Games about revolution and war are not uncommon. Games about revolution and war featuring squirrels? Now there’s an interesting concept.
In High Tale Studios’ Acorn Assault: Rodent Revolution, that’s exactly what you’ll get. The game’s story is based around the French Revolution, if the French Revolution was a war between squirrels. While not an adequate substitute for a history lesson, Acorn Assault’s story will be familiar to anyone with a basic understanding of French history. You play Charles DeMontequirrel, who has grown tired of King Lois the Umpteenth’s “nut tax.”
To defeat the greedy king, you’ll need to win a series of battles that take the form of a turn-based light strategy/match three hybrid. You and your opponent each get a 6 x 5 grid field as well as a base to defend. Each turn, you’ll be assigned five (seemingly random) units – squirrels attack your opponents base and barrels to defend your base from your opponents attack for defense. Once you’ve placed all of your units, your offensive units will attack, then your opponent’s turn will start. From there, you’ll trade turns until one player’s base is destroyed.
As you play, you can also collect acorns to purchase power ups, which are available to buy at the end of your turn. Collecting 200 acorns will allow you to add additional strength to your next attack, provide more defense for the next incoming attack, or restore some of your bases’ health.
The concept may sound simple, but, for a light strategy game, Acorn Assault is surprisingly deep thanks to the match-three mechanic. When you place three of the same unit type next to each other, they’ll combine into a more powerful unit, capable of dealing or taking more damage. This makes the gameplay more like chess, forcing you to plan your strategy several moves ahead. Improper unit placement can cost you in many ways, and one of the most frustrating aspects is when you inadvertently prevent yourself from being able to upgrade your units.
To make things even more interesting, the game also gives each character you face a unique ability, such as “taxing” your acorns at the start of your opponents turn (taking a set amount of the acorns you have) or automatically building stronger defenses. These mechanics are challenging, and a great fit for the story. For example, starting the game with an opponent who benefits from the acorns you earn on your turn perfectly matches the tone of the French Revolution, while also making for some strategy-upsetting turns where you just barely miss out on being able to upgrade your attack or defense.
The story itself isn’t anything spectacular, but it does have a lot of charm. The visuals that consist of squirrels masquerading as French revolutionaries is adorable, and the squirrel-based jokes are enjoyable. Though there are quite a few jokes that Monty Python fans might recognize, some of the humor occasionally falls a little flat. Ultimately, however, the campaign serves as a nice vehicle for learning the game’s mechanics. Unfortunately, the campaign is brief, consisting of five chapters with five battles each. Additionally, the campaign can feel rather repetitive in places, especially in situations where you have to face the same character five times in a row.
The game’s real opportunity to shine comes with its multiplayer component. It features both a local and online multiplayer, starring all of the levels and characters you saw during the campaign. The issue is: it can be difficult to actually get into an online match. This is possibly due to the lack of an online community, but it renders the mode almost useless either way. Local play can be fun if you have friends or family members who are interested in playing the game, but playing against the same people over and over will likely get repetitive (albeit emulating the campaign).
Online or not, multiplayer is refreshing in that it’s less easy to predict a human’s strategy than that of an AI. However, knowing the special abilities of the characters they use will generally tell you what your own strategy should be.
Overall, Acorn Assault is a solid game for those who enjoy light strategy. It’s short, and the online community doesn’t seem to be terribly active, but the gameplay is challenging and enjoyable.
Go nuts for Acorn Assault
Some of the humor falls flat, but Acorn Assault offers deeper than expected strategy thanks to a match-three mechanic.