Originally released on PC and most consoles back in February, Wargroove finally came to Playstation 4 last week. Growing up I was a pretty big fan of turn based strategy games particularly turn based RPGs. One subgenre I never really got into was the Advance Wars type of games where you were in charge of an army of units and were tasked with destroying your opponents. I am not really sure why I never really played many games from the genre as I have always liked more laid back strategy games. Well I have been recently getting into the genre as I checked out Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble a while back and enjoyed it. I was excited to try out Wargroove as well as it looked like it added an interesting fantasy setting to the genre. Wargroove might not revolutionize the turn based strategy genre but it is a fun and engaging game that all fans of the genre should check out.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Chucklefish for the review copy of Wargroove used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
The once peaceful kingdom of Cherrystone has been plunged into war. The newly crowned Queen Mercia must flee her home before it is overrun by the forces of evil. Even on the run she is pursued by her enemies. In order to reclaim her kingdom she must travel the world to find new allies to aid in her fight against evil. Will Mercia be successful in her quest to find allies to help her save her kingdom?
At its most basic level Wargroove’s gameplay is quite similar to a lot of turn based strategy games with an emphasis on the Advance Wars series in particular. Basically in the game you are given command over an army of units. You will use these units to attack your opponents and capture buildings. The game has a variety of different units which basically break down into land, water and air units. While all of the factions have access to the same units, each faction has their own distinct look. Each unit in the game also has their own strengths and weaknesses towards other types of units. A key to the game is figuring out how to maximize these strengths and weaknesses. In particular most units have a requirement for the unit to deal critical damage. Figuring out how to place your units to take advantage of this fact can have a pretty big impact on your success in the game. You also get to control a hero unit that in addition to having more health and attack damage has a special ability that charges up by dealing damage and defeating enemies. The special abilities range from offensive abilities that deal damage to defensive abilities that protect your other units.
The ultimate goal in most levels is to defeat your opponent(s). This usually involves capturing the enemy’s command center or defeating their hero. A key to accomplishing these tasks is capturing and holding buildings scattered around the map. An unoccupied building can be taken by moving an infantry unit to the area and capturing the building. To capture an occupied building you have to eliminated the other player’s defenses in the building and then you can capture it. The buildings scattered around the map can be broken down into two types. One type of building generates money for you each turn. These buildings are important as it is hard to build additional troops without any money. These buildings are also used to help heal your damaged units. The other buildings allow you to use your money to train new units. There are three different types of these buildings with one corresponding to each type of unit (ground, water, air). Holding these buildings are important as well since they are the only places you can get new units. As you can only train one unit each turn at each building, having multiple training buildings can be quite useful.
On its surface Wargroove doesn’t drastically change the formula from other similar turn based strategy games. Anyone familiar with a game like Advance Wars should already have a good idea of what to expect from Wargroove and whether or not they will like the game. Even if the game is not highly original, it doesn’t mean that Wargroove is not a good game. As a matter of fact it is a really good game. The gameplay is quite fun as it is satisfying building up your forces and defeating your opponents. It won’t persuade people that don’t like these type of turn based strategy games, but people who enjoy these type of games should enjoy their time with Wargroove quite a bit.
I think one of the reasons that Wargroove succeeds is that it does a good job making the game quite accessible while still containing quite a bit of strategy. The overall gameplay is quite simple as you just choose where you want units to move on the map and if you are in range of an enemy or building you can choose to attack or capture it. As these type of strategy games are usually better on PC as a mouse is usually helpful, I was interested to see how the game would turn out on consoles. While the game might still be a little better on PC, there really are no issues playing the game on consoles as the controls work really well for the game. While the game has a decent amount of units that you have to familiarize yourself with, the game does a great job slowly teaching you how to play the game. All of the early levels in the game teach you new mechanics so there is a gradual learning curve. This might frustrate players already quite familiar with the genre but it does a good job making the game accessible for people that don’t play these type of games often.
