As a big fan of the now sadly defunct Advance Wars series, the hankering for a proper, turn-based tactical strategy game has been nothing short of agonising. When developer and publisher Chucklefish announced Wargroove, it was like a dream come true.
Pixel art, beautiful animations, a proper tactical experience with depth, and challenging to boot, Wargroove feels like a perfect panacea to the tactical drought in gaming.
However, the only problem is that it arrives on the PS4 almost six months later than other platforms. While the quality of the game stands on its own, the fanfare and excitement have died down quite a bit.
But if you are jumping in regardless, Wargroove will reward you with a deep and tactical adventure that teaches you the basics, while presenting formidable challenges at every turn. That is a delicate balance to find, but throughout the majority of the lengthy campaign, tough but smart choices are often rewarded, even if a war of attrition can net you the same results at the expense of time.
With every unit possessing unique critical damage conditions, movement range, different attack and defence levels, and most importantly, strengths and weaknesses against certain enemies, management will test even the hardiest of commanders. In addition, the terrain types that can modify movement and defence can either broaden your options or spell your doom.
Holding chokepoints with a line of Pikeman is always a good idea, as they perform critical hits next to each other. On the other hand, that leaves them susceptible to long-range fire from a Treebuchet or ranged units like the Ranger. When and how you handle threats will be key to gaining victory in Wargroove.
There also commanders that will take the field at times, providing you with a beefier combatant that moves further and hit harder. They also possess an ability called a Groove, which charges from either attacking or being attacked.
Utilise them at the right time and they can be game-changers. Mercia, for example, can heal herself and allies around her, and Emeric summons a crystal that provides a defence buff in a large area, while Greenfinger can block off tiles with vines. Of course, the commanders are not all-powerful, and have their own strengths and weaknesses as well, so tread carefully.
The easiest way of getting into the groove of things is through the Campaign. Live the story of Queen Mercia and her journey eastward as she seeks to topple an evil necromancer, his undead army, and save the kingdoms.
With different scenarios, win conditions, and a story chocked full of engaging characters and charm, it is a timesink of the best kind. Simply completing levels will require a considerable amount of time, but to do so while getting S ranks on every one? It will be a long but fulfilling journey.
Outside of the campaign, Wargroove also has an Arcade mode, as well as a Puzzle mode. With 12 commanders (some are unlocked from the Campaign) to choose from, Arcade Mode is the perfect way to tune your strategies and hone your skills with each of the commanders. Learning their unique quirks and the ins-and-outs of their respective armies will stand you in good stead in future skirmishes.
Puzzle mode will train your brain to study situations carefully and analytically, requiring you to eliminate your enemies in just one turn. Considering the minutiae that goes into each unit, Puzzle mode will be an enjoyable time if you enjoy precision and deliberating over every move.
All those skills will be invaluable when you head to online or local multiplayer where up to four commanders can duke it out. Unfortunately, online games were a little hard to come by online, especially with PS4 not having cross-play, but once matchmaking gets you set up, things run generally smoothly.
Wargroove’s other claim to fame is its map editor, where members of the community can upload their own creations to share globally, and even make campaigns. Thankfully, the content created can be shared between platforms, and easily extends the shelf life of Wargroove tremendously.
Wargroove takes us back to a time where learning and mastering a game was key to succeeding. From mastering your commander, learning the terrain, picking your battles, to knowing the intricacies of each and every unit at your disposal, the strategic depth and excitement it brings is quite unparalleled in today’s landscape.
With the game finally on the PS4, a fully realised and robust Wargroove should not be missed by any tactical strategy fan. Its stunning pixel art, wonderful animations, charm, and the enjoyable gameplay moment-to-moment combines well with a challenging time that lets Wargroove shine while singing its own groovy tune.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Finally here on PS4, Wargroove is one strategic experience you would not wanna miss.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 7.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10