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Review

With its shimmering colors and its chibi armor, Möbius Front '83 looks like a good-natured tactical game. MF'83 is based on extensive military research: equipment, jargon, ranks, documents, everything is there. The game wants to be faithful to a specific military doctrine and risks shaking up the habits of some players. Our tanks fi...

Möbius Front '83

  • Greg Burn
  • May 31, 2021

With its shimmering colors and its chibi armor, Möbius Front '83 looks like a good-natured tactical game. MF'83 is based on extensive military research: equipment, jargon, ranks, documents, everything is there.

The game wants to be faithful to a specific military doctrine and risks shaking up the habits of some players. Our tanks find themselves in a delicate position: their status on the battlefield is threatened by the proliferation of ATGMs and their countermeasures are not yet fully developed, making them as valuable as they are fragile.

This disconcerting opposition between form and content is not the only dissonance that haunts MF'83. If the story tries to bring us closer to the troops, interspersing the missions with small scenes depicting their daily life and their moods, the gameplay is the opposite: anonymous units are sent to the slaughter without the slightest repercussion, either on the narrative or the following battles.

The turn-based tactics at the heart of the game are surprisingly rigid in their mechanics but paradoxically quite random in their resolution. For each mission, our choice of unit is strictly limited, both in its diversity and in the number of points to spend. Our units are allowed one move or action per turn, and although some actions can be performed after a move, the order is inflexible. If you perform an action you will not be able to move the unit again. Similarly, a move, no matter how long, consume the entire turn, whether you have moved one square or six. While this system may seem austere, it has the great advantage of avoiding analysis paralysis and making the sequence of turns fluid.

As carefully as you prepare your offensive, its result will remain relatively unpredictable, as the game makes copious use of randomness for the calculation of damage, the damage range sometimes going from simple to triple. If I am personally rather cool with the mechanics, preferring pure determinism, randomness has its aficionados and we finally find ourselves quite close to the spirit proposed by some board games.

The game is accompanied by a new solitaire game using a 52 card deck from the US army. This one was distributed to the troops to help them memorize the different military aircraft. As for the open puzzles, they are only present. If learning them by serendipity is a good idea, they are unfortunately too few and far too easy. The campaign takes about 30 hours to complete.

Singular in its approach, Möbius Front '83 creates its niche in the small world of turn-based games. If its peculiarities can be disturbing at first, one quickly gets attached to it and gets a taste for it.

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