When the independent developers at Chuckelfish first announced their tactical turn-based title in Wargroove back in 2017, many were quick to point out the similarities to Nintendo’s own Advance Wars and Fire Emblem franchises, but this indie entry does far more than just paying homage to those well-known series’ by being able to offer a charming and accessible experience to both new and veteran players alike. From its massive campaign, engrossing story, lovable characters, terrific gameplay and much more, Wargroove solidifies itself as not only an amazing title but should also be considered as one of the best games to pick up in this early calendar year.
Wargroove will have you taking the battle through 12 different campaigns with four rivaling factions in-between it all. From those of the Cherrystone Kingdom, the nefarious Felheim Legion, the nation of the Heavonsong Empire and the forest folks Floran Tribe are all playable factions that have a major implication to Wargroove‘s story which all begins with the assassination of King Mercvial II of the Cherrystone Kingdom. From there, each campaign explores the world of Aurania through the eyes of each faction and how they are part of this major conflict against the neighboring kingdoms.
The idea to offer the point of view of each faction makes Wargroove feel far larger than it is and its diverse cast of characters contribute to a very enticing story to play through. What is great is that the narrative of the game doesn’t necessarily follow as to who is in the right or wrong and the purpose of these rivaling countries to be facing off against one another is solely on survival of their nations and for their interpretation of the greater good which makes it believable in some sense and it all unfolds so naturally from one campaign to the next that you don’t feel bad when playing one side or the other, but the story just evolves through each and every mission.
Each act will have you commanding an army of one of these four factions which allows a good mix of experiencing what each nation has to offer from one level to the next and when progressing through each campaign allows you to unlock new infantry and abilities to complete the objective at hand. Each unit has its own intended purpose as well as its own unique strengths and weaknesses which puts the attention to detail while strategizing against your adversary quite important as you aren’t just able to send your forces as fodder to complete any given mission. Being able to position your units accordingly as well as to minimize the enemies fortification on the battlefield is the key to victory and knowing what each of your soldiers can do will surely make it a whole lot easier when trying to conquer your foes.
The pacing of each battle can vary depending on the objective at hand which has led to a bit of inconsistency from one campaign to the next. Some matches will have to face off against a large enemy deployment and the goal is to wipe out all foes which can be a long drawn out battle while some other maps have you defending for a certain amount of turns which feel quite shorter than most. While Wargroove offers a variety of mission types, it would have been good to see a bit of similarity between one another to ensure that some of the missions didn’t feel as throwaway’s compared to others in its campaign. It isn’t something that would have occurred throughout the games 12 campaign’s, but were still noticeable when some missions would drag on for an eternity and others were quick and easy.
Besides the game’s campaign, Wargroove also offers a variety of multiplayer and coop options both through local and online channels. These vary from quickplay’s and hosted matches and Nintendo Switch owners will have the opportunity to play in handheld mode with up to four players, passing around the device on a per-turn basis, but the real content lies within both of Wargroove‘s map and campaign editors. These modes allow for players to create their own Wargroove experience and maps that are easily shareable online for all others to enjoy at their leisure. These creative modes are most impressive as it is easy to draw up a map and to make an entirely unique campaign for you or your friends to enjoy.
Visually, Wargroove looks closer to a retro-styled Fire Emblem title with a mix of the charm and more silly nature of Advance Wars. Its GBA inspired display works extremely well with these type of experiences and the fine folks at Chucklefish did a great job in recreating such a display. What was surprising is the character dialogue and musical score which can range from a happy-go-lucky tune to a more serious and aggressive sound in a matter of minutes to set the mood of any scenario at hand. Out of all of this, the most impressive aspect is the character art, which is vastly unique to any other title in the genre and having all the various factions to play through gives a detailed look to each and every unit the game has to offer.
One thing to note is that the PC version (used for this review) had a strange issue with the sound effects were they would mute out for several seconds at a time only to come back moments after. Another minor technical issue was the game crashing once during the intro cinematic, but these seem to be random occurrences in my personal experience rather than actually being a persistent problem to anyone else and once again, these were very few and far in-between and for the most part, Wargroove ran exceptionally well without any lag or delay, even when playing with others online.
The greatest asset that Wargroove has to offer is that it is priced favorably at $22.79 CAD by most digital retailers but could have easily have been closer to what most third-parties charge for a AAA release which makes this a bargain for anyone looking to add an amazing entry to their catalogue. Its replay value may hinge on how fast you go through the games 12 campaigns as well as how much time you want to spend on the level editor and or multiplayer options, but being able to create your own story does allow you to return to Wargroove with a completely different experience that no one else will have.
While Wargroove does much to accommodate new and veteran players as well as offering so many different ways to experience the title, these tactical strategy games aren’t for everyone, especially when getting in the later stages of the entry. Some levels may need a few tries and with the game being more of a traditional turn-based entry, it is far easier to get frustrated when losing a match after dedicating so much time into it. For those who are looking for a decent challenge and are ok in investing so much time on a single battle, even if there is to be some trial and error involved, then Wargroove is absolutely right for you, but you may want to look away if you were expecting a faster-paced title.
Chucklefish’s indie title Wargroove excels in being a fantastic tactical turn-based game but does so much more to make it stand out from anything else in the genre that it borrows inspiration from. The lovable design is met with a long drawn out campaign and unique story that will have you strategizing for hours on end and playing with others is just an added bonus to what is both an amazing single and multiplayer experience. If you haven’t gotten a chance to go and pick up a copy of Wargroove, you owe it to yourself to make the time to do so as there hasn’t been a better turn-based strategy game in a long time.