icon Author: Laurel Ann
Shardpunk: Verminfall Review

Welcome to the rodent apocalypse. We hope you survive your stay.

Shardpunk: Verminfall is a turn-based strategy game set in the aftermath of the rodent takeover of a generic capital city. Your mission is to journey through the ruined city, heading toward the palace to deliver an advanced mech - the last hope for turning the tables on the rats and reclaiming the capital.

The game consists of a series of battles, each taking place on a grid-based map in one of the locations within the city. There are some side objectives, but the main objective is generally to get from one side of the map to the other, representing your team's movement toward the palace. This task is made difficult as you encounter a variety of anthropomorphic rodents with different class skills who do their best to annihilate your team.

A Desperate Rush to the Other End of Town

During your trek across each map, you have three main goals – make it to your next location, kill off or flee the vermin before they can kill you, and collect supplies in order to survive another day. Once you encounter your first group of rodents, reinforcements will be on their way, so there is a continuous supply of opponents to fight on any given map. After each battle, you enter the bunker phase, which gives you an opportunity to level up abilities and weapons, heal, and buff yourself for the next battle. Since your actions in the bunker phase are limited by character abilities, the supplies you have on hand, and how many action points you have available (based on the number of human party members), some strategizing is required in the bunker phase as well.

The game is designed to give the feel of desperation in a post-apocalyptic aftermath. The rodents hit hard and if you don't plan carefully, you can quickly find yourself becoming swarmed and taking major casualties. However, if you survive the initial battles and build your team well, the game can start to feel quite easy in the later missions. But even with a strong team, one careless mistake can leave you spiraling into an abyss of blood and death. Since your save file is continuously updated though autosave, players without a masochistic streak may want to copy their profile folders to a different location to avoid losing hours of gameplay in case a battle takes a turn for the hopeless.

Tactical Combat in Pixel Graphics

Combat is fairly standard for a tactics game. Each character on your team has two action points to spend at any point during each round of combat. This can be spent on movement, attacks, special interactions with items on the map, defensive maneuvers, or healing. Ammunition isn't limited, but most guns need to be vented after being fired twice or risk backfire that damages the wielder. One fun element to watch out for is stress accumulation. Characters accumulate stress during battles and once a character reaches maximum stress, that character either panics (removing your control for a turn) or gains a quirk such as a phobia or other personality trait that will affect that character for the rest of the game. These traits are generally negative, meaning they can add an extra challenge if you don't keep an eye on your stress levels.

The audio and graphics don't particularly stand out, but they also don't get in the way. The pixel art gives off a retro feel that seems appropriate for a steampunk-style post-apocalyptic world and the isometric layout makes it easy to orchestrate the movements of your team across the map. Although the graphic depiction of cover leads to awkward situations in which the fighters are sometimes shown to be hitting targets while shooting through walls, the game makes it clear how cover will function in any given situation, so the mechanics are sound even if what's displayed can occasionally seem a bit off.

Tactical Variations on Limited Maps

Although the maps for each mission don't change between playthroughs (apart from minor randomization in layout as well as randomized loot), there are two different paths for most of the levels in each chapter, so you would need to play the game at least twice to see every single map. Different characters can be unlocked as you play, allowing you to create variation in tactics for subsequent playthroughs by having a completely different set of abilities at your command, though combat can still end up feeling repetitive after playing the game for a long time.

Quick Reference:

Shardpunk: Verminfall is a turn-based strategy game with pixel graphics.

Best played with patience, a clear head, and plenty of breaks.


• Solid battle system.

• Good variety of characters and skills.


• Permadeath autosaves may not be for everyone.

• Combat can get repetitive after playing a long time.

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