It’s been a great time to be a strategy game fan recently. They Are Billions mixes RTS and tower defense into a stressful, innovative experience. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden sprinkles in some stealth on top of an excellent turn-based strategy formula. Fire Emblem: Three Houses brought the series back to consoles after a number of handheld releases. However, of all the strategy games to be released in recent memory, Wargroove proudly stands amongst the best, and now, a few months after its initial release, PlayStation 4 owners finally have a chance to get their hands on this incredibly charming gem.
Game Name: Wargroove
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: February 1, 2019 (PC, Switch, Xbox One), July 23, 2019 (PS4)
Remember Advance Wars? Wargroove sure does.
Wargroove is a love letter to Advance Wars, bringing back everything that made the series so great while adding its own unique flair and personality on top. Don’t let the game’s bright, colorful visuals fool you though. This is a surprisingly deep strategy game with a whole lot of content to keep you busy.
Wargroove sees you leading your army to victory across a lengthy campaign, a fun arcade mode, and a challenging puzzle mode. The campaign is fairly interesting and serves as an introduction to the game’s mechanics and characters. The King of Cherrystone has been assassinated and now young Mercia must lead her people and thwart an enemy invasion. The plot definitely takes a backseat to gameplay (Fire Emblem this is not), but the dialogue is endearing and there were a few bits that got a chuckle out of me every now and then. The campaign does begin to drag a bit in the latter half, particularly when battles start to get longer, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome for too long.
The arcade and puzzle modes are more gameplay-centric ordeals. Arcade mode tasks you with completing five maps in a row with one of the game’s 12 commanders, similar to arcade modes in fighting games. Puzzle mode presents you with a scenario and asks you to win the battle in only one turn, which can prove to be quite a challenge, especially as you reach the tail end of the provided puzzles. These two modes add hours of game time on top of an already beefy campaign. There’s a lot of single-player content in Wargroove, and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth when you pick up this game.
On top of the game’s robust single-player offerings are enjoyable multiplayer modes for both online and offline play. Sadly, the PlayStation 4 version of Wargroove is lacking the cross-play functionality that the other platforms have, and it hurts this version quite a bit if you don’t have anyone to play with. The PlayStation 4 playerbase is small, and searching for matches takes ages if you’re lucky enough to even find one. User-created maps are shared between platforms, however, so if you have some local or online friends, you can at least take advantage of the thousands of fantastic community creations out there (there are even entire user-created campaigns!).
There’s a lot of content here, and you’re going to have to spend a good amount of time playing if you plan on mastering Wargroove‘s surprisingly deep strategy mechanics. Units perform better under certain circumstances, so positioning during battles is critical. You always want your pikemen to be next to other pikemen, for example. These little rules start to add up once you amass a variety of units, and you’ll constantly be trying to optimize your units’ positioning when it’s your turn in a battle. Over time though, it becomes second nature, and you’ll really feel like a cunning commander when you know your troops are getting their sweet critical hits.
On top of your normal units, you also have a commander on the field. These commanders are faster and stronger than normal units and have unique special abilities called Grooves, and these can easily turn the tide of battle. These range from healing nearby units to blocking off enemy units to allowing allies to act again. Each of the game’s 12 commanders (one of which is a dog) has their own ability, and they each lend themselves nicely to certain playstyles. Using commanders effectively can be the difference between victory and defeat, and even though they’re stronger than other units, one bad mistake can get them killed, resulting in a game over.
You’ll be spending a lot of time with Wargroove as you learn the ins and outs of the game, and thankfully the game is very pleasing to the eye. Wargroove‘s pixel art is gorgeous, and the bright colors pop right out of the screen and give the game its own unique identity. Attack animations are fluid and pretty, but after a dozen hours of seeing the same animations, you’ll find yourself skipping them over and over. Still, Wargroove packs a ton of charm into its striking presentation and it definitely has some of the best pixel art I’ve seen in recent years.
Wargroove is an excellent strategy game with a ridiculous amount of content. The campaign drags toward the end and the game itself can get repetitive after a while, but you’ll have already put in tens of hours before you ever reach that point. This is a fantastic game and one that strategy fans should definitely not ignore. Once all of you are finished with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, maybe give Wargroove a shot. I promise you won’t regret it.
Review Disclosure Statement: Wargroove was provided to us by Chucklefish for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
If you like strategy games, you should without a doubt check out Wargroove. It takes the foundation that Advance Wars set so many years ago and expands upon it in new, exciting ways, topped with gorgeous pixel art and a good amount of charm. There’s a ton of content here, and there’s no shortage of user-generated content either. Wargroove is an incredibly robust package, and it’s one that fans of the genre should not miss.
- Gorgeous visuals
- Surprisingly deep strategy mechanics
- A ton of single-player content
- A wealth of user-created content
- Offline and Online Multiplayer
- Campaign drags toward the end
- Gets repetitive after a while
- Multiplayer is a ghost town