Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wasted Land review

Being the proud owner of an iPad I couldn't resist downloading The Wasted Land, the new Call of Cthulhu-inspired adventure game, that raised its ugly head on the app store recently. A trip to Ireland also bought me some valuable time to play-test it.

The Wasted Land takes place in 1915, and at least starts in the trenches on the Western Front. We've been here before, of course, with Chaosium's No Man's Land one shot adventure for the RPG. Anyone who has seen the film The Trench will recognise the potential that the horrors of the Western Front hold for horror gaming.

Wasted Land is very reminiscent of, amongst others, Space Hulk, the old Spectrum wargame Laser Squad, and more recently Tactical Soldier - Undead Rising, also on the iPad. You control a small cadre of characters, all of whom have a limited number of action points to spend each turn. You have to complete a series of missions in order to progress with the campaign.

The story begins in a trench - natch - with three British soldiers being briefed by a Miskatonic University professor who strangely looks like a Sikh, despite sporting an Anglo Saxon name. The British have an officer and two tommies armed with rifles. The first mission sees a posse of German soldiers enter the trench network. As with Space Hulk, you can creep along the trenches, seeking to shoot down your foes. Unlike Space Hulk, your soldiers can climb out of the trenches, but then lose their cover advantage.

The professor and the British officer come armed with pistols, allowing them around three shots per round if they don't move, while the grunts can only get in one shot per round. However, you are often forced to move and shoot, and this is when you need to consider carefully whether your characters can cover each other. I found they could, but there were times when wounded soldiers were banking on their mates to take down the enemy in order to continue. Tense stuff.

Having cleared the trench of Germans, I was then promptly attacked in a wave assault that consisted of German regulars first, followed by elite stormtroopers (historically a couple of years early, but hey ho), and then cultists - namely German soldiers in natty black uniforms carrying sabres. Despite their lack of firearms, their souped up hit points made them tough to take down. They looked more like the members of some esoteric Prussian sabre fraternity - obviously ideal breeding grounds for followers of the Great Old Ones!

Finally, the enemy having been driven off, my trench gets overrun by more hard-as-nails cultists. The British are forced to abandon the trench and make off over no man's land. I've tried to move from crater to crater to take advantage of cover and stop the enemy snipers from taking my men down, but that has failed me twice. I'm now mulling an outright dash across no man's land to escape. The problem is, if you lose either the army officer or the professor, the game fails you. It is imperative that they be kept alive.

Healing is available in the form of medical packs, but these have to be applied by your comrades - costing valuable action points. You can't heal yourself, unfortunately. Again, like covering fire, this forces you to think tactically about your AP expenditure.

Thus far, it's been quite entertaining, and I shall be returning to it. This really is Space Hulk on the iPad, with Cthulhu painted on top of it. More on The Wasted Land when I get a chance to play a bit further in the campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment