The Anacrusis is an online four player co-op scifi FPS similar to recent games like Back 4 Blood and GTFO but has a fun late-60s to mid-70s sci-fi aesthetic, a simple instantly understandable UI and gameplay that mostly functions as intended. The game checks a lot of the basic boxes that a game like this needs to ensure a successful trip across the universe. As groovy as the aesthetic may be, I couldn’t help wishing that they had leaned into it a bit more, the character designs fit the bill but basically none of their personalities reflect anything proprietary to the setting, you could plop them into any other game like this and it would work about the same, same goes for the lifeless mission structures and generic enemy types there’s really nothing that stands out with any of the objectives throughout the game’s handful of missions, as if the developers gave up on being original before they even began crafting them, this isn’t helped by the levels not being particularly good at illustrating where you’re supposed to go next and the fact that the AI for your teammates isn’t very good, good luck trying to get past some of the game’s moments that require multiple players to press a button at the same time with a team of NPCs, sometimes they cooperate and sometimes they don’t.
I will give praise to the game’s weapons though, it’s a relatively small arsenal but the weapons do feel like they belong here, the pastel accents on the guns themselves understated, but fun sound effects and the playful color palettes of their gunfire all keep them serviceably fun to use, though despite the cool weapons The Anacrusis too often abandons its own potential for most of what lies beneath its candy coating. Our experience with the game has been mostly acceptable, we rarely experienced any major network issues or crashing, the frame rate does dip a bit more than we would like though keep in mind this is still in Early Access, I wouldn’t be surprised if that got smoothed over soon considering the somewhat simplistic art style and lack of super demanding effects.
I do appreciate the AFK mode you can use to temporarily let an NPC fill in for you so nobody has to hold up the rest of the team but things like that only count for so much if people aren’t playing the game and therein lies the biggest crime The Anacrusis commits. I can absolutely see the art style and general simplicity being the main reasons for some players to choose it over other games and I wouldn’t blame them for doing so as you could certainly do worse in the genre but most players who have been around the cooperative squad shooter block a few times will likely be left wanting more in too many areas for this to be particularly recommendable at this moment.
Overall, despite its few neat ideas The Anacrusis misses a lot of opportunities to put enough of a spin on the format or introduce enough suspense to really stand toe-to-toe with the other behemoths of this increasingly crowded genre, this is not to say that it doesn’t have a few things going for it nor is it to say that it can’t be fun at times, there’s a reason that so many games are still emulating the Left 4 Dead formula, even the worst iterations of it from the past few years can still deliver some enjoyable sessions especially if you’re teaming up with your buddies.