Developer: Pixelated Milk
Publisher: Crunching Koalas
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
Category: Strategy, Role-Playing
No. of Players: 1 Player
Release Date: October 1st, 2020 (Worldwide)
WARSAW is a WWII tactical RPG game that first released on Steam back in October 2019. It saw mostly positive reviews from critics and has seen fit to release on Nintendo Switch a year later after its initial release.
Though the story revolves around mostly fictional characters, WARSAW is based on the true events of the Polish Uprising in 1944 against the Nazi oppression and occupation of the city of Warsaw.
The year is 1944. Fed up of the Nazi Occupation in Warsaw, Poland, the Polish Home Army has been reduced to little more than an underground resistance. After being given the go-ahead from the Polish Government in exile, the resistance commences Operation Tempest, to spark an uprising in the country’s capital, Warsaw.
The resistance fighters are ill-equipped in comparison to their oppressors. However, the Nazi forces begin to struggle with fighting both the Allied forces on the Western Front and the Soviets to the East. The Polish Uprising sees an opportunity to strike back and reclaim their beloved country.
As mentioned before, WARSAW is a tactical RPG game set in the final years of World War II. You are tasked with managing the Polish Uprising by undertaking missions to resupply your forces, fight back against the Nazis and maintain the morale of the inhabitants of Warsaw whilst trying to survive the onslaught for the next 63 days.
The missions have two distinct means of gameplay. The first part has you moving a marker around a map of the district you are in. You can find supply crates, enemies and story elements that play out like a visual novel. As you move about, you will use Action Points (AP). You will need to accomplish your mission before you use up all of your AP otherwise you will fail the mission.
Enemies are presented in several ways on the map. They can be idle, alert but with limited visibility or on high alert with high visibility. The former is just a single icon in which you can decide to engage or not. The latter two will have a red circle surrounding them, signifying their line of sight. If you get caught inside the red circle, you will be forced to engage in combat.
Combat is a turn-based affair that has both sides square off against each other. You take it in turns using the available skills at your disposal. Each turn has a number or moves you can make with the opponent usually retaliating after each move. In order to win the battle, you must kill all of the opposing forces. Plan your attacks carefully as any units that you lose will be dead permanently. Some losses may be essential to ultimate victory but you don’t risk your personnel so nonchalantly, especially if you have spent ages buffing them up with other skills and perks (more on that in a bit).
After claiming victory in the battle, you will earn experience and return to the map to continue your mission. When you are “in the field”, there are field items in your inventory that you can use. These are the compass, flare gun and camouflage jacket. The camouflage jacket will let you slip under the enemy radar undetected, allowing you to sneak up on them in an ambush. The compass will spend your action points slowly giving you more time to explore the area. The Flare gun is one of the most helpful in that it will display any enemies, supply crates or, side story elements in your immediate area.
When you are successful in completing your mission objectives, you will be able to hold down the A button to finish the mission and return to the hideout. The Hideout is a hub of sorts that will allow you to use the experience points earned by your fighters to assign new skills and perks. You can earn medals in-game as well that you can use to give extra experience points to any fighter you want.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
As regards game features, they can be accessed at the hideout. The hideout is where you can take on new missions, as well as to enlist new recruits, check your codex on enemies you have encountered, the heroes who have joined your cause, and weapons. You can also check the fighters who are currently in the infirmary or who have died in the Morgue. Most importantly, you can buy or sell resources like ammo and field items.
It is worth spending time in the hideout between missions as you can learn more about your characters and the enemies you are facing thanks to the Codex. It is a handy little feature that gives you information on the stats for each enemy. It can help you plan according to in which areas you wish you buff your own fighters so they can hold their own should they have to face a particularly strong enemy.
The music and sound effects for WARSAW are very nicely done and fitting for a game of this caliber. Opting for a somber soundtrack and near-realistic sounds for the likes of gunfire and explosions.
Voice acting plays a small part in the cries and verbal reactions of the characters and opposing forces in Polish and German. I respect the length of detail the developers went to maintain the level of authenticity by using the native tongues as opposed to accented English, which would have dampened the experience somewhat.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
I love the hand-drawn/painted visuals that are used in WARSAW. While it may desensitize the violence depicted in the game to seem more comical, the grim backdrops and sullen expressions on the characters’ faces still keep the horror of war feeling very real. The whole game feels much like a storybook with a very real threat rooted in its core. The use of dulled tones further accentuates the hallowed nature of the game.
The performance of WARSAW on Nintendo Switch holds up pretty well but I have noticed a number of glitches. I have had a few instances where menu screens do not load up properly in the Hideout. Sometimes, pressing the A button is not recognized and I have to press it several times. I even had the game freeze in the middle of combat. I had to reset the game but was fortunate to learn that the game autosaved immediately before I entered the battle and was able to continue on.
I also learned this could be exploited should you someone die in battle. You can reset the game and restart with all characters still alive. You will still go back into battle but you can try new strategies that may end with a more fortuitous victory and no casualties on your side.
WARSAW was not a game that was initially on my radar. However, I have been playing more and more war games as of late and thought I should give it a go. I became more and more intrigued by the storytelling from a different point of view that we don’t really see much of. We hear a lot about the Allies and their experiences and that of the Nazi German forces. It was educating and refreshing to learn about the Polish accounts of World War II.
As for the gameplay, I enjoy the strategic elements in that some battles you can choose to fight or not. Obviously, I won’t earn as much XP at the end of the mission but at least I know that my team will be in better health. The different enemy units and the array of skills keep the game from feeling too repetitive and give the opportunity to try new methods of attacks.
WARSAW is all about hardship and suffering. The difficulty arc ramps up as you progress through the game so I would recommend playing on an easier difficulty if it is your first time with WARSAW. You can choose the difficulty when first booting up a save file but after that, there is no option to lower or raise it afterward.
WARSAW is a great game with a compelling story and engaging combat. Though it may feature fictional characters, the events that take place are very real from recent history. Survival is the main priority of the game and if you enjoy Tactical RPGs that are not too time consuming, You should definitely give this game a try.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
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