A successor to the popular FPS game, “Battlefield 1,” this title will provide a more in-depth experience with an expanded single player campaign and new multiplayer modes.

The Anacrusis Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the

The Anacrusis Early Access Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the Soul

I blast my way up eleven levels, passing erstwhile fellow humans who have been enslaved by nefarious aliens who have taken up permanent residence on their heads. Despite the short distance, seeing the two buttons that summon the elevator that should whisk me closer to safety gives me a sense of comfort, until I realize I’ve had to go through another defensive sequence, this time with less freedom to move.

One of my AI companions jumps into the abyss below as I attempt to traverse the little slope into the narrow circular hallway ahead of me. A Grabber stretches his hooks, burrows them in my flesh, and drags me towards it, where some good old early access jank causes me to tumble to my doom.

The Anacrusis has taken a close look at what makes Left 4 Dead tick, and although the essential components are all there, the co-op first-person shooter is still in Early Access. The idea is simple: you and three other survivors are stuck aboard a spacecraft, surrounded by swarms of aggressive aliens that have taken over your fellow humans’ bodies.

The Anacrusis Early Access Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the Soul

You must press on with a restricted futuristic armament that includes a plasma rifle, shotgun, and SMG, as well as a few collectable weapons, healing supplies, and gadgets, in search of a way out. The Anacrusis doesn’t have much of a plot in its present condition, however the lackluster banter between its four protagonists does provide some backdrop while scarcely painting any characters.

You’ll spend the bulk of the game blasting your way through swarms of foes while scavenging for weapons, gadgets, and ammunition refill stations, as well as fighting rarer special monsters. The tanky Brute, the Grabber, which immobilizes opponents until slain, the Gooper, who coats you in goo that must be shot off, the Flasher, who blinds everyone a bit too efficiently, and the Spawner, who generates rolling adversaries with a tentacle that fires at you.

The array of enemies is immediately identifiable, but although they’re mechanically distinct, a fair amount of jank, as well as balancing and AI director flaws, ensuring that they’re not very memorable dangers. Whereas the zombies in Left 4 Dead were a constant threat that got more dangerous when an unique adversary was introduced, The Anacrusis’ ordinary adversaries seem like dummies used for target practice.

The Anacrusis Early Access Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the Soul

They move and strike in an uncomfortable manner, making a large portion of the game’s stages seem like protracted tutorials. It’s entertaining at first to try your accuracy with the three primary weapons, which look fantastic and quickly kill non-special opponents if you score headshots but don’t pack a punch.

It doesn’t take long, however, to learn that the bulk of these parts aren’t very difficult, especially when a special or two joins the fray. The AI director then chooses to take things to the next level by pitting you against many specials who masterfully isolate your team members inside an infinite throng of mind-controlled people, thereby ending your run before you have a chance to respond.

The majority of my time was spent playing The Anacrusis with AI-controlled bots. It doesn’t seem like the best way to approach the game right now, since it means I’ll never see the finish of one of the game’s three episodes. They’re divided into parts separated by a safe room where you may reload your weaponry, health, and ammunition before continuing onward, similar to Left 4 Dead.

The AI is largely capable of defeating opponents, but it has a habit of forgetting where it’s intended to go or jumping into pits, whether flaming or not, and embracing sweet death. If you don’t reach your friends before they’re knocked out, you may revive them by setting up a beacon, but this will immediately call a swarm of opponents.

The Anacrusis Early Access Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the Soul

Stations are scattered throughout the levels and give perks that theoretically increase your character’s powers, but they’re so few and far between that their benefits seldom seem useful. Playing with a complete human squad will likely mitigate some of the difficulty spikes, but the main issue is opponent conduct, the amount of damage they deal out, and the AI director, who all fail to emphasize the seriousness of the predicament your team is in.

Instead of feeling scared and outnumbered, my time with The Anacrusis was spent strolling around bright shooting galleries, which ended all too soon when the game recalled its foes were meant to be vicious monsters. It’s aggravating to say the least, but it’s something that should be resolved during early access.

The Anacrusis’ level design alternates between tight passageways and open regions, although it does a lot of shaking up during the course of its three episodes. Its retrofuturistic visual style is also quite welcome in a sub-genre where grays and browns are typically overused. Climbing to the top of the elevator and fending off the horde might easily become an epic conclusion for the first episode if it weren’t for the jank and disappointing deaths.

The Anacrusis Early Access Impressions - Has the Basics, Lacks the Soul

There’s a section where you have to transport an alien tech container across a map while avoiding being irradiated either dumping it or, more likely, passing it around to another player for a time. This sequence was made more difficult than it needed to be since the AI refused to take it up. I’ll never forget discovering that the laser weapon I acquired in a side area lights up combustible stuff by lighting myself and my pals on fire. Unfortunately, there aren’t many more like it out there right now.

The Anacrusis now lacks the suspense, compelling gunplay, and unique opponent encounters that a good co-op shooter requires. As the game enters early access, developer Stray Bombay has a lot of work ahead of it, but with the fundamentals in place, it could just be enough time to help the game find its soul before its targeted Q4 2022 release.

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