Wargroove from Chucklefish Games is a turn-based, strategy war game that has a bright and colourful aesthetic. PC, Xbox and Switch owners have already been playing Wargroove for a while, so PS4 players can now finally join in!
This game has you following Queen Mercia and her loyal followers, on their journey to reclaim their lands from the necromancer Valder and his army of undead units. Along the way you will encounter a varied battlefield of enemies. Each new enemy comes with their own look and special abilities, that keep each mission feeling different.
The story is pretty simple as you try to avenge the murder of your father, and reclaim the Cherrystone Kingdom from the Felheim Legion. As you progress you will meet new characters that become playable in the arcade mode. Side quests open up the opportunity for you to play as characters from outside Cherrystone, and offer a new challenge. Despite the simple story line, I felt myself invested in it just from the delivery style. Most of the story is delivered through speech boxes, but odd lines are spoken and it is these lines that offer feelings.
The campaign plays out on varying size maps where you normally have to defeat the enemy commander, destroy a stronghold or protect villagers. The tutorial is built into the story missions, which I feel is the best way to do it. Units, heroes, terrain and other battle mechanics are introduced gradually meaning your are not overwhelmed at the start.
The pixel-art style this game has is beautiful. The animations of units attacking and the cut scenes for the story are presented in little postcard like screens. The battlefields are colourful and a pleasure to move your units around. However, don’t let the friendly looks trick you though, this game is a challenge. I found myself putting the difficultly down whilst I was learning the ropes.
Chucklefish Games have done a great job of keeping a good depth of strategic play, while not overwhelming you with button combos and complicated skill trees. Each hero has their own special ability, whether it be a healing orb or inspiring units to have a 2nd turn. Units have their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to perform critical attacks when certain requirements are met.
The game looks beautiful and watching your little units on the battlefield is great, but you will soon discover that this game deserves your full attention. Planning which units fight together or keeping certain units away from particular enemy units is a must. Lose a battle and you will need to start it all again, just to add to the need to pay attention.
Factor in that you also need to build your army in most missions, and understanding your units becomes even more important. You will need to capture village buildings to earn gold each turn, which can then be spent producing 1 unit a turn per barracks. Do you build knights who can travel the battlefield quickly but cost a lot? Or flood the battlefield with cheaper swordsmen? It all comes down to what your enemy has and how you like to play.
Everything is presented to you in a simple and clear way, you are not overwhelmed by menus but instead a simple press of ‘O’ while a unit is selected will give you all the information you need. Seeing as every army has the same units, visually different but same stats, you can quickly start to learn how to plan out your battle. Add in the battle preview that clearly displays the expected damage each unit will take during that encounter, and you can easily select the best units.
There is a codex section as well that you gradually open up as you progress through the game. Here you can find out much more detail about units and commanders. I managed to play through the game just fine using the information given during the story, but it was good to see more details were put into the game for those who like that.
On top of the single player mode, you also have an arcade and puzzle mode as well as multiplayer. Arcade mode allows you to practice your play style as any hero you have unlocked from the campaign. Puzzle mode challenges you to defeat your enemy in a single turn. But multiplayer is where your skills will really be tested. You can enjoy either local or online multiplayer, and player made maps are available from across all platforms, but no cross-play unfortunately.
The only negative of this game is that PS4 owners have had to wait so long to get their hands on it. I loved the art-style of this game, most probably turned off the animations but I kept them on throughout. Watching my little units attack in their postcard visual never got old. However, what made this game great was the deep strategy hidden behind the visuals. Battles could quickly turn in any direction depending on your choices. Don’t let the visuals put you off Wargroove, it is certainly worth giving a go and I am confident once you start you won’t stop.