Seth Ringling lures gamers to a relatively untapped genre in the Xbox LIVE Indie Games with the real-time strategy title Scatha. In this ambitious addition to the XBLIG family, players are tasked with “leading Scathaedia to victory over the League of Immortals”.  That is to say, if the player doesn’t break a controller halfway through the game.

Scatha is one of those games that you really wish lived up to its potential.  Its seven levels are rather small, its difficulties (Not So Bad, Slim Chance, You Won’t Win) could use some fine-tuning, and the controls are frustrating.  Scatha’s lucky in that it has landed in an as of yet uncontested niche.

Fans of real-time strategy games such as those that end in “-arcraft” will perhaps be among those who are most disappointed in Scatha’s inability to capitalize on what could have been a unique and enjoyable indie game.  An optional tutorial helps bring those unfamiliar with this particular beast up to speed.  Even RTS veterans can find a few new tricks in Scatha.  For example, Harvester units are spawned instantly (provided you control enough resources), neutral and hostile reinforcement-producing facilities simply need to be overthrown before they immediately begin pumping out your cavalry, and Harvesters stay at resource points instead of relaying back and forth for drop-offs.

Players may balk or revel in these twists on the worn formula, but any appreciation of Scatha’s merits will quickly dissipate as gamers are ensnared by the game’s faults.  Cursor movement can be hastened, but the game speed itself cannot.  This is a minor inconvenience when compared to Scatha’s more serious crimes, specifically the controls.  At the beginning of a map you might realize that you must painstakingly guide your troops one at a time through a narrow path, only to get stuck later on during the same map because you didn’t realize that, at that particular segment of the level, you must go off the same road to which you were previously confined.  Your units can only maintain line-of-sight travel, which means that you often have to input a string of commands to guide your forces around the corners of your buildings.

It’s really a shame, because Scatha almost has enough RTS love to earn your dollars…just not five of them.  The seven levels that are included in the game are a good start, but not enough to satisfy players.  Perhaps it’s a good introductory title for the uninitiated, but it just doesn’t feel complete.

For 400 :MSPoints:, this game should have been more refined.  Instead, the real-time strategy title simply disappoints.  In the Xbox LIVE Indie Games market, an arena that so desperately needs more games of this genre, Scatha misses the mark and leaves gamers to wonder at what could have been.

More information on Scatha as well as the trial and full version of the game can be found on the Marketplace.

Review by Iggypu