Amongst many other World War II-centered video game titles that thrive in the Nazi killing business, WARSAW succeeds in giving players that same satisfaction in a universe where an Uprising is pitted against the dreadful forces of the Germans in a time where bloodshed was everywhere.
From the developers of the top-down tactical RPG Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs comes forth an alternative take in the genre in another traditional and recognizable sense of tactical elements set within Warsaw, Poland, where the many faces of Polish civilization make a stand against the opposing German forces. In the game, players will pick through a variety of Poland denizens to fight off the mean-faced Nazis in a journey that will go through a violent chapter in history within a time where the world was on fire.
When it comes to commonplace turn-based titles, the mechanics and atmosphere of WARSAW are quite noticeable. After selecting your Insurgents (the heroes you basically control and grow) in the Hideout section of the game, you’ll then proceed to picking a mission on a map, stacked with information and essential data about the Morale and Attrition that’s attached with impending objectives.
"When it comes to commonplace turn-based titles, the mechanics and atmosphere of WARSAW are quite noticeable."
From the top-down navigation of the map of Poland to the transition of basic turn-based gameplay, WARSAW proceeds to be a casual clicker of a game. While I encountered a good number of deaths toward my posse of fighters, it felt nonetheless spectacular to land a kill on a Nazi. For a turn-based tactical game, it’s very satisfying to see that blood squib pop whenever you manage to put some lead into the opposing side – with hope that you and your whole squad survives until the mission comes to an end. But aside from all of the Nazi-killing glory, the gameplay feels like one of those free apps you could get on your mobile device. The skills and weapons are down to the bare minimum, and strategizing your next move merely takes a second of thought. It turns into a moderate experience at that point, and the action can become slightly boring after some time. Of course, you can skip a turn or move your characters to a specific spot for attack and defense justifications, but that’s all there really is to it with the game’s combat system. And when in attack mode, there’s always a chance of landing or missing a shot toward the opposing side, which will end your turn and you’ll just have to wait after the Nazis land a perfect one on you.
The story elements, however, are exceptionally entertaining. The whole narrative concept of WARSAW in 1944 is non-linear, meaning any mix of characters you assemble and whatever “Event” you encounter will always be different, as well as the mission details and fights you come across. These chronicled “Events” occur during in-between segments of the game that act like a text-based computer adventure game that pins you with an interactive situation. One such Event (entitled “Ira”) leads to the final judgement of a man who was serving the Uprising after making a questionable call in the line of duty. Rewards such as supplies and Recruitments are possible to acquire through these, but it is still essential to consider your resources – even after a promising mini victory.
And when it comes to killing Nazis, evidently, it’s an act of heroism that never gets old. The whole notion of WARSAW is to imagine and feel the hope and bravery of these Polish fighters who stood up against the savage oppressors. It’s a “Once Upon a Time…” aesthetic that allows the player to proceed how they see fit in a game where it’s feasible to fight against the Germans in a few bloody ways. May it be with the rocket launcher by a barricade or a mow down with the machine gun – this game gives them the chance to do that in slow turn-based gameplay that affects the story elements with how you survive for morality or lose to savagery.
"After several campaigns – since dying occurs more than the actual exploration and progression in the game – I eventually cleared out a map after becoming acquainted with the flow of the controls and the skills I figured out through proper utilization."
In recent memory, a great number of indie titles have come out with some amazing musical scores, some even standing side-by-side with the triple A’s of the gaming industry. The classy jazz and harmonic tunes of the score in WARSAW is both soothing and cognizant of impending danger. A mix of violins and piano keys with accordions and operatic strings generates a wonderful 1940s sound that blends very well with the backdrop intensity of the game. The sound design is very on the nose regarding the overall action and response: it gives birth to this natural and unpretentious moment of gameplay as if you were feeling the recoil and passion on the battlefield.
As aforementioned, the gameplay feels very similar to a mobile game – the case can be said for the graphics. Aside from the slick-looking top-down feature where you scout and trigger encounters through the map of war-infested Poland with your squad of Insurgents, the fighting animations and general feel of the characters and environments could easily feel as if I’m playing a mobile emulation on my PC. The blood squibs and action animations are a joy to watch, but due to the rudimentary gameplay mechanics, it becomes difficult to stay hooked. Albeit the Events and potential victories will keep one afloat to play the game for a good amount of time, the overall presentation and execution feels incomplete in terms of tactical RPG standards. Its cheap progression falls extremely short after being killed over and over again, only to restart the campaign with different factors to resources and an increase in personal frustration. After a while, I lost interest in starting up another campaign since the circumstances and results were going to be nearly indistinguishable from the last run.
After several campaigns – since dying occurs more than the actual exploration and progression in the game – I eventually cleared out a map after becoming acquainted with the flow of the controls and the skills I figured out through proper utilization. It’s a somewhat light-hearted but fun clicker, as previously stated, yet it’s not enough to keep coming back to. It remains a title in my library that I’ll occasionally open to get that sweet Tarantino-esque ultraviolence to lay on those Nazi criminals, though after a short while, my interest began to decline when I try to force myself to fancy it. And with the lack of experience points and incentive to progress with the Insurgents you already have stored at Hideout, there’s not a lot of replay value to depend upon here. The absence of heart-filled character development and imperative RPG elements make WARSAW a passable pixelated war experience.
"Once the playthrough of a few campaigns is completed, the repetitive nature of the violent encounters with the Nazis and familiar progression can only play out for so long."
Once the playthrough of a few campaigns is completed, the repetitive nature of the violent encounters with the Nazis and familiar progression can only play out for so long. Sure, you’ll get a big kick out of blasting away your enemies with the rocket launcher or the hunting rifle after applying some First Aid for a wounded mate, but it isn’t sufficient to the point where I would return to this title in due time. There are other virtual worlds where you could live out your Nazi-slaying fantasies – WARSAW just might be in the middle ground when it comes to that category. It’s only enjoyable for as long as you see fit. For tactical turn-based adventures, I’m afraid this one might just be below the radar.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Great score composed that accompanies nearly every aspect of the game; killing Nazis never gets old; story elements keeps things intriguing.
Basic gameplay that feels too close to mobile games; boring progression that leads to disinterest in restarting campaigns; action can sometimes be frustrating when attempting to land an attack on your enemies.