If you dared think, even for a second, that gaming’s love-in with ’80s iconography and stylisation was over, then Reptilian Rising will see you in its office. This bodacious tabletop-inspired tactics game isn’t content to just whack some fuzzy VHS scanlines and CRT filters over 16-bit graphics either, and goes a whole lot further in evoking some seriously retro feels (in a way that fans of legendary Adult Swim show Robot Chicken would most definitely approve of).
For a start, it’s stylised to look like an actual 80s tabletop game, complete with weirdly painted plasticky-looking miniatures that have been animated in a claymation style and boards that appear to be sitting on tabletops in basements and man-caves–illuminated by those flexi-neck desk lamps and surrounded by paraphernalia like graph paper, tape recorders and half-empty packs of potato chips (y’know, 80s stuff!). All this is backed a smooth synthy soundtrack by Samplify, which will make it feel like you’re riding a DeLorean into a neon-soaked sunset against a parallax sky.
The plot is simple: Reptilians (i.e. dinosaurs armed with guns, lasers and other weaponry from across the ages) are on the attack, threatening humanity across seven distinct time periods represented by beautifully realised board-game environments–from ancient Egyptian ruins filled with anthropomorphic crocodile guardians, to heinous science labs where you might find yourself facing off against the Dictatorsaur, a three-headed beast featuring the heads of history’s biggest dics (that’s short for ‘dictator,’ obviously).
(Image credit: Gregarious Games)
So how do you combat such heinous threats? Why, on a turn-based grid of course, and with a squad of veritable (and completely unrelated) historical badasses such as Einstein, Cleopatra, Winston Churchill and Robin Hood. If you recognise some of the voices, that’s because some of them are performed by veteran voice actor Marc Silk (of Bob the Builder, Star Wars: Episode 1, and Chicken Run fame, among many others).
Each hero brings their own flavour of nonsense to the tabletop, inviting you to strategise and synergise their unique abilities to bring about the biggest dino destruction since an asteroid wiped them off this Earth, or they farted the atmosphere into oblivion, or whatever extinction narrative you choose to go by.
The point is that these charmingly claymationed dinosaurs have made a comeback, and they’ve got to go. Reptilian Rising lets you do it with a kitsch panache that would get a big thumbs-up and a gleaming-toothed smile from Bruce Campbell. Use the timey-wimey mechanics to your advantage, creating clones of your favourite heroes (Spartacus Squad, anyone?) or summoning time-gates to change your angle of attack and keep your enemies on their grossly beclawed toes.
(Image credit: Gregarious Games)
If the board game stylings are pleasingly retro, then the roguelike element is decidedly modern. Each run is randomised, with different board layouts, obstacles, challenges, and different heroes for you to take out into the field. The replayability–like most of the game–really is out of this world!
And in case the crack squad of heroes at your disposal has got you thinking of fantasy matchups such as, say, Spartacus vs Robin Hood or a ‘Wartime Leaders’ showdown between FDR and Churchill, you’ll be stoked to hear that you can take things to the interweb and set up online PvP battles to face off whoever you want against each other.
All of that sounds pretty fantabulous, but if the info overload blows your mind like that newscaster guy from 80s Cronenberg classic Scanners, then just head over to the game’s Steam page and try out the demo for yourself. Reptilian Rising is expected to come out this fall, and you can wishlist it now.