Review – Wargroove
This gen has had a lot of ‘spiritual sequels’ to older franchises, and the latest hit PC, Switch, and Xbox One today as Wargroove brings back the turn-based tactical combat antics that fans of Nintendo’s Advance Wars games have been craving since Days of Ruin hit the DS in 2008.
Wargroove hews close to the Advance Wars formula from the start, featuring a tile-based map and turn-based combat between your army and enemy forces, with both sides building their respective army by taking control of buildings that either summon units or generate gold to pay for those forces.
Special commander units help swing the tide of battle with the use of a special ability – their ‘Groove’ – that needs to charge in order to use. These abilities charge naturally over time, with the charge time shortened by defeating enemies. This simple mechanic adds considerable depth to the player’s tactical decision making, offering a sizable reward – and a suitably punishing penalty – for putting their commander unit in harm’s way. Lose your commander and it’s game over, but charging up a Groove that will heal all nearby units could swing a close battle in your favour – so is it worth the risk?
Regular units also have conditions the player needs to be aware of to maximize their damage potential. Pike units, for example, will always get a critical hit in combat if they’re standing next to another pike unit, while horse-riding knights will get a critical if they moved their max range before attacking. For many battles, these min-max tweaks don’t make much difference, but when going for a three-star rating on a tough fight it’s essential to get the most out of your troops.
Each new missions gives some new twist, like a new unit or mission type, which helps the game keep feeling fresh. The story is lighthearted and, at times, funny – but it’s ultimately forgettable as it takes a back seat to the excellent gameplay and huge amount of replay value thanks to the inclusion of Arcade and Puzzle modes, as well as a full-fledged editor.
The editor could really have been its own release, allowing you to create and share your vision of a new map, a new level, or an entirely new campaign. Custom creations are available across the PC, Switch, and Xbox One, but at this point are not going to be supported when the game hits PS4 later in 2019.