Due to the lack of new Advance Wars games, numerous fans of the series (me included) have been waiting eagerly for Wargroove to release. After numerous delays and rescheduled release windows, the game was finally made available for the XBox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on February 1, 2019 with the PS4 version to follow within the year.
Wargroove includes Arcade and Puzzle modes aside from a full single-player campaign along with Local and Online multiplayer. The game also allows asynchronous multiplayer. This allows people to play with each other without the pressure to complete a match in a single session. I hope to see this feature in more turn based games in the future, since it’s a handy thing to have for working adults who can’t spend more than a few hours a day on video games.
The game’s codex and combat info screen includes a ton of useful information ranging from world building and character lore to unit types and damage matrices. Knowing mechanics like how units behave in combat (including the way they have different criteria for landing critical hits) and how terrain affects movement and defense will help players effectively plan out their offensive over the course of a mission.
Unit movement and combat mechanics operate like one would expect similar to top-down tactics games like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem. I found it a bit annoying when an auto-deselect happens when highlighting a tile beyond the unit’s movement and attack range.
Friendly units act as obstacles and can block their comrades from passing through their tile, sometimes leading to dangerous situations where unintended choke points grant the enemy a considerable advantage. Scratch that, I’m an idiot. Available movement tiles placed across allies will appear grayed out but can be accessed by the unit.
I’m actually impressed with the AI in this game. It actually adapts to unit distribution across the map and makes sure to keep their “king” assets defended. This is in contrast to some AI implementations in similar games where the enemy simply pumps out units acting like they have a production quota. The enemy AI in Wargroove also changes their army composition based on what units the enemy army has.
The unit variety allows tactical flexibility and will sometimes surprise players and force them to adapt to situations such as enemy reinforcements and hard unit counters. Having different factions keeps the battlefield varied and interesting with different sprites. The game also has attack dogs. Cute but deadly attack dogs.
Cutscenes are peppered with voice clips and units let out battle cries when attacking. The attack animations are satisfying to watch, but may become frustrating because of the time melee units use to “move” across terrain towards their targets. These animations, along with cutscenes, can be skipped by holding a button (B for the Switch) for about three seconds.
One thing I haven’t been able to try yet is the map editor. With this feature, players will be able to make and share their own maps and campaigns with others. The editor is optimized really well based on how reddit user beautiful_pony maxed out units and buildings without noticing any slowdown.
To show just how extensive the creation tool is, check out GameXplain’s review video complete with custom cutscenes as the video introduction:
I doubt that I’ll have enough time to make my own custom campaign, but the idea itself is very tempting.
I’ve only played Wargroove for a few hours but I really love the overall feel of the game. The sprites are cute, animation is fluid, and combat mechanics are challenging but fair. I’ve found myself thinking hard on how to play out my turn to minimize casualties and properly advance through the map towards objectives.
+Amazing aesthetics – vibrant colors, cute sprites
+Well done animations and cutscenes
+Huge variety of game modes
+Extensive map editor
-Attack animations can take too much time
-Unit selection and control is a little iffy
With all of the modes and features they’ve packed into this game, it’s an easy recommendation to make whether you’re a long time fan of turn based strategy games or a newbie to the genre. At $20 you’ll get way more than your money’s worth.
I still have Diablo III eating away my game time but I’m looking forward to unlocking all content and completing all mission stars.