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Game Info:

Josie's Tank
Developed By: Cat Crate Games
Published By: Cat Crate Games
Released: September 21, 2019
Available On: Windows
Genre: Strategy
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: single-player
Price: $6.49

Thank you Cat Crate Games for sending us a review code!

In the not-so-distant future of 2044, the Great Empire has taken over half of the planet. It is up to General Edison Barkling and Captain Josie to become the resistance and free the world from the Great Empire’s tyranny. In Josie’s Tank, you take control of Josie and her tank in strategic turn-based warfare.

The combat of Josie’s Tank is very similar to other strategy games such as Scorched Earth and the Worms series, where the last tank standing wins. For people who have previously played any of those entries, you’d feel right at home with how to play. Each battle begins with your turn where you’re able to move around the terrain consisting of hills, concaves, floating platforms and even moving platforms. You only control one tank in battle and you get one shot per turn. Turns can end at any time with the Enter key. Utilize your knowledge of geometry to aim your weapons to land precise hits. Controls are pretty simple with the arrow keys to move and aim your tank barrel, the Z key to jump, and the space bar to charge up your shot.

16-bit sprites are littered throughout the scenery, with portraits hovering beneath the tanks. Josie is a brown-haired lady with a ponytail, while Barkling sports a buzz cut with full facial hair. The enemies are mostly unnamed, but the ones in the tank are either a man with similar features except with a beret, a redhead with shades looking like a CIA agent, and a person wearing a blue gas mask. Backgrounds are detailed and high quality. It looks nice.

Josie's Tank
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great music; detailed sprites and backgrounds
Weak Points: Takes more of blind guessing and trial-and-error than strategy; easy to replicate bugs, one of which is gamebreaking
Moral Warnings: Warfare; military violence; explosions 

Every battle you win, you gain currency in which you can buy other weapons such as missiles, artillery strikes, and stronger tank shells. You also earn skill points (20 points per every new level completed) in which you can increase your damage output, defense, health points, and fuel. Health is the only one that takes two skill points to increase the stat by one. You can replay levels to earn more currency, but you only earn about half the currency you earned from completing the level the first time. There is a life system with 10 lives started on every file. Lives can be bought for 3 coins each. Unless you’re aiming for the achievement to beat the game without continuing, there is no other reason to buy lives.

Progression is fairly simple with one-on-one battles. The number of tanks to fight increases the further the levels go and on some levels, you’ll find yourself fighting against up to three tanks at once. Coins are earned at a pretty low frequency and the weapons are pricey. The cheapest item in the store is 75 coins and the first few levels you start only earning around 6 coins. It takes on average 10 levels (if you do not replay any of them) to earn enough coins for even one weapon.

Your starting weapon is the tank shot with infinite ammo. All the other weapons have limited ammo, but the amount is not indicated. Each bought weapon also varies in the amount of ammo such as the stronger tank shot only having about 5 shots, while the grenade only has 4 shots. Even though most of your shots are represented by a bar at the top of the screen, each weapon has variance in the amount of power used. A standard tank shot charged halfway will act very different than a strong tank shot charged halfway, with no indication otherwise besides trial and error.

In many similar strategy games, there are indicators in the actions that you are given such as shot trajectory to help you plan your actions beforehand and even turns in the future. Wind also plays a role in how your shots interact. Josie’s Tank has none of this, as it is rather strange as strategy games have had mechanics and features decades prior. There is nothing within Josie’s Tank that gives a numerical value to your angle, the trajectory of your shots, or any of the sort. The only indication is from the power bar located at the top of the screen that shows off how much power you used from the last action. The issue with this is that at any point that you press the space bar, even during the opponents turn, that little red mark on the bar will reset. It’s the first bug that someone can replicate but far from the last.

Josie's Tank
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 56%
Gameplay - 6/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 2/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

AI tends to either go from being brutal assassins with perfect precision, destroying you before you can even take out one tank, to seemingly mentally impaired where they couldn’t even hit you even if you were right in front of them. Most levels only seem beatable if the AI wants to take it easy on you. The AI can also make impossible movements, such as moving on terrain that shouldn’t be possible like air and water (the latter is considered out of bounds). Fuel is a very limited resource that you only get per battle and unless you spend all your points in fuel, you’re not going far. Meanwhile, the AI can move as much or as little as they want. Pressing Z while moving decreases the amount of fuel used to move (which I’m sure wasn’t put in intentionally) but the distance still isn’t much.

Music, on the other hand, is great—quite excellent if I say so myself. It has an orchestral theme to it, with horns and percussion instruments commonly heard in classical music, anthems, and music used in war movies. The music is on such a different level than the game that it had to be made by someone else. And if you look through the credits, it is! All of the music is produced by Kevin MacLeod, the guy that you didn’t know that you knew. The man makes royalty-free music and if you have seen any YouTube video, there is a very high chance you’ve heard of one of his pieces. The selection of music for the tone of the game was an excellent choice by Cat Crate Games. There is even voice work between Josie and Barkling and the quality is similar to what communications would sound like through intercoms.

Morality isn’t too crazy. There is the whole aspect of warfare. Tanks going against tanks. Explosions everywhere; Opposing forces. In the end, someone is going to have to die. It’s kill or be killed.

The trial and error gameplay started to grate on me after a few dozen levels. Features that much older games already had made the strategy pretty basic and more reliant on luck than actual strategic planning. I was willing to deal with the lack of refinement in mechanics due in part to the excellent music and a story that I was slightly invested in, but one huge oversight halted all of my progress. On the continue screen, if you let the timer count down to 0, the game will delete your save file, with nothing telling you that this would happen. I feel like it wasn’t meant to happen as if you choose the file to continue from, it attempts to load it but doesn’t. Being forced to do over 40 levels all over again, I decided that I had enough.

If you’re not a hardcore lover of strategy games, you’re best off skipping Josie’s Tank. It takes too long to get rolling as the later levels start to feel fairer due to having more weapons, but the early levels are just such a slog (and you better hit that continue button or else). Numerous bugs and mechanical oversights also damper what would otherwise be an average game.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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