Tooth and Tail

Genre: RTS
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

About The game

To get your attention right away: Tooth and Tail is a competitive indie RTS. The backstory of the game is revolution in an animal world: animals revolt against other animals.

The game essentially addresses the issue with most rts games, where high skill level is necessary to even start thinking about competitive play. The most radical change is that you can’t scroll the map freely. You control a commander unit that you can move directly (keyboard/mouse or gamepad), this unit scouts the map, orders the other units and places buildings. Here’s how it is handled: your initial building, gristmill, has spot for 8 farms. You have 3 farms in the beginning of the game. Each farm costs 60 food to build and produces 1 food per second. As game progresses, new gristmills on the map can be captured.

You can build defensive buildings, new farms or “lairs” for the animals. The lairs automatically produce soldiers (while your supplies last), and you can then order those units around either by commanding them all or by selecting a specific unit type. The unit commands are pretty much straightforward: button click can mean attack, holding the mouse button while highlighting the enemy makes everyone focus it, or running away and keeping the mouse button pressed means your army retreats with you.

In total, there are 15 unit types and 5 defensive buildings. You pick 6 of these in any variation before the multiplayer battle, thus adjusting your strategy for every battle separately.

Pros and Cons

At the state of the previous patch (1.0.3) – on my ranks it felt that the game has the “rush meta” – I could win most games by building small units, but I’ve checked out the tournament videos and they showed much more elaborate plays.
Overall, the game matches are extremely short and intense. I personally never had a game longer than 8 minutes.

The aesthetics are the strong point of the game. The pixel art is cartoonish, but once you think about this, it gets pretty brutal. It is implied that the animals eat meat of others, which adds a cannibalistic feel to the game. Some might tell you: Vladimir, wait a second, in the animal world it’s called “carnivorous”. To that, I can answer: “The animals in the game have anthropomorphic features, so you can’t distance yourself from looking at them from the human angle.” So in the end, the game that is light on the art implies heavier subjects, making a unique dark atmosphere.

The drawback to this is that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between walkable and unwalkable tiles. You’ll be getting stuck with your hero, simply because some places that seem to be passable turn out not (mostly in bushy tilesets, gets quite extreme in singleplayer, especially the mission where you have to free multiple squads of your soldiers).

All maps (even in single-player campaign) are generated randomly. That means that a lot of matches in single-player will be made easier if you get lucky. In competitive you can get screwed because of that, but it surprisingly does not bother you much: first, it teaches you how to adapt better. Second, if you are placed at a worse position than your opponent and lose: no big deal, it only took 5 minutes.

Summary

The strongest point of the game is the entry threshold: if you enjoy watching RTS games, but can’t get into competitive scene because those games require lots of concentration / time to get good, Tooth And Tail might be a good alternative. Since you control one commander, it takes the pressure off micromanaging tons of units / controlling the minimap / bases like crazy. You can start the games quickly, quickly win or quickly lose. The amount of strategies and possible plays still big due to unit variety and strategical decisionmaking (expansion vs offense). Overall, I can safely recommend Tooth and Tail to both RTS fans and people who are willing to get into the genre.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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