War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR Review

A look at Fruitbat Factory’s indie strategy with visual novel elements, available now for PC on Steam.

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR for PC

I’ve said time and time again that one of my favorite things about reviewing indie games is that I never know quite what I’m getting into. Watching the anime-inspired intro for War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR, I was left wondering what kind of game it was I’d be getting into. A deeply detailed story and curious play style highlight the best parts of this interesting, if somewhat simplistic, strategy game. How does the gameplay hold up while telling this story, though? And just what exactly is a human tank, anyway?

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR follows the exploits of Alter, a privilege-born girl and lieutenant in the Royal Army of the Kingdom of Japon. With the aid of powerful battle-ready robots called Human Tanks, Alter must make headway against the Empire of Japan and their bid for control over the land. Most of the story is told in a visual novel style, rich with character history drama interlaced between the overall tale of war, struggle, and identity. A diverse — and, frankly, adorable — cast of humans and Human Tanks bring much more to the game than simple battles.

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR Alter Matsuyukishiro

Our heroine, Alter Matsuyukishiro, is a largely immature but capable commander. While it takes some concerted effort on the part of her allies to keep her focused, once battle begins, she is ruthless and effective.

The battles in War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR are very simplistic and straightforward. You’ll assemble your army of Human Tanks using resources collected by completing battles. Choose your deployment, and then it’s time to get to the meat of it. At your disposal are a wide variety of Tanks, including versatile Assault Tanks with decent firing range, kamikaze-style Shock Tanks that explode to destroy nearby enemies, and scouting Recon Tanks to unveil more of the battlefield. Your view in battle is limited to hexes adjacent to your units, so scanning the area with these helpful units is a must if you’re going to succeed.

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR Shock Tank

Admittedly, the screen is pretty busy when you’ve got a unit selected. Stats along the left show you what your unit can do, and available actions are listed below.

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR offers exceedingly simple conditions for victory, as well. Whichever army can dispatch the enemy Command Tank first is awarded the win; additional resources are gained for complete destruction of opposition forces. Any attack against any Tank results in the destruction of that Tank, so keeping your Command Tank at the rear is a vital ploy if you’re hoping to advance. With such a limited field of view during battle, and such a basic play style, things can get pretty hectic as you worry about keeping your own army alive while seeking out the enemy.

War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR Cutscene

The game’s story is largely told in cutscenes like this one. Text speed can be adjusted to suit your needs, which is always a touch I appreciate.

While War of the Human Tanks: ALTeR probably isn’t in-depth enough for hardcore strategy fans, it’s got a certain charm and the novel-style story and human drama inserted through it add a wonderful depth to the experience. With plenty of missions, which are also repeatable for additional resources or fun, and a multi-level side mission in the Great Cavern of Fuji, there’s more than enough content to justify the Steam price of $12.99. While I’d certainly say it’s not for everyone, those with a passing interest in strategy games and visual novel fans will find the simple style welcoming, and the story engaging. If either of these fit you, I’d recommend it; if you’re looking to test out the idea for a slightly smaller cost, the game’s prequel is also available on Steam for $9.99.

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