Tentacle Wars' stages contain embryos, little blobs that grow at a steady pace. It's quite nice watching them swell, their numbered hearts ticking upwards. But at some point, baby needs lebensraum. Depending on the distance, nuclei can attack each other, sending out barbed, undulating tentacles that lodge in each other's cell walls - as well as defending against whatever's incoming.
These are drawn-out wars where number-balancing and pincer movements are of equal importance, and despite the lack of any gore they're very unsettling. The way the tentacles battle against each other isn't especially bad, a head-to-head numbers battle. But watching an isolated embryo suddenly swarmed by its neighbours, a mass of greedy organic tentacles slamming into its body at the same time before it's inevitably transformed, feels more merciless than anything in Gears of War.
The basics of Tentacle Wars will be familiar to Galcon fans, though it operates in a different manner. As the embryos rest, their number builds up. The higher the number, the more powerful that embryo is in a fight, and the more tentacles it can send out (to a maximum of three). Fighting on more than one front weakens an embryo's power, and fighting straight against an embryo with a higher number will lead to defeat - eventually.