Wargroove is a turn-based RTS game that was developed and published by indie studio Chucklefish. It was released on PC, Xbox, and Switch in February 2019, and later saw a PlayStation release in July 2019.
After the King of Cherrystone is killed by a member of the vampire clan, a war breaks out. Mercia was off training when she heard the news of her father’s death, and ran home as fast as she could. With the role of Queen now thrust upon her, she must decide if she sits in the castle and works from there, or travels the lands, gaining allies, to help fight the war with her. Well obviously she does the latter!
The main game’s story is a bit bland, if I’m being honest. Nothing exciting or riveting ever really happened, as you hop from country to country, finding new allies, and convincing them to help you. There is one part that has a bit of a twist, but the way the story plays out it was very obvious in the long run. But the game is also filled with side missions, and stories pertaining to these side missions. Like some characters having friendly skirmishes, or an annoying hungry creature stalking everyone because why not. But the absolute best storyline in the game is about Caesar the dog always stopping a group of thieves. Every time they think they hit a score, the dog ruins their day. It always made me laugh and smile and see how the storyline went.
Aside from the main story, there’s also a DLC story that can be played in “co-op” if you’d like. I did a few levels in co-op but it felt a bit annoying and pointless to keep swapping a controller back and forth. The storyline in the DLC is short and sweet, and clearly takes place after the main story, but it never had me interested either. Mostly because the levels felt so long, that it was hard to care afterwards.
If you ever played Advance Wars back in the days of Gameboy Advance, you’ll feel right at home. The game is such an homage to that series that it’s fantastic. Every level you’re put on a map and there’s structures all over the place to capture that help you gain gold every round. As you do this, you can start building up your forces, and depending on what difficulty you play on, you have to be super strategic about it all. Should you make a Spearman, or an Archer? Do you make a dog unit to help scope out some areas, or save until you can make a trebuchet that will eventually tear down everything around you? I’m not a tactical genius by any stretch of the imagination, so after the first little bit of the game, I had to turn it down from Hard, which is the default setting, to Easy. This made the game super fun, because I could just build what I wanted and not have to overthink anything. But at the same time, that made the game lose a bit of the essence that it so strives for.
Every unit is weak or strong against other units. The more damage they take, the less damage they do. So not only do you have to think about placing your units and how best to use them, you also have to think of the terrain. Do you hide them in a tree for extra defense, or do you pair them up on the road. Every unit also has a condition for them to do more damage. If Archer’s don’t move when they attack, they do more damage. If Pikemen are side by side, they do more damage. If you have a Harpy over a mountain, they do more damage. This is all stuff you have to constantly be thinking of to do well, and it’s fantastic. But on Easy, all I had to do was make dragons and I won! Yay!
The one biggest issue I had with the game is that after the main story is done and over with, you have an epilogue chapter. Now this epilogue chapter I’d unlocked by getting 100 stars. You get stars based on how well you did in every level, but on Easy, I was locked to only being able to get one star per mission. No matter what. So after the main story, I only had 50 stars. So I did the DLC story obviously, because it was more story. After that I only had about 9 more stars. So I hopped to a puzzle mode, which would’ve been absolutely impossible without a guide, but it was still a bit tedious to follow these guides, and that only gave me 25 more stars. So I was sitting around 83 stars at this rate. So I took a try at the last game mode I hadn’t tried yet, Arcade.
For Arcade mode, you pick a commander character to play as, and you’re set on a series of five battles, with randomized maps. I played these on Normal, just so I could get 3 stars per run, as opposed to one. That way I could do about six runs, as opposed to all 17. Or 16. I forget the exact number. But as I was doing these, the maps were either really small so it all went quick, or the maps were so large, the battles dragged out for so long, so I ended up getting so bored. Surprisingly enough, the AI is really dumb on normal at least. They’d focus on just one side and I’d push down the other while keeping them half busy on the side they decided to go down. I just wish I didn’t have to employ basically the same strategy for 30 battles in a row.
Now something that is absolutely amazing, is the user generated content you can download on the game. Ranging from new maps for multiplayer, to random maps with events that you can do, like seeing how long you can survive, or the best part, full blown campaigns. I downloaded quite a bit of content and tried them. I only got a few missions into a few campaigns just to see how well people make content, and I was blown away. I wish I was a better creator and the community was still active on PlayStation, because it would be perfect to make my own story with. But at least there’s a ton to play!
- Fantastic Homage
- Amazing Strategy Gameplay
- Tons Of User Generated Content! TONS!
- Stories Aren’t The Best
- Arcade Mode Is Boring
- Epilogue Is Locked Out If You’re Not Great At The Game
Wargroove is one of the best homages I’ve ever seen to Advance Wars. It makes you feel wonderful when you master the strategic gameplay, it’s fun to crush your enemies under your boot on easy, and there’s so much user generated content to play. I just wish the story was more interesting, the puzzles weren’t so insane, and the arcade didn’t feel so monotonous. But if I ever go back, it’ll definitely be for the community content because it was amazing!