Wargroove landed on Switch and PC in February this year to rave reviews. The spiritual successor to Advance Wars (even though it isn’t really) had a peak audience which through word-of-mouth and pre-release buzz elevated it’s perhaps not a tall surprising to see it finally land on PS4 and Xbox One, where a significant player base had been wanting it. Me included.
So what’s all the buzz for? Well, Wargroove is a ridiculously deep, surprisingly so as on the surface this bright and breezy turn-based title has far more in its arsenal that perhaps I thought it was going to have. You command an army and your ultimate goal is to crush the base of your opponents, capturing villages and taking over bases so you can take on more of your opponents units. Each of the different units and their commanders have their own special known as the Groove, which can pretty much win the fight if utilised, and across the twenty or so units they have critical hits that are only able to activate if used under certain circumstances (moving a certain number of spaces and the like).
There’s a fair bit to be getting on with in Wargroove, too. There’s obviously the solo campaign, where the game really comes to life. The story isn’t going to win any Purlitzers but it’s fun enough to tie everything together in a harmless, charming kind of way. If I can break it down there’s a world-destroying weapon out there in the world and it’s up to you to stop evil armies from acquiring it after your country gets invaded. I mean, that’s about it really. It’s lovingly gifted with about as much depth as a Pierce Brosnan-era Bond movie, but thankfully the aforementioned charm offensive balances this out. One of your commanders is a frickin’ doggo. I could have just put that one line in this review and I get the feeling I could have sold a few more copies.
There’s a fair amount of trial and error involved in Wargroove, if you’ve not listened to our latest podcast episode I explain this genre isn’t in my particular wheelhouse, I’m not the best at strategy games and although I could pick up Wargroove fairly easily it did take the odd failure to see where I was going wrong. Typical in most games really but you assuredly feel more confident the longer the battles continue. I found Wargroove complex without being too difficult. It’s a very easy way to move into the genre, the same way Mario Rabbids eases you into XCOM.
It’s not without issues though. The lack of a reset or undo is jarring and can lead to instant failure purely because you’ve placed a commander or a unit in the wrong place accidentally. Having to restart a battle because of a single wrong movement meant was rather frustrating. Each move is definite and you know exactly what’s happened immediately and what’s about to come is going to wipe you off the map. Mistakes can’t be undone in any mode (it would have proven handy in the Arcade Mode where it’s a chain of five maps you must win in a row. Reaching the final map and making a dumb move is infuriating, knowing you can’t redo that particular turn.
Still, from a visual standpoint Wargroove looks delightful. It’s pixel perfect, looking fantastic on a flatscreen with colours falling out of the screen at all times. The animations of the attacks can be a little dull to watch a thousand times over but the alternative factions are coloured differently, adding a little bit of style as the game progresses. The audio is also a delight.
So this is a rather great port of a Switch and PC title. I reviewed the game on a PS4 Pro and it looks and feels fantastic. I haven’t yet played the game on either of the original systems though, and I get the feeling it would feel far more at home on them that it does on a console. As ever, with games such as They Are Billions proving that for strategy-esque games, you can’t really get much better than a touch screen or mouse and keyboard.
The strategy is deeper than I ever expected and is definitely a challenge later on. The game will punish you for your errors so attention is paramount. The strengths of Wargroove come from the visuals and the gameplay, relegating the story to second place but that’s absolutely no problem for me. In order to get the most out of this game I really had to fall into it and I’m glad I did. There’s plenty to love about Wargroove.
I mean, come on, one of your commanders is a Golden Retriever.
Wargroove is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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