One of the best surprises at this year’s PAX East was being able to try We Are The Caretakers. I’ve been following the game’s narrative lead, Xalavier Nelson Jr., for a long time of social media (he’s got the perfect combo of excellent games writing and puns), and happened to see the game’s announcement on Twitter.
I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze in a demo that was available on the show floor and what I got was a very early look at a game that looks utterly unique. After that hands on, We Are The Caretakers has ended up being one of my most anticipated indie titles of the coming year.
We Are The Caretakers is an afrofuturist sci-fi squad management RPG.
Recruit, train, and manage an arcane team of protectors to unite cultures and defend the endangered wildlife you rely on, after the massive energy barrier that separates you from a wider universe mysteriously disappears.
First and foremost, I cannot state enough how refreshingly different We Are The Caretakers is. The game has a very distinct afro-futuristic style that is full of bright colors, towering mask-like helmets, and plenty of techno-shimmer. These all combine to really sell this environment and the characters in it, and I’m really interested to see what the story holds.
The game’s goals are unique too. We only got a very thin slice of the game and its story, but one of the most basic principles of the game is that you are acting as a militant conservation force, tactically working to eliminate threats to the local wildlife, who seem pretty significantly tied to the technology of the game.
The game itself plays a bit like a blending of X-COM and Final Fantasy, with a dash of 4X exploration thrown in for good measure. You have a number of squads you can create before the mission starts, each made up of characters with different classes, abilities and equipment. There’s a lot of potential for passive story telling here with the different characters and equipment, so that has me quite excited.
The mission I played tasked me with hunting down a group of poachers that had been seen in the area before they could hunt some of the animals in this section of the preserve. I initially spawned two squads and sent one north, and the other west. The map was moderately sized, and easy to move around with, but I felt like the scale was off. The character models seemed large, and it gives the impression that you’re moving quite slow, even when increasing the overall game speed.
As I explored, I found landmarks, animals, and other settlements, which I could claim (I believe this gave me more resources, allowing me to spawn a third squad), and question for information on where these poachers were. Finally, I learned that they were hanging out in the South-East portion of the map, and my three squads headed that way immediately, ready to execute a pincer from three angles.
As the poachers threw themselves at me, we entered a combat screen, where I was able to choose from a host of different abilities from my different characters in turn, eventually defeating the poachers. The combat system if simple and straightforward but there’s enough depth that I can see some real potential for coll combos and squad load outs.
I’ve said potential a few times already in this article, and that’s a great word to sum up my time with We Are The Caretakers. While the aesthetic and design of the game are already phenomenal, the actual in-game graphics need a bit of adjustment to help the game nail feeling good. Even with such an early and brief look at the game, I can also see some immense story telling possibilities and some fun, tactical gameplay emerging.