This generation, with the exception of a few games, Real-time Strategy has taken a sort of backseat. Rogue-likes, arcade action, and shooters have taken the center stage among the big line up of games. However, when an RTS does come into the spotlight, it is truly something special. Taking to this spotlight is a very distinctive game, with a profound presentation and solid gameplay mechanics. This is Tooth and Tail by developer Pocket Watch Games. Tooth and Tail was playable at the PlayStaiton booth at Pax East in Boston Massachuessets. Seeing an opening, I took an opportunity to check it out.
I was greeted by a leading community member, known as Glyde. He had been assisting with the game, as well as helping to establish a community to which players could lend their feedback into the game’s mechanics and attributes. Glide would guide me into playing the game.
Initially, I dared and immediately attempted to play the game on medium difficulty, to which I was quickly and brutally defeated by the enemy. Following that embarrassment, Glyde brought me back to the beginning and allowed me to focus on the early parts of the game step by step.
Tooth and Tail is described as an arcade RTS, where the characters are all anthropomorphic woodland creatures or animals that look similar to humans and can stand upright. From foxes to wolves to rats and lizards, Tooth and Tail is a game that lives up to its title. At the start screen, players can choose their character and the A.I opponent. From there, I was set on the battlefield.
Players take the role of a commander, who waves the flag all over the battlefield. Players are free to navigate, build, and command across the field. Your biggest objective is to secure farms. Farms will allow you to grow crops, reap them, and earn cash to which to build your forces. Upon earning enough money, players can build their first units.
My first units were a series of lizards, with basic offensive firepower. Using simple controls, I was able to rally the lizards, then assault a nearby farm. I was able to take my first farm and secure it to construct more units. I would occasionally see the enemy commander who would try absolutely everything to form units at the edges of my farms. I ordered my units to attack and kill the commander. The commander has unlimited lives, but death involves an excruciatingly long wait of a few seconds for respawn, which can mean the difference between victory and defeat in this particular game.
I continued to construct units further including eagles with bombs and machines guns. As my basic forces built up, I had a sizeable army mounted for the battlefield. I continued to trek through the fog of war, breaking down the haze and realizing more enemy positions. The carnage was over-the-top. This would be a good time to use a pun and say that the fur really flew on this one.
Enemy creatures were shredded, explosions flew across the board, and yells of war echoed throughout the experience. Gunfire, bombs, gas and other sounds were the audio cues of woodland war. Visually, the game had a hyper-pixelated look, but the color scheme seemed oddly familiar. As I was playing, I mentioned to Glyde that Tooth and Tail reminded me of a Don Bluth film from the 1980’s, The Secret of Nimh. Glyde confirmed that as a matter of fact the movie was a primary source of inspiration for the game. As someone with a fondness for animated films, especially from Don Bluth, it was quite exciting to have heard that particular confirmation.
I proceed to destroy more farms, but then a silence befalls the field. I had to find their primary farm in order to win the match. It was a bit difficult at first, but I eventually found it. I called upon more forces, including skunks with gas masks and poisonous offensive gas, as well as armed squirrels. I proceed to lead my band of armed creature into the enemy camp. The bad guys never stood a chance.
In the chaos, I did notice how each character has a different assortment of units. My character called upon more rodent creatures, while the bad guys were led by what I assume was more of a mountain lion. Each main leader will have their own unique units to choose from in the ensuing battles, making the gameplay experience simple yet quite strategic.
With that, my demo ended. I was treated to an illustrated image of my army celebrating their victory in cheer and libations. Glyde complimented me, as I seemed to have maintained a handle on the game. I have no idea what it would take to conquer the game on higher difficulties, but perhaps the road will not be too difficult. Tooth and Tail is created in a way that is easy-to-learn but hard to master.
Tooth and Tail will be released at the end of the year on PlayStation 4.