After almost two years in early access spanning 53 updates, sociable retro sci-fi FPS The Anacrusis has a 1.0 release date – 5th December 2023. The word “anacrusis” refers to a set of syllables that precede the first metrical foot in a line of poetry – an intriguing moniker for a game that is essentially Valve’s Left 4 Dead, but set in a 1970s-styled high tech facility reminiscent of No One Lives Forever. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with The Anacrusis, and assumed that it was one of those top-drawer philosophical puzzlers. Come on, there isn’t even a pun in the title!

In case you missed all our previous coverage, The Anacrusis (which is, in fact, the work of a team founded by original Left 4 Dead developer Chet Faliszek) is about running across maps full of unpredictable quantities and qualities of marauding alien wildlife. One to four players must use guns, crowd control abilities and the terrain to make up for their numerical disadvantage and push through to safety.

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The game is divided into episodes and, much like Left 4 Dead, features an “AI director” – a set of systems that monitor your behaviour and distribute enemies, weapons, healthpacks and ammo in response, whether to punish those who try to pull a Carter J Burke, or support those who are struggling. There’s also a Holdout mode, aka timed horde defence, and an eight player asymmetrical PvP mode in which one side gets to play as Special aliens with unique traits, comparable to Left 4 Dead’s legendary Boomers, Tanks and Smokers.

Ed, Imogen (RPS in peace) and Katharine had a chat about their hands-on time with The Anacrusis back in early 2022. Ed noted that “there’s this sense of plunging into the unknown here, which makes things all the more frantic”, while Imogen hailed the game as “a fab romp with a good team”. Katharine, meanwhile, almost got everybody killed by repeatedly riling the hordes.

James had a lengthy catch-up with Stray Bombay this January to reflect on what was apparently quite a rough early access launch, and discuss the team’s many additions and changes on the road to 1.0. Speaking as a lapsed Left 4 Dead player, I find it strange to see another game playing with the metaphor of an “AI Director” in the year of our Lord ChatGPT. All the same, I’m eager to give The Anacrusis a go myself.

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