A New, Creepy Game Pass Gem
What happens if the world gets too stupid, too overrun with people who don’t trust science or educators? Well, according to the recently released Research and Destroy, once folks stop trusting science and start believing in every wild theory they find online, the world is actually taken over by supernatural monsters, given life by all the idiots who believe in them. Whoops! But don’t panic. Three smart, deadly scientists are here to fight back all the evil and save the world, one turn at a time.
Released yesterday on Game Pass for Xbox and PC, Research and Destroy is part turn-based XCOM-like strategy game and part third-person action shooter. Each turn, you can freely move all three of your scientists around, exploring, shooting, and traversing the world using controls similar to what you would find in Fortnite. However, you only have about eight seconds before your turn is up. Stop moving and shooting and the clock stops too, letting you carefully consider how you want to use your precious time, but eventually, once that time is up, your character is frozen in place, even in mid-air, until their next turn.
This makes every turn in Research and Destroy exciting, especially when you start getting swarmed by ghouls and ghosts and have to take care to not miss important shots or leave yourself open to supernatural attacks.
It reminded me a lot of Worms, with each turn becoming a chance to pull off a badass and heroic move, or to screw up and watch all your hopes crumble because you made a mistake. And because the game doesn’t use dice rolls to resolve combat, every success and failure is squarely your fault. No pressure!
All the nasty zombies, mummies, trolls, and ghosts you encounter during each mission, and everything else in this game for that matter, are heavily stylized. It looks like a game made out of pages ripped from the EC horror comics vault. In other words, it’s gorgeous, and I often found myself distracted, just moving the free camera around various levels, looking at all the cool detail in the art.
Don’t get too distracted (like me) by all the pretty art and ghoulish enemies, because Research and Destroy can get hard, very fast. All it takes is a few missed shots, one bad ambush, or an explosive barrel going off when you least expect it, and then suddenly you’re on your heels, trying to claw your way to the exit and to victory. Luckily, as you complete missions and take the world back from its evil invaders via a large in-game map, you unlock new weapons, upgrades and gadgets, giving you the edge on even the scariest and nastiest monsters. (Looking at you, sneaky vampire-lady! Quit backstabbing my folks!)
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Research and Destroy, which is also out today on Switch, PS4, PS5, and Steam, is a game with a lot of style and charm. However, it also has a camera that can become annoying, and compared to similar games like XCOM or Gears Tactics, it can sometimes feel a bit too simple.
Still, if you’re looking for a charming, gorgeous, slightly creepy tactical game, I’d suggest Research and Destroy. It even fully supports co-op play, either via split-screen or online, so you and some friends can save the world or fail and die together.