What do you mean ‘there’s no plan B’? Fear not, friends, GFX47‘s latest title gives you ample time to ponder your tactical combat skills; just be glad that this is a training simulator before you decide to join SWAT or become a crim.
This is a very clever game on paper (or digitally printed), but what’s the gameplay like? Oh – you don’t know what No Plan B is about? Alright. Here’s the briefing.
You choose from one of four factions:
You can decide which ones are the heroes, plus invent your own back story as No Plan B is about setpieces rather than “I’m too old for this shit” or “There’s a bomb on the bus!”. The goal is to take command of a situation, regardless of the faction, and eliminate the opposition or get your team to safety.
There are three campaigns on offer, playable in any order, but note that you have to get things right to progress. Losing a character doesn’t mean a respawn. If you keep getting killed, try the skirmish levels (they’re bloody brilliant).
The game is one of two halves: planning and execution. Perhaps execution is the wrong word if you’re playing as the SWAT or FBI teams. In layman’s terms, the first part of the game is positioning your crew, configuring their load-outs and plan of attack/defence, then the second part is the reward, watching the action from a cinematic viewpoint. Once you commit to the strategy, there’s no going back.
As the planning side of things isn’t real-time, you can go leisurely, dragging and dropping the paths on where everyone will go. This takes time to master as you have to get used to scrubbing back and forth on the timeline. You’ll have to mix up commands like where the team will aim, whether they move slow or fast and hold their position – an action frequently on the to-do list so that the teamwork is in unison.
This is where No Plan B shines: how tangible it is. Another way of looking at it is like keyframes on a video timeline. A few years back that comparison would have been lost on most people, but everyone is a YouTuber these days and probably know how they work.
Thanks to an excellent opening tutorial, it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things, but as mentioned, you need to be mindful of your actions and think as a team rather than send your best character in. Did I mention that you can assign skills that affect reaction time, healing capabilities and stuff? Just did.
The mission objectives in No Plan B Early Access follow a pattern of eliminating targets, securing single or multiple locations, and getting your team out nice n’ safe. But how does it pan out?
From my first outing with a squad of eight, I managed to ace the mission, but with comical value. Not grasping the concept of time, I sent one of my team to open a door and lob in a stun grenade. Treating it a bit like an arcade experience, I knew of its potential failure by the time I committed: I didn’t factor in that my team would all be walking into the room at the time of the explosion.
Watching the replay, my team moved in like clockwork, swept the rooms effortlessly, then in synchronised stupidity, the stun grenade went off, and all the team, yes, ALL the squad, were in the room at the same time. After a hearty laugh, it was time to do another mission. Let’s hope there are no hostages in the next one.
No Plan B is available in the Early Access stage from the 1st of December, but if this sounds even remotely interesting, then I’d encourage you to seek this out, and at least give the demo a try. I’ll have to say hands down that this gets two thumbs up. Like Festival Tycoon, this is another one of those games where I could quite happily write off all work and play it all day. Thoroughly enjoyable, intelligent gameplay mechanics, and utterly engaging. Love it, love it, love it.