No Plan B by GFX47
No Plan B is a tactical squad-based strategy game inspired by top-down titles like Frozen Synapse and XCOM.
Featuring a variety of factions to play as and an array of randomly generated challenges, No Plan B tasks would-be tacticians with planning every small detail of an operation down to the second and then letting it play out in real-time. Packing a selection of campaigns and an assortment of individual missions, No Plan B offers plenty of tactical challenges.
Synchronize Your Watches
A short but useful set of tutorial missions are provided at the outset of No Plan B, and this helps with getting to grips with the somewhat fiddly control system. The game requires extensive time management and often demands that several actions be synchronized in order to succeed; switching back and forth between combatants while staying in the same chronological position can be a little tricky at first, but once all of the controls are memorized, this gets a little more intuitive.
With the tutorial done, the game provides two primary game types: independent missions and a campaign mode. The latter is where the bulk of No Plan B’s ambitions lie.
Either of these options can be played as SWAT, FBI, robbers, or gangsters, and each of these brings a few variations to the team, such as more health and slower movement or faster aiming speed. The real customization comes into play when jumping into a campaign, however; each squad member can be renamed, and they can all be equipped with a variety of gear ranging from shotguns to pistols (which are actually an essential alternative to heavier weapons here, thanks to their aiming speed).
Campaigns play out through a nonlinear path where missions can be selected based on their difficulty and the rewards they offer. Choosing the right mission and then deploying squad members appropriately is crucial to success, as troops can become injured or fatigued from their activities, forcing some tough choices as a campaign winds on.
A selection of skills can also be unlocked for each squad member which, along with purchasable weapons, help to add a solid sense of progression to each run.
Better Make Sure Plan A Is a Good One, Then
The missions themselves are built around patient and diligent planning. Every move needs to be carefully plotted; one corner left unchecked or one door poorly breached can mean the death of a squad member.
Each trooper can be issued orders to move through buildings and take actions at precise times in coordination with their squad. Once everything is set, you can launch the mission and watch things play out.
The enemies are the wild card; they cannot be seen until the mission is executed, so their behavior can completely undo carefully planned raids.
Losing a squad member early in a mission can be disastrous, as every job assigned to them is suddenly unattended, and the other troops will only continue to follow the original plan. This can leave your remaining squad members exposed and their flanks unguarded. It’s a very satisfying experience when everything goes to plan, and it can be surprisingly amusing to watch it all fall apart when things don’t turn out quite as expected.
No Plan B packs solid visuals with cute polygonal characters and decent designs for the environments. There are some visual bugs here and there but nothing seriously problematic. Short cut-scenes punctuate each success or failure, and these can feel both a little too short and consequently a little unnecessary. It’s clear that they are there to add a little personality, but they need a little refinement to really hit home.
No Plan B is a solid top-down tactics game that really focuses on the planning and coordination aspects of strategy. Each level is a puzzle with a handful of surprises that must be anticipated in order to triumph. I had a great time with No Plan B, and it’s easy to recommend for fans of strategy.
There are a few small issues that still need to be improved on, but it’s clear that the developers are very active, and there is enormous potential for growth here. A level creator tool is also present to add replay value. Anyone looking for either a bite-sized or more substantial tactics experience will find something to dig into here.
No Plan B is available via Steam Early Access.
Watch the official trailer for No Plan B below: