Möbius Front ’83 review | PC Gamer

Need to know

What is it? An indie spin on hex based wargaming
Expect to pay £15.49/$20
Developer Zachtronics
Publisher Zachtronics
Reviewed on Intel i5, 16gb RAM, Nvidia GTX 1660
Multiplayer? No
Link http://www.zachtronics.com/Möbius-front/

Developer Zachtronics is known for its intricate puzzle games, but in Möbius Front ’83 it’s served up something very different: a modernised take on the niche genre of hardcore hex-based wargames. Even more intriguingly, Möbius Front pits the United States against its most dastardly enemy yet: the United States. No, this isn’t a fifth column uprising but a sci-fi tale of the US being invaded by an alternate reality version of itself.

At least, that’s the elevator pitch. Unfortunately, Möbius Front takes its sweet time to engage with this novel premise, with hours passing before it even acknowledges that this alternate universe exists. The first thing you’ll notice is that the opening chapter is achingly slow, doling out miserly scraps of story in the form of an interrogation of an alt-USA prisoner, alongside fun banter between low level grunts with delightful names like Private Nathan Trucks and Sergeant Benjamin Dancer. Things get more interesting in subsequent chapters as more overt sci-fi elements are introduced, but that whole first chapter is several hours long, and I can imagine a lot of players are going to drop out before things get truly interesting.

Other between-mission activities involve cribbage solitaire with plane spotter cards, reading old Cold War-era military manuals (that are real pdfs you read outside the game) and a puzzle game based around signalling that’s a little closer to Zachtronics’ usual fare. None are especially deep distractions, and I only really dipped a toe into each one before pushing forward, hoping to progress the story.

(Image credit: Zachtronics)

It’s all just a light sprinkling of salt, then, over the meat of the tactical combat. Think of Möbius Front as an attempt to make a modernised, more mainstream version of niche hex-based wargames like Panzer Corps. So there’s no base building here, with units instead selected from a pool and deployed in waves of reinforcements. One mission might start you out with a small troop of infantry, who have to hold out long enough for a tank column to relieve them. Another might give you a big force up front, but no backup. It adds some much needed variety to battles, especially as the maps they take place on are near identical forests—at least until things get weirder in the later chapters. You might be fighting off enemies from a mirror universe, but you’re not fielding identical units. Your options are different, so the alt-USA will get to play with attack helicopters for several missions before you, for instance. 

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