I was always interested in the Dark Future series and Blood Red States makes me wish they did a new tabletop version.
However as I was playing I found a game that mimics the tabletop wargame concept and if you don’t play it as such, you will lose.
When I played the game I found it a little weird that the game was rolling real-time. Even when I learned that there was a time slowing mechanic that allowed you to make decisions in a more relaxed way, it still felt that I should have been playing it at top speed like the new Fallout games.
So what changed my mind? This only came out after playing two missions very early in the game where I was playing two cars. One was a breakthrough mission where I chose to take a second car and another was an escort mission.
The first one was a disaster, I found myself struggling to play a game of chess at 160mph. However the second one was a lot more interesting and the way I played it… actually better to describe it.
So the escort car was locked at a maximum speed of either 140 or 160 meaning I couldn’t just accelerate through BUT it gave me an advantage that if I wanted to slow down to deal with threats before they reached the escort car, then it was possible to do so.
After setting match speed to the escort car’s speed we drove down the road and came up against the first intercept force. I paused the game, prepared the Escort Car to move into the far right lane, pulled my car into the left lane, and target locked the nearest threat.
Then I restarted… waited for the turret to lock on and pounded the threat with everything I could. I then accelerated ahead of the second threat and dropped pursuit bombs.
I then paused again to deal to lock a third threat that appeared in front of me. Swung in lane behind it and smoked the car.
The next cars intentionally went ahead of us; so I paused again, set the escort car to decelerate and let me past. Put a target lock on the car and attacked.
I then had the escort car accelerate as a second car we’d left in the dust found it’s speed and I dealt with both cars before boosting the car forward to catch up with the escort car.
So for those that play Warhammer 40K, you’ll know the pattern of turns, for those that don’t:
While Dark Future isn’t 40K there is a feeling of turn based strategy. Lets go through it.
Matching speed with the Escort was effectively deployment, deciding where I wanted to be in relation to the escort car at the start of the mission.
When the first enemies appeared, I shifted to the planning screen and moved the Escort and my car where I wanted them, I also established the target lock, like you can do in Star Wars X-Wing, and moved to the next phase.
I waited until the turret turned and went on the offensive, putting my weapons exactly where I wanted them. All of this done in real time.
Now I’ve dealt with the first threat, I needed to establish where the second threat is and deal with it, reacting to the remaining cars on the field. Note you can only act once when you’re outnumbered and you react to the threat that you couldn’t deal with immediately.
This may sound weird but think of how the new Xcom 2 game is; you set up for a few clean shots and after that, you must react to the threat that comes along.
After that, you repeat the Move, Attack, React process over and over until the end of the mission as new waves hit.
Dark Future captures the concept of turn based strategy in a real time strategy game. Having the ability to slow time down to a crawl adds an element to the game that allows speed in slow motion.