Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Available On: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Version Tested: Windows PC
Official Site: https://wargroove.com/
Release Date: February 1, 2019
In 1988, Intelligent Systems released a little game called Famicom Wars for Nintendo’s Family Computer console in Japan. It was a simple turn-based strategy game, based on modern military, with a foundation built on a series of checks, balances, and counters. It took twenty-two years for the series to make it to a worldwide release, with 2001’s entry Advance Wars being released on the Game Boy Advance to critical acclaim. The Advance Wars series had multiple entries, but the last one came out in 2008, with the Nintendo DS release of Advance Wars Days of Ruin. Fans of the series lamented the fact that the series was effectively discontinued, and until recently, there wasn’t a game that could fill the void. A handful of indie games were released in the same style, but the first one released that captured the Advance Wars vibe perfectly was Wargroove, released by Chucklefish.
Trading the modern military aesthetic for a more medieval flavor, the rocket launchers for the fireball-tossing mages; Wargroove puts you in the shoes of Mercia, the daughter of King Mercival II of the kingdom of Cherrystone. The leader of a clan of vampires sneak into the castle under the veil of night and assassinates the King, and Mercia’s forces get overwhelmed while trying to mount a counterattack. They take flight through the forest to look for help, and along the way find help from the most unusual of places. Wargroove has a wide variety of sights to see and armies to fight, spanning not just humans and vampires, but other races as well, including a cameo from the Floran, one of the playable races from Chucklefish’s universe-exploring game Starbound.
Wargroove has a very unique graphical style, one with huge amounts of flourish. Each and every character sprite has tons of frames of animation, like hair flowing in the breeze, robes, and tunics moving with each and every swing of the weapon. The maps and environments have lots of little details like waves crashing against the beach and footprints being dug in the snow; and despite the units being otherwise largely disposable, each one is charming in their own special way, like dogs running away before being defeated and ropes from catapults and trebuchets swinging in the wind after being fired. Every single element of Wargroove is just loaded with style, and that also includes the music.
Wargroove’s soundtrack is composed by Phonetic Hero, also known as Pete Lepley. Each and every track sets the mood perfectly. Mercia’s theme is suitably regal but spunky, like the queen herself; the Floran’s theme gives off the feeling of being in the deep woods, and Sigrid’s theme is dark, bold, and aggressive. The soundtrack is simultaneously catchy and ambient, and I caught myself listening to more than a handful of tracks outside of the game.
The gameplay of Wargroove sticks very close to Advance Wars. Units each have their own weaknesses and strengths. Soldiers do more damage to Archers, Archers do more damage to Dogs and Mages, and Mages do more damage to Soldiers, for instance. There’s a huge rock-paper-scissors style graph that all the units adhere to, and while it would be possible to take down an enemy to which your unit doesn’t get a damage bonus, it would take a lot longer, and would likely lead to your unit being lost, or at least heavily damaged. The more damage a unit has taken, the weaker it is. Imagine it being a platoon of 10 soldiers rather than one single soldier, and taking damage thins out their numbers, leading to a lowered damage output. There’s a lot of strategy in Wargroove, but the game itself is very accommodating. If you’re having difficulty with a certain mission in the game, you can adjust a handful of sliders to bring the difficulty to a level that you feel comfortable tackling. While this does limit the number of bonus stars you can earn in the mission, and thus will limit the number of bonuses you can unlock; you can at least see Wargroove’s epic story to its conclusion.
After you’ve finished Wargroove’s story, you’re in luck. There is an absolutely tremendous amount of content still to play! Wargroove allows you to create, share and download custom campaigns and maps online, and the pool of custom content is actually cross-platform, between the Switch, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game! The customization tools are incredible, allowing you to not only create single custom maps but full campaigns as well; allowing for multiple levels and fully scripted cutscenes to bring your custom creation to life.
Wargroove also supports up to four players in cross-platform multiplayer, allowing Switch, PC and Xbox players to either compete or cooperate on either custom maps or on any of the dozens of pre-built maps included with the game. Online matches work seamlessly, as well. One player creates a match, and that player is given an invite code. Entering that invite code on the other player’s devices allows them to join instantly, regardless of what platform they’re playing on.
Verdict: Regardless of how you like to play your strategy games, Wargroove offers a nearly infinite amount of content on top of a fun, engaging campaign with lots of personality. Chucklefish has created a masterpiece with Wargroove, a perfect strategy game for either experienced players or for players dipping their toes into the waters of strategy gaming.
- Phenomenal graphics
- Cross-platform multiplayer
- Nearly-infinite custom content
- Earning some unlockables is extremely difficult
- AI sometimes "cheats" to increase visibility
- AI turns can take far too long sometimes
Question Block Gaming is a Youtube channel hosted by Maple, that covers all sorts of video games and culture. He’s been a gamer since 1985 and shows no signs of stopping yet.