'Tenderfoot Tactics' Rides The Line Between Cute and Terrifying

In a year with plenty of cute "wholesome" games, 'Tenderfoot Tactics' manages to have a soothing aesthetic that doesn't undercut its terrifying world.
Screencapture form Tenderfoot Tactics, five goblins, one with a shield, one with a bow, two with harps, and one with a wizard hat, move towards a large castle that is shrouded in darkness.
Image courtesy of Ice Water Games

Tenderfoot Tactics is a new open world RPG tactics game with a striking art style. It uses low-poly models for it’s characters with very little shading to differentiate depth. This leaves the characters to be mostly flat planes of color. The environment follows as similar art direction but with one big diversion, there’s a limit to your characters’ sight so the further away you get, the darker and more “physically noisy” the terrain gets. The limited view and everchanging horizon give a sense of a wilderness that is alive and ever evolving, which also comes into play in combat. We discuss the game’s excellent use of aesthetics, combat systems, and more on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.


Gita: I just really like this art style that's been very common in indie games recently where it's not quite separate shades, this flat color, and no detail in the faces or anything. Just like a lot of big blobs of color moving on top of blobs of color.

I just find it so soothing to look at, makes everything look very cute, but doesn't like disallow images of violence. I really, I think it's like a good balance in terms of aesthetic.

Austin: Yeah, I think that there's something really interesting here . In a year of wholesome games and stuff, et cetera, this is a game that I think very easily could lean in that direction if they wanted to and be like " we're a cutesy game about playing cutesy characters," And instead it seems like it's, because I want to be clear: these characters are really cute. Eventually this one has a big hat. This one it's a goblin what looks like a mouse person which is very cute. Big floppy ears are just cute to me. But when you read to me that this is a game about an empire of ill repute coming to, you know unlike the "good" empires, coming to stomp these people out or coerce them into working alongside them that adds to it quite a bit.

And there was something about the world in which you can't quite see beyond your own perspective that makes this look both cute and creepy. There's a moment in the trailer, there's some ghosts that these players are fighting and it's like, everything about this feels like you're stuck in a tomb to me, and that is creepy looking. That blend is really nice.


Ricardo: It's absolutely the unknown wild being terrifying to people who don't have a lot of connection because there's like, distance is a big issue in this world. Yeah, it's really neat. It's very much like these characters are cute, but like this world is terrifying. I routinely almost lose fights.

This transcript was edited for length and clarity. Discussed: Blaseball 5:55, Lucifer Within Us 9:26, Genshin Impact 16:05, Tenderfoot Tactics 53:50, Astrologaster 1:08:51

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