Wargroove (PS4) Review
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Publisher/Develo[per: Chucklefish Limited
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Switch, Xbox One, PC
February saw the release of Wargroove, a wonderful tactical RPG that I was able to review on Steam back then. Five months later, the title finally releases on PlayStation. There were many theories around the delay, with some of the more concrete ones being that the title was considered for the rare allowance of PS4 cross-play with other consoles. The developers at Chucklefish were told “in no uncertain terms” that it was not going to happen, despite developers saying they can “literally toggle a switch” to make it happen.
My original review of the game welcomed it warmly as a wonderful strategic/tactical RPG with plenty of depth. Gamers could play the well-crafted story, go online or hit the couch for multiplayer versus, and even create their own levels for unlimited fun. All of this has transferred over to the PlayStation version, including the level editor which was a welcome surprise for me considering I’d only ever played the PC edition. You can check out my February review here, but read on for a quick synopsis and some of the differences you’ll get playing on PlayStation.
Queen Mercia defends the Cherrystone Kingdom against the Felheim army, whilst also interacting with the Heavensong and Floran tribes. Wargroove differs itself from tactical RPGs like Fire Emblem by leaning toward the classics like BattleChess. Each army has certain units that look unique but by and large behave the same. Pikemen can do more damage when standing next to each other, rangers can boost their damage by not moving before they attack. Each faction may feel unique but you can see what each “piece” can do and react accordingly. Characters don’t level up or change through the story, though each individual captain can use their special “groove” to get you out of a sticky situation.
Gameplay consists of mowing down enemies, taking towns to earn gold, which can then recruit new units. Health is directly linked to damage, like if ten percent of your health is gone ten percent of your army’s troops have been slain which means they can now only do ninety percent damage. It’s a new kind of tactical idea, as you can attack with a strong unit and wear down an enemy before finishing them off with a weak unit. Done the other way, you end up with one less unit on the field. These kind of tactical decisions are very satisfying and fun.
Many of my criticisms of the game on Steam are still here: you might be one diagonal space from victory, but your turn ending results in the utter decimation of your troops. I wish there were more quality of life upgrades like seeing all of the enemy danger zones at once. The game is ideally created for a mouse and keyboard, as your cursor starts in the upper left hand corner and has to be manually moved around the battlefield. I was unable to find any kind of “quick swap” like tapping L or R in a Fire Emblem game. I still pine for grander, more dynamic battles but understand the strategy of the small field makes for a different experience. It also makes the frustrating “surprises” in story mode a bit more tolerable.
The elephant in the room can’t be pinned on the developers, that being the lack of cross-play. Sadly smaller games like Wargroove can be hurt by having small fanbases, and cross-play would allow more chances to find multiplayer games. The solo modes do provide plenty of entertainment and make the game an easy recommendation even if you never enter a multiplayer skirmish. If you have no other consoles, Wargroove is an easy recommendation for smart, tactical fun. After reviewing it twice, though, I can admit I see value in getting it on Switch one day still. The game will not tax your system and really lends itself to mobile play with it’s long-game strategy fights and the ability to craft maps as you see fit.As a whole, though, Wargroove is an amazing game no matter what system you play it on.
-Tactical RPG with classic chesslike gameplay
-Unique battle mechanics with offense directly tied to unit health
-A wonderfully adept set of difficulty sliders help you tailor the game to your liking
-Controls are still a little cumbersome, exacerbated by the lack of keyboard
-No levelling up means figuring out the pattern and no “brute force” option
-Sony’s insistence on eliminating crossplay when everyone else is playing together just fine
Special thanks to Chucklefish for providing a code for review!