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Gaming Corner: ‘WarGroove’

Designed by Ray Gill
(Designed by Ray Gill | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


In the world of gaming, there is a niche market that has a dedicated fanbase — tactics games. These games, including “Fire Emblem,” “Final Fantasy Tactics” or “Valkyria Chronicles” are strategy games, similar to chess or Go Fish, where decision-making is the determining factor of whether you win or lose. Chucklefish Games have their fingers in a lot of genre pies, so to speak, and this is their newest example. Their latest, from the Makers of “Stardew Valley” and “Starbound,” is one of the best tactic games of our time: “WarGroove.”

When the Felheim Forces are led by the Valder, wielding the necromantic Fell Gauntlet, into invading Cherrystone, a war starts and leaves the new Queen Mercia to flee. Along the way, Mercia, her royal advisor and expert mage Emeric and her loyal companion Caesar will join forces with the other factions, the Floran and Heavensong, in a hope to find a way to defeat Valder and his generals.

The story of this game is told through the game itself, but you can also get lore bits from getting a certain ranking in a stage. This is something a lot of games have been doing for a while now, but it’s done exceptionally well here. It does not reprimand you for not checking that one little corner for that one page that has an itty bitty fact that makes the whole story make sense. (I’m looking at you, “Outlast 2.”) “WarGroove” just supports completionists who decide to invest time into the game with little tidbits of lore that are not necessarily important to the story, but flesh out the world that you are playing in.

On top of a campaign that runs for 20 or more missions, not including the several optional side missions, the game includes an arcade mode, a puzzle mode and a multiplayer option.

In arcade mode, players fight a gauntlet of five commanders and their armies in search of the mysterious “Requiem.” This mode plays just like an arcade mode would from something like “Street Fighter” or “Soulcalibur” — it’s just one long run that tests your mettle against the skilled AI.

Puzzle mode, however, is one of the harder tests of skill in this entire game. All of the puzzles are fairly small maps with only a few units, but players only have a single turn to complete the challenge, whether that is getting a civilian across a bridge or killing all of the enemies’ units.

Then, finally, is my favorite mode: multiplayer. You can play online or with friends locally. I played the latter, enjoying a couple of four-player and three-player games that all went for several hours, usually lasting over 20 turns. Right out of the box, you can play as any of the three commanders from each of the four factions. There are 12 Commanders in total. Up to four players can battle on the maps provided, with variations on terrain and size that keep each game interesting. Some maps are a little more balanced than others, but they all still work.

Did you play through all of the multiplayer maps? Then don’t worry, because the people at ChuckleFish have added infinite possibilities with a map-maker. This is huge for tactics games as a whole because this is one of the only map-makers for a game of this style. That is amazing. You can remake maps from the campaign or anything you can think of, really. It could be giant or tiny, with as much detail as you want. Plus, it’s not limited to just maps. You can design your own campaigns and cutscenes, which is awesome, to say the least. I can’t think of another game that lets you do this.

This function is made possible by the art and animations, features which are simple yet beautiful. For a cutscene maker, it is pretty in depth. With all of the characters’ animations on-demand and different backgrounds and weather options to choose from, it’s essentially a “WarGroove” fan-fiction machine, which is pretty radical. Players can also share their creations online for the world to play, which makes re-playability infinite as long as the community stays engaged.

There are some noticeable problems with the map-maker. The controls are a little sticky and rough around the edges, but this could be fixed in updates. It is difficult to navigate the beaches and I never quite learned how to maximize efficiency. Mirroring something on a large map felt very tedious, largely because it lacked a zoom out function.

However, the good in this game far outweighs the bad. Overall, “WarGroove” is a king in a niche market with plenty to do and maybe more options along the way. You never know if Chucklefish has some DLC in mind.

Rating: 8.8 / 10

Available on Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. (I played on the Switch.)

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