Apparently this is some doujin game sold at comiket or something and I got a chance to try out some review build or something because of some marketer emailing me, and hey that technically means I count as “Press” in someone’s eyes doesn’t it? E3 AND LOWER BADGE PRICES AT ANIME EXPO HERE I COME. Well, not really, but whatever. I figure why the hell not write something, I actually used to review doujin games regularly a few times a week when I first started this blog.
War of the Human Tanks is a tactical strategy type of game on a grid, kind of like a less graphical Advance Wars – only in this case all your units are moe girls that are also…well, tanks!
The graphics are adorable, and while not hugely detailed, are pretty nice and moe. They also are varied, which, given it’s an indie game, I really didn’t expect. If you look at say Recettear or CTHCC they really went with the bare minimum for character art – however here there’s much a much larger amount of character art and portraits, while in exchange there’s not really any real background art; instead it’s like some certain VNs in that the backgrounds are filtered real images. The art style of the characters reminds me of Yurumates. I’m sure there are other things it’s close with too, but for me that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Not the awful 3D show they made, but the original 2D OVA.
The writing is lighthearted, fun, and cute, so far at least. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all and it makes this kind of game a little more fun having that aspect, it’s even got anime references every now and then. The main character you play as is a lieutenant in Japon’s (yeah, Japon) military who spends most of his time being lazy and watching anime, he even stops on the way to a big battle to buy some ice cream for him and his advisors. Your second in command is a silly moe and likes to tinker with the human tanks and make them extra cute by putting accessories on them and styling their hair – or turning them into designs based on anime she watches with the MC. The first human tank introduced is also kind of a dunce. (Silly moe and the first human tank are in the pic up there).
It does get a little sad sometimes so far, not much, but it’s there. The human tanks are pretty much just moe girl robots created for various combat roles, but in terms of how they look they simply look the same as anyone else for the most part. On top of that, they have personalities, intellect, everything a human would – not as MUCH as a human, but it’s there and they even miss their dead tank squadmates and friends. The game deals with this right at the start actually. So, really, every time a unit dies it’s less “human tank” and more like a cute girl being killed on the battlefield and all her friends being well aware of it to boot, and that they might be next. It’s not so much that this is done in any especially touching, depressing, or worth mentioning way on it’s own – it’s just not something I expected from the game, it seemed like something it would skirt around instead of focus on right off the bat.
As for the gameplay, well first off, there IS a lot of dialogue. This is more of a visual novel with some fun gameplay than a game with some visual novel aspects. And for the record, there’s no porn or anything, I don’t mean it’s like VNs in that way. And, while the battles are becoming longer and more challenging and balancing it out between battles and story, the first ones get done so fast that it feels like the intro is strictly text so I’m hoping they take a bit more time and thinking as you get on, and from what I’ve seen since that first battle it does seem to be going in that direction. I can’t say with an actually fun game that it’s too nice having to go through forever long of dialogue between each gameplay section. I’m used to visual novels and even just typical JRPGs with lots and lots of dialogue, but the game feels like it starts out too slow and my first taste of it was enjoyable but barely touches the actual gameplay at all, leaving you going through a lot of dialogue before getting to play around on the battlefield again.
The battles themselves are pretty fun, though took me a little bit to fully grasp how they work. It seems like a real time strategy game designed like a turn based strategy game mixed with a few confusing things like ‘connecting’ to the tanks which seemed to just happen on its own over time. You get different types of tanks seen below;
It’s grid based strategy and each of these tanks will have a different ability. The scout for example can recon nearby enemies, but then there are also special units (such as a scout that can recon anywhere on the map, as well as a massive cannon carrying loli that can blast anywhere on the map and kill just about anything with one hit…though it’s gone soon after you use it) plus you can upgrade your units throughout the game to be more capable and useful.The way you upgrade them is a big part of strategy too of course, and once you’ve got that and the further in battles from just the first couple, strategy actually becomes important. Which can really screw you over if you prepare wrong – as you actually make the tanks your battles beforehand rather than it handing you x amount of y type, you have to pick and choose based on your available resources, modules/upgrades, and the amount the mission allows you to send, what to make and send out. Not only that, but you also have to place them on the map accordingly, and again, if you fuck it up during planning, you’re going to be in a really bad position once things get going and possibly entirely not prepared.
The first battle you can win without moving a single spot due to some story reasons, however it does get challenging from there. Also, the battles are like in Advance Wars where when you attack or are attacked you get a little animation of whatever is going down to watch, you can turn them off but I like that sort of thing.
Overall, it’s actually pretty fun and the characters are interesting enough to keep it from getting boring between fights, and the fights themselves are actually pretty challenging and involve a lot of strategy beforehand especially the further in you get. They have a demo, or will at least (link at the end) and I’d say it’s at least worth checking out. I think the main point that will decide for someone if it’s worth paying for or not is how they feel about the balance of gameplay to dialogue. For me, I like it quite a bit so I’ll probably buy it at some point – especially if it ends up on Steam. I like supporting indie Japanese games being released in the west, so I’ll likely be adding this to my collection.
Though, at least in this build – it plays the ending credits out of nowhere after every post-battle discussion. I’m assuming it’s something that’s not supposed to happen and will be fixed for the real version, there’s no way they’d miss this plus you can skip with a click so it’s such a nonexistent deal as it is, it wouldn’t matter if they removed it or not, so whatever.
It’s being brought over to the west and localized into English by a new localization group called Fruitbat Factory that, like several other semi-recent groups, is focused on bringing over Japanese Indie games for those who don’t know the language and miss out on a pretty good amount of fun or unique games.
I’m unaware if this will be available on steam or anywhere aside the official site, which you can find both the site and a demo on the 4th, here – http://fruitbatfactory.com/humantanks/