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Review: Antihero – superbly paced strategy board game

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Developer: Versus Evil
Price: $5/£5
Size: 158MB
Version: 1.0.15
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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Versus Evil has created something quite special in Antihero: a digital board game that will appeal to those who don’t normally like digital board games.

With an inviting art style, compelling world, snappy action and top-notch production values, Antihero is a real romp of a strategy game. It’s got ‘crossover hit’ written all over it.

Antihero’s foggy levels need to be scouted

The game’s setting is irresistible. You play a master thief in a cartoon-fantasy take on Victorian London. These narrow streets are thick with fog, hiding potential burglary hotspots, crooked churches, rowdy pubs and prowling thugs.

Your goal is to form a thieves guild with which to loot, bribe, and assassinate your way to victory. You can clear that aforementioned fog by scouting around, which uses up one of your two action points each turn. Looting and attacking human targets also take up an action point.

Gangs are super-powerful, but can be countered with an Assassin

While you can spend the game’s precious lantern currency upping your master thief’s action point allotment, you’ll really need to set to work recruiting a gang. Each member brings their own movement potential and specialist skill set.

Urchins can earn you extra currency by occupying special buildings, thugs can block off roads, gangs can clobber opponents, and saboteurs can set traps for rival thieves, to name just four. Each recruited member costs a certain amount of coins, which can be obtained through burglary and other nefarious means.

Truant Officers are the bane of Urchins

As we’ve just alluded to, you won’t be running the streets unopposed. There’s another master thief out there gunning for the same targets as you – either AI-controlled in the entertaining Campaign mode or human controlled in the Online mode. Either way, it’s a strategic race to the finish line as you both strive to collect the required number of points for victory.

If we were to pick one slight fault, it’s that Antihero’s detailed world can seem a little cramped on iPhone. Playing on an iPhone X in particular, we found that some important pop-up controls would get cut off by the top of the screen. Still, it’s far from a game-breaker, and there’s a pinch-to-zoom function when you want to get a better overview.

Campaign gives you a range of rival thieves to beat

Special mention really needs to go to Antihero’s single-player mode. In many digital board games this is treated as a bit of an afterthought, a simple replication of the main multiplayer mode but with AI opponents. Here it’s a fully structured campaign involving a colorful cast of characters and a simple but enjoyable plot.

If you do opt to take on real-life opponents, Antihero offers the ability to play ‘live’ or a more drawn out (and convenient) to-and-fro affair. Either way, multiplayer matches contain a considerable range of strategic options. There are multiple ways to obtain the required victory points, and multiple ways to scupper the chances of a seemingly dominant opponent.

Despite these strategic permutations, Antihero never gets bogged down or loses its forward momentum. It’s a jolly rush of a digital board game, and one that’s both accessible and rewarding enough to win over an army of new fans.