Hands-on: Attack on Titan features surprising strategic depth

I approached the Attack on Titan demo at E3 expecting the title to play a lot like Dynasty Warriors since it's developed by Omega Force. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game requires strategy, rather than just button mashing, to actually hit the Titans. I'd have to throw out everything learned from Dynasty Warriors.

Attack on assumptions

Set during the first season of the show, Attack on Titan retells key moments from the macabre anime. The narrative pretty much sticks to the first season’s events, from what I’ve been told, but there are a few side missions that show events from the perspective of other characters. The demo had three scenarios: one as military member Mikasa on the ground, another as a Titan, and a training scenario.

I chose to play as a military member and thought I would be done with the demo quickly, but found that I couldn't quite damage any enemies despite running up to the Titans and attacking. It was then that I started paying attention and saw that there was a heavy emphasis on momentum and gaining enough speed before coming into contact with an enemy to be able to do any damage.

Then I found out there was a boost meter I could have used on the ground that I depleted before I noticed the momentum of Mikasa was causing damage to the Titans. There went that plan.

Can’t she just run fast enough?

To gain momentum when not having any boost left, I had to use my grappling hooks to speed between buildings and somehow get close enough in the middle of this to inflict damage on any of the Titans. By chance I defeated one, but then another two appeared in the midst of the townspeople I was supposed to be protecting. As with Nioh, it was here that I gave up and decided to go into training.

Zipping around to kill giants

I grasped the gameplay a bit more after running through the training, but the momentum needed before causing any damage turned me off still. There was a lot of thought necessary in order to set up an attack, and I didn't have long enough to play to really figure it out. The grappling hooks can be used to zip between buildings or even towards the Titans, but I didn't seem to be able to control them as well as I would have liked. Defeating the Titans in the series requires slicing the nape of the neck, which is ideal in the game, but was difficult to pull off while they were running towards me.

I also felt like I was in an extreme sports title from the late 90s at times.

Sure, I was zipping between buildings, but was on edge because I didn't want any of the citizens to get eaten by the Titans. This is one series that doesn't skimp on details when it comes to death. The Titans even grabbed my character a few times, and I was relieved that it was easy to escape their grasp, unlike in the anime.

Zipping around too much to smell the flowers

There were a few things I noticed that I wasn't able to figure out: items and teamwork. There were other military soldiers running around, but when I tried to have them assist, I didn't see anything happen. There was also the scenario with the playable Titan that I didn't even get around to trying, so hopefully it doesn’t require momentum.

I look forward to trying these out when the full game comes out in August and I can sit down with the game and truly figure it out. Attack on Titan is an interesting action game, and with its zipline attack system, it may be the closest we will get to a Spiderman game before Insomniac's PS4 title.