of itself was very well paced. A few farm capturing skirmishes here, some prisoner freeing there. You’ll see some repetition for sure, but thematically it’ll still make sense and feel good. And maybe it’s just that I’m not good at strategy, but each win did truly feel like a victory. Not once did I breeze through a mission.
If I’ve not stressed enough how this is isn’t just another strategy game, it bares worth mentioning Tooth and Tail features split-screen multiplayer, which is a very smart idea for a game such as this. When your play session’s length is entirely determined by how matched you are in your skill level against your opponent I can see that being a really smart way to play against like-minded friends. Sadly I didn’t get the opportunity to try this out, but if it’s anything like the campaign it’ll be one hell of a challenge.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes