What if Wakanda saved the environment?

We are the Caretakers is an Afrofuturist sci-fi squad-based RPG that tasks players with protecting endangered species and the very planet from total extinction. If you don’t know what Afrofuturist really is, it can best be defined as a movement in almost every form of entertainment around which feature futuristic themes which incorporate Black culture and history or even make it the central theme. In We Are the Caretakers, players will recruit, train and deploy squads of Caretakers to stop the alien poachers from invading. Set in the fictional African nation, Shadra; the story revolves around trying to save the Raun, creatures who bear a striking resemblance to our own earthly Rhinos.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: Xbox (reviewed), PlayStation, PC
Price I’d Pay: $19.99

The most interesting thing about Caretakers was the lens in which the story is told. Instead of focusing on just those who hunt various creatures for sport of it, instead this narrative delves deeper and shows those who live in the areas where this poaching takes place. It depicts people who aren’t hunting these creatures for sport but out of necessity in order to survive as well as the plight of the animals themselves. The message the game conveys about the dangers of extinction, and what we as the people or Caretakers of our planet can do to curtail these dangers is one that hits home as we earthlings deal with things like Global Warming among others. But even with such high stakes the narrative remains enjoyable, not overly preachy but more informative in nature.

But just narrative nary a video game makes, it all comes down to gameplay and well, unfortunately that was the area in which I found We Are the Caretakers rather lacking. The gameplay in We Are the Caretakers is relatively straightforward. Each mission deploys players on the map with various objectives in addition to their main goals. The game does feature a day/night cycle which makes some objectives timed, so players will have to prioritize where they send their squads. As players progress, they will gather various resources that can be used to upgrade their Caretakers with new tech and attacks for combat encounters.

Combat is turn-based in nature like many RPG games, but in Caretakers there is no ‘health’ bar. Enemies have a ‘Will’ meter and a ‘Stamina’ meter, players can focus on either breaking their will or wearing down their stamina with various attacks and techniques. Once either is low enough players can use a finishing move which will incapacitate the criminal and allow for players to arrest, interrogate and even send them back to their home planet for trial as an option. I found this a unique twist to combat resolution, usually you fight until the health is empty, vanquishing the foe and moving on; so, seeing a developer try something new is awesome and I applaud Heart Shaped Games for it.

I wanted to love We are the Caretakers, the whole afro vibe, the music which is absolutely fire and I was even down with the idea of trying to save the environment. But the bland and boring combat makes We are the Caretakers just a chore to play; none of the attacks are visually pleasing or noteworthy and the animations feel stiff. I would love to see another game set in this world because the concept and everything is very interesting but combat and graphics would need to be overhauled because as it stands; even though this games heart is in the right place (10 percent of revenue going to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Rhino Recovery Fund, which focuses on improving the health of rhino populations while also benefiting local people) the actually gameplay is just underwhelming.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Afrofuturist vibe is in full effect
  • Music throughout the game is enjoyable
  • Combat becomes a slog
  • Graphics are good but glitches hinder them
  • Animations are janky at times
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Terrence spends his time going where no one has gone before mostly. But when not planning to take over the galaxy, he spends his time raising Chocobo and trying to figure out just how the sarlaac could pull Boba Fett’s ship with its engines firing FULL BLAST into it’s maw with relative ease; yet it struggled with Han Solo who was gripping *checks notes* SAND!