For the most part I liked Wargroove’s single player campaign. While I haven’t completed it yet, it appears to be pretty lengthy as most players seem to average around 20 hours for the story. The campaign’s story is solid but unspectacular. It was interesting enough that I want to see what is going to happen next. At the same time though it is not a highly original story as it kind of feels like a pretty generic fantasy story. The game’s art style does a good job supporting the story as it uses really good pixel art. Anyone who doesn’t hate pixel art should really appreciate it. The thing I liked the most about the campaign though is that there is some real creativity in the levels. While a decent amount of the levels are your typical capture a certain building or destroy your opponent’s hero, there are other missions that actually present you with some interesting objectives.
In addition to the campaign Wargroove includes two other single player modes. First there is the arcade mode. The arcade mode basically has you choose a hero and then you will face off against five other heroes in consecutive battles. Wargroove also adds a puzzle mode. At first it might seem odd to add a puzzle mode to a game like Wargroove. When you think about it though it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Basically the puzzle mode gives you a situation where you are given one turn to use all of your units to defeat your opponent. These might not be a focal point for Wargroove but I think the designers deserve credit for creating some additional interesting content for the game.
As far as Wargroove’s difficulty I would say that it is kind of hit or miss. When you first start playing a game against the computer it actually puts up a pretty good fight. The computer is pretty aggressive and will likely makes some progress towards your base. If you create a strong defensive front though and fend off its initial attack you likely will be in good shape. If you can break through the first attack the computer usually ends up flailing. This is mostly because it is pretty easy to trick the computer into being too aggressive. Once you get the computer on the ropes it can’t really fight back allowing you to quickly take out their base. Basically you might take some early unit losses but you should be able to beat the computer most of the time. The only ways the computer will win is if you put your hero into too much danger or you leave your command center unprotected.
To take a break from the AI lets move onto the multiplayer. The game supports up to four players in multiplayer. The game supports local splitscreen and online multiplayer. In the multiplayer you basically choose a map and the goal is to either eliminate the other player(s)’s hero or destroy their command center. Outside of supporting up to four players, this is pretty similar to most games from this genre. While I never played the game online, the multiplayer works quite well in splitscreen co-op. One thing I was a little surprised by though is that the game supports co-op in three and four player games. It is quite fun playing this type of game with another player as you can formulate a strategy together in order to eliminate your opponents. I enjoyed the co-op mode so much that I kind of wish the campaign supported co-op as well.
It should already be pretty obvious that Wargroove has quite a bit of content. I haven’t mentioned the level creator yet though. With a level creator players are able to create their own levels and share them online. If you didn’t get enough gameplay out of the campaign, arcade, puzzle mode and multiplayer; you can also check out levels created by other players. When you add all of this together, it would be hard to not get your money’s worth out of Wargroove if you like these type of games. If you don’t generally like these type of games you might tire of the gameplay after a while. Fans of this genre should get a lot of content out of the game though.
A little while back I took a look at Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble. I bring this up because the two games have very similar gameplay. If I were to compare the two games I can’t say that either are considerably better than the other. Both games seem to do some things better and other things worse. The main gameplay is basically the same. Both games have their own little tweaks though which make them stand out compared to the other game. Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble appears to have a longer campaign and more skirmish maps. Wargroove has a level editor though so there is the potential for unlimited content. I thought both games were great and I would recommend checking out both if you like these type of games. If you are only interested in picking up one of them though I think it mostly comes down to which game’s theme you prefer. If you prefer a sci-fi/steampunk theme I would recommend Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble. Those that prefer a fantasy setting though will probably prefer Wargroove.
At the end of the day Wargroove is basically what you want it to be. The game is not highly original as outside of a couple small tweaks it is pretty similar to games like Advance Wars and other similar turn based strategy games. While it would have been nice if the game revolutionized the genre, it didn’t really have to as it does a great job using the mechanics that are already well loved to make a fun game. The gameplay is quite simple and yet really satisfying. The game also includes plenty of content. The campaign’s story is a little hit or miss but it contains some interesting and unique mechanics. In addition the game includes an arcade and puzzle mode to add more content for individual players. The game also has multiplayer where you can play against and with other players. I would say that the biggest problem with Wargroove is that the AI can be a little hit or miss. It can sometimes put up a pretty good fight to begin with but it is usually pretty easy to trick it and/or overwhelm it with units.
If you have never really cared for turn based strategy games like Advance Wars, Wargroove is not going to be for you. People who like the genre though will probably really like Wargroove and I would recommend that they pick it up.