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Posted by GG Goblin On February - 12 - 2019

Get your groove on with swords, spears and armoured doggies.

Strategy games on consoles have always been a bit of a hard sell. That is, except for the Advance Wars series of games that managed to make the tactical turn-based genre accessible to pretty much everyone. While there hasn’t been a new Advance Wars game for quite some time, Chucklefish have stepped up to the plate to offer their own take on the genre, with obvious inspiration taken from the popular series. Wargroove, despite the name, doesn’t involve any dancing or rhythm-based shenanigans, but rather offers some utterly enthralling turn-based strategy for all players across a variety of different platforms. Thank you Chucklefish.

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With a fantasy setting, Wargroove weaves an interesting, if slightly generic, story involving the assassination of a king, an invasion of the undead, and a newly crowned warrior queen who will have to gather allies and fight back evil. While the story, which is expanded upon with little cut scenes in-between battles, may not be that surprising, the charm of the characters carries the game forward. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, which just adds to the charm.

However, none of this is of any importance compared to the gameplay. This is where Wargroove really shines, and those who have history with the Advance Wars series will feel right at home here. First up, the player will be slowly introduced to the various different mechanics of the game through a selection of small tutorial missions. Wargroove does a great job of slowly adding new features, so that the more casual players, those new to the genre, can pick up everything they need to know before the game becomes more difficult. Again, Wargroove is very accessible.

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So, missions play out on a map that is divided into a grid. During the players turn, they will move their units around the map according to their movement allowance and environmental factors, and then perform actions, which will usually involve attacking. There isĀ  a nice variety of different units available through the game, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses, so players will need to learn what works best against what, in a rock, paper, scissors way, to make their lives easier. Once the player has had their turn, the AI will take theirs.

When battle commences, the two units that are fighting it out will be presented in a split-screen cut scene facing each other, and then each unit, or group of units, will take a turn to attack. Obviously the various strengths or weaknesses of each unit will be taken into account, along with things like ranged attacks, and then individual units will fall as the overall unit takes damage. At this most simple level, the game is quite easy to understand.

But there is far more going on than just moving units into range and attacking. Units will have different special abilities that have to be taken into account, and various different terrain types add yet more strategy. Buildings can be captured by moving the appropriate unit in, and these buildings can provide an income for creating new units. Units will have a cost depending on how powerful they are in battle, and the barracks that can spawn them also have to be captured, and each barrack can only spawn one unit per turn. This adds further planning to the strategy as the player decides when to spawn new units, and when to save up for something more powerful. They also then have to take into account that the opposing AI will be doing the same thing, and so there may be a race to capture buildings or villages, or even liberate those captured by the enemy. Add in powerful commander units with their own special abilities, along with a nice variety of different units, and you have a very deep tactical experience.

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This is all taking place in the lengthy campaign mode and, as the game progresses, things get more difficult. Battles can also get longer, and at some points almost too long, dragging on that little bit beyond what is comfortable. Another downside is that eventual failure during a long mission will see the player lose all of that time and progress, which can be frustrating.

Despite the rising difficulty and the potential frustration of lengthy missions, Wargroove still manages to be incredibly accessible and inviting. To that end, players are treated to much more beyond the lengthy campaign mode. Arcade mode, for example, offers somewhat less arduous battles at the players chosen difficulty with a variety of different commanders, while the puzzle mode will drop the player into a situation and challenge them to achieve the goals. Both of these modes offer a great deal of extra content. Then there is both online and local multiplayer, which can really ramp up the competitiveness. Wargroove works great locally with friends, while playing online is a little trickier to find an opponent but, given the fact that the game is cross platform for its online side, should get easier as more players discover this great game.

Finally, pandering to the creative types, there is a quite in-depth map and campaign editor, where players can create their own battle maps with a fairly concise set of tools, and then share them with the community. Of course, that means that players can download community maps into their own games, further bolstering the amount of content available.

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With its retro visuals and Advance Wars style gameplay, it could be quite easy to see how Wargroove wouldn’t be taken seriously by either strategy fans or those new to the genre. However, dig a little deeper and there is a game with the accessibility to bring newcomers to the turn-based strategy genre, and the complexity to keep any armchair general happy. Packed with enough content to keep gamers going for ages, and the charm to put a smile on their faces, Wargroove is a turn-based tactical gem.




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