Sci-Fi games involving aliens usually involve a handful of the same tropes. Usually, an intergalactic terror shows up on the doorstep of an otherwise peaceful world and forces them to fight. The planet and species being invaded are usually totally outmatched in terms of technology and military prowess, and it’s up to our players to save the day and defeat the extraterrestrial menace.
That, or the game revolves around an intergalactic war, where several different species of aliens (usually at least one being human) battle in a massive conflict with no clear end in sight. While both sides despise the other, the player soon learns that good and evil exist on both sides and that space war is a complicated space-political issue. In Space.
While there’s nothing wrong with these tropes and they make for incredibly compelling stories, it’s a bit dull seeing the same story told a hundred different ways. We Are The Caretakers is the first game in a while I’ve seen flip these tropes, and in a way that genuinely surprised me and was very compelling.
In We Are The Caretakers, your planet is being invaded, but not by a conquering evil. Intergalactic poachers have come to your planet to hunt Raun, a rare animal that is as important to your planet’s ecosystem as it is valuable on the black market.
To protect the Raun, you command a force known as the Caretakers, whose sole duty is to stop the poaching of these animals and to protect the planet from natural disasters, such as forest fires caused by crashed spaceships. Essentially, you take on the role of a militarized Forest Rangers, arresting these poachers and sending them to court to be judged for their crimes.
It’s an incredibly interesting take on the alien invasion trope, and one that I found really compelling right from the start. I especially enjoyed that you aren’t just straight-up murdering poachers you catch on your planet; There are arrested, interrogated, and sent to judges on their home planet — if you want to take the risk of them being found innocent.
Prisoners will offer you bribes for their freedom, and you can even recruit some of them to your party if you deem them reformed. It adds a lot of depth and decision-making and makes for a far more compelling narrative than your typical Space Solider fantasy.
The gameplay in We Are The Caretakers is relatively straightforward. Each mission puts you on a section of the map with several objectives, your main goal and some side quests that can be completed for extra money and experience. There is a day/night cycle, meaning that some of the quests are time sensitive and you won’t be able to complete everything at a time or fully explore the map for hidden treasures. However, this is somewhat balanced by the fact that you have several squads on the map at a time, allowing you to explore with all of them to sort of combat the time limit.
Combat is turn-based, simple, and is pretty reminiscent of other turn-based games. On each character’s turn, you have a number of actions you can use to attempt and subdue your enemy before they are given a chance to retaliate. Fitting in with the theme of being eco-cops, you don’t actually kill anyone in fights; Every “health” bar is replaced with Stamina, and the goal is to wear out the enemy before you are made too tired to fight.
Combat can be auto-battled from the start, so if you don’t want to deal with the small insignificant battles you can just skip through them and go back to the map. This is useful, because I honestly found a lot of the combat kind of tiring to get through.
As you progress through the missions and earn resources, you also gain the ability to research new tech. The tech tree opens up new aspects of the game, with everything from new mechanics such as negotiation with prisoners and better tech for your caretakers available for unlocking behind the research mechanic.
There’s a lot to do in the game, but it’s also pretty short. There are about 18 missions to complete over a single game of We Are The Caretakers, which can amount to about six hours of gameplay without distractions. This isn’t super bad for the game’s low price tag, but generally, I would have expected a game like this to be a lot longer.
There are some performance issues holding the game back, too. Visual bugs aren’t unheard of, and I found myself crashing to desktop more than a few times during my playthrough. When this happened during a longer mission it was especially frustrating, having to replay the same missions several times just to finish.
All in all, I was somewhat disappointed with We Are The Caretakers, but only because it showed so much promise in many aspects. The unique storytelling made the bugs and somewhat uninspired core gameplay mechanics a lot more disappointing. While the bugs are not something every player will experience and can be patched by the developers, the overall experience of the game I feel leaves a lot to be desired.
The Final Word
We Are The Caretakers has a lot of really good ideas, However, the gameplay itself is a bit uninspired and can be a drag to get through, even with a pretty short total runtime. Fans of turn-based combat should have fun with this game, even if they don’t find it totally compelling. I imagine a sequel with more emphasis on tweaking the gameplay can offer players a much more engaging experience.
Our We Are The Caretakers review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!