PAX: Antihero Turns Dickensian Thievery into Turn-Based Strategy

At E3 in 2015, Versus Evil had what appeared to be an incredibly strong lineup as an indie publisher, with titles like The Banner Saga 2 and The Guild of Dungeoneering on display. Unfortunately, their reputation took a slight blow later with an underperforming Armikrog and…well, the less said about Afro Samurai 2, the better. Thankfully, their PAX West lineup let us know that a couple of mishaps won’t deter them from helping to deliver some unique indie games to the public, and the game that arguably showcased this most was developer Tim Conkling’s nineteenth-century turn-based strategy game, Antihero.

Based around the concept of running your own thieves’ guild, Antihero has you competing against rival thieves to see who can complete the most tasks when it comes to running an efficient guild, be it assassinating high-profile targets, blackmailing the upper crust, or simply just straight up bribing the powers that be into helping give you a win condition. It’s the type of strategy game that allows and encourages you to try out multiple kinds of tactics, which is always welcome in games such as these. The demo provided a peek as to how things play out, with your Master Thief having to scout out the foggy streets, spot a building, and burgle it for money. Or perhaps see about hiring urchins to infiltrate businesses you discover for a perpetual pickpocket-based cash source. And you can use that money to hire thugs to clear the way or hold off enemies, with gang leaders that you can have lead them for more power.

The eclectic mix of play styles Antihero has the potential for (helped out by a wide variety of regular upgrades that you can add each turn) makes it a particularly attractive game indeed, along with the eye-catching visual style if offers. It honestly somewhat looks like something you would find in a game developed by Klei, but the cartoonish style works quite perfectly in adding personality to the game, nicely contrasting with the Victorian-era setting, with its detailed architecture, puckish orphans, and darkened, lantern-lit streets (which also hide your opponent’s moves, adding an additional layer of strategy to the mix as you deduce what they’re up to).

It all makes for quite the stylish strategy game indeed, with some board game elements that make it slightly reminiscent of the aforementioned Guild of Dungeoneering, which was a game I personally enjoyed quite a bit. But Antihero is a unique and ambitious game of its own that captures the days of cutpurses, crossbows, and mustache-twirling quite nicely, and the multiplayer elements it also has should be a blast to try out. Antihero is set to come out soon for the PC and mobile devices, so there should be no escaping the sudden rash of (admittedly damn fun) thievery it’s set to deliver.