This week’s Under Your Radar covers the strategy game known as War of the Human Tanks, also known as Charge! Human Tanks (Totsugeki! Ningen Sensha). It is a Japanese indie game by Yakiniku Oh! Yeah! and localised by Fruitbat Factory as their first release. It has been made avaliable in a handful of indie bundles, as well as direct sales, Nyu Media, and popular online distribution platforms for $10.
The game follows the story of Shoutaro Daihon’ei, who’s a master strategist and captain of the imperial fourth armoured corps, which was put on the sidelines until the events of the series begin. Japan is currently in an all-out war using human tanks, human-shaped weaponry with stupid AI and immense loyalty for their masters. Your side is losing. Simple enough, right?
Gameplay involves moving your human tanks around a grid in pseudo-real-time gameplay. Each tank model has different specs that determine things such as time between movements, view distance and attack range, with some models being larger than one space. Such human tanks work as normal and remain alive until they’re hit in every space. You win by taking out all enemy command tanks (and lose if the same happens to you or you run out of time).
This would normally be very quick and easy, but the view distance mechanic makes it more complex. Aside from units that can scan areas ahead of you, you can only generally see stuff within a few spaces of each of your current units. Whether one rushes into battle or sends a bunch of scouts and hits things with units that have long-range missiles is left up to the player. Still, the game was very easy to pick up.
There’s one problem I have with the gameplay, however. One level of the game, generally before you’d have access to larger units, you have to destroy a train. I lost due to time solely because it took me forever to realize that the train was two rows tall, because not only is the art style ambiguous about it, I had not been introduced to the existence of other large units yet, for which being 2 rows tall is standard.
Speaking of the art style, the game’s realistic backgrounds (during story parts, anyway) really clash with the chibi art style used for the characters. That’s a more personal complaint, but it really lowered my opinion of the game, as the backgrounds honestly looked too much like a low-res picture and made the game feel cheap and hastily made. From what I understand, they’re actually hand-drawn, but you could’ve fooled me.
Outside of the levels, flow is simple. You start in a set-up window where you can pay in-game money to unlock new tank models or buy more tanks of already-unlocked models, among other things. Then you can start a chapter, leading to the opening that I put at the top of this post (every chapter, as if it was an anime), the story being given to you in visual novel style, another set-up screen that won’t let you unlock new models but will let you set up your formation for the battle, the battle itself, any story needed to end the chapter off, then the end credits (again, every chapter), rinse and repeat. Aside from the opening and ending themes getting annoying after a while, there’s really nothing wrong with that.
There are supposedly multiple endings, but, from what I gather, they involve beating some ridiculously difficult bonus fights. As such, I haven’t seen any alternate ones, but I’m satisfied with the ending I saw. The story has no glaring issues, but isn’t too revolutionary either.
War of the Human Tanks is currently on Steam Greenlight.
Everything about this game is average or better except for the art. The art may be off-putting to you if you’re like me, but the rest of the game is definitely worth the $10.
If you like a good strategy game, this is definitely worth grabbing.