I knew Wargroove would tap into my childhood nostalgia by bringing back a style of tactical gameplay that I haven’t seen in quite a while. The elevator pitch is basically taking the Advance Wars games, and replacing all of the tanks and modern artillery with a medieval fantasy setting with knights and dragons instead. Frankly speaking though, this game is so much more than that.
Anyone who’s ever played an Advance Wars title will feel right at home with the turn based tactical combat in this game. It revolves around moving your units a set number of spaces, which wary greatly depending on the unit’s type, all around the map until you get an enemy unit into their range so they can attack them. That’s the most basic of the basics.
Dive deeper into the game, and you’ll see that there are numerous different mechanics that come into play to create a complex and deeply engrossing strategy experience. Do not underestimate this game simply because of it’s cute and colorful art style. It can be extremely challenging at times, but that just makes your victories all the more rewarding.
There are multiple different units that players have access to in the game. First and foremost are the Commanders, only one of which can be in a battle at any time. These are extremely strong units that possess special abilities that only they can use, and sometimes losing them is one of the conditions that causes players to instantly lose a battle.
The other units are divided into Land, Air and Sea types, and each and every one of them vary considerably in how they function and who they’re strong or weak against. There are the most obvious differences in the amount of damage they do and the number of spaces they can move during a turn, but then there are also unique conditions that have to be met to score critical hits with that unit.
For example, Archers land critical hits if they attack without moving, and Trebuchets land them when they attack from their maximum possible range. Similarly, Dragons land critical hits when attacking targets that are standing on roads, and Spearmen do so when positioned adjacent to other Spearman. Satisfying these conditions to score critical hits is crucial to winning some of the more difficult battles, and they require proper planning, positioning and even baiting a lot of times.
Which is not to say that employing tactics like baiting is easy in Wargroove, it’s quite tough in fact. Part of this game’s challenge comes from its intelligent AI, which doesn’t just run into conflict head on. It’s cautious, often taking it’s time to build up its forces and employing various maneuvers to corner your units. It’s actually great playing against it, knowing that it won’t shoot itself in the foot like a lot of AI in games often does.
There’s also different Terrain tiles to keep track of, since they provide different bonuses. For example, Forest and Mountain tiles provide a massive increase to a unit’s defense, while Rivers subtract from it. Proper usage of these also provide that much need edge when similar types of units clash.
The game itself is split between a few Single Player modes and Multiplayer. Singer Player includes a moderately lengthy campaign that should take you anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to complete, and is comprised of levels that introduce you to the various different units in the game while also quickly ramping up the difficulty as you progress. The story is nothing particularly engaging, and is hurried along at a breakneck speed so that each plot point hardly gets more than a passing glance. That’s all fine though, because the gameplay is the real star here.
There’s also an Arcade mode that is unlocked by playing the Campaign, which has you choose a commander and take on five back to back battles. The battles in this mode aren’t really story oriented, and are much smaller and focused compared to the Campaign battles.
Players also have access to both Local and Online Multiplayer for up to 4 players, and it’s here that your skills that you hone during single Player will truly be put to the test. The game also supports cross-play between the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and the PC,
Also of note are the extensively detailed and powerful Map and Campaign Editors, which allow you to not only create your own maps for online play, but to also create your own campaigns with branching mission paths that are unlocked upon satisfying specific conditions. I tried my hand on these to get a feel for them, but I’m honestly quite bad at balancing out maps and the like so I’ll just leave these to more capable creators. But knowing that these are here means that we can look forward to some amazing player created content in the future.
In conclusion, Wargroove is a fantastic game that any fan of the Advance Wars franchise should play. Heck you don’t even have to be an Advance Wars fan to enjoy it, It’s a remarkable title that anyone interested in strategy games in general will thoroughly enjoy. It’s story may not be all that good, but it’s the gameplay that truly counts, and on that front, it goes above and beyond. You won’t be disappointed.
Wargroove is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and the PC. It was developed and published by Chucklefish. This review covers the PC version of the game.
The review copy was provided by the publisher.
Wargroove invokes nostalgic memories of the Advance Wars series, while still standing out as a unique gem that introduces enough new mechanics to appeal to both new and old fans of the turn-based tactics genre.