Tuesday, 02 January 2018 05:22

WARTILE Early Access, Cont'd!

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Editor's Note: Click here for Trevor Talley's Early Access review of WARTILE, written in March, 2017.

I grew up in a world of fantasy.

Books written by Frank Herbert, Brian Jacques, and Robert Jordan were scattered throughout my house and were easily accessible to me. I spent countless hours imagining I was in those worlds, or recreating characters in video games like Final Fantasy, but somehow I never crossed the threshold into board games. Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer were on the periphery of my knowledge base, and it never struck me to expand into their worlds. As I got older, it became clear that I had missed an opportunity by ignoring the value that these game world could present to me.

Fast forward to 2017 and the capability to rectify a lifetime lost presents itself in the form of a title released by the studio Playwood Project named WARTILE. This studio is led by Michael Rud Jakobsen, who has worked as a designer on Hitman, and an artist on the 2nd Kayn and Lynch title and a few other members of a small team.

WARTILE is a creation that is meant to bridge the gap between a real time strategy and a tabletop games, with elements of card play mixed in. Figurine characters that you control begin scenarios on dioramas that are intricately designed and is comprised of many hexagonal tiles that characters move throughout. Each scenario has multiple objectives that are as simple as killing every enemy, and as complex as lighting tents on fire to prevent reinforcements, while also preventing an alarm from being sound when killing sleeping soldiers.

Prior to each scenario beginning, you are in control of a variety of customization and progression options, all of which are presented as though you were overlooking an actual table with figurines and a world map setup. Within this home screen you can customize your figurines with new weapons and skill tokens, as well as recruit new members to your team as they unlock through the progression of the storyline. Each of these figurines that you have the ability to deploy have strengths and weaknesses, such as spearmen, shirtless brutes, archers, and even woodland sorcerers.

Although it is nice being able to control different character for their unique roles in battle, I can’t help but feel that this is one of the few areas where the developers missed the mark within the game. Providing the ability to assign attribute points and allow for deep character storytelling created by the player would have been a fantastic addition.

Operating within a world that we feel connected to creates the foundation for why board games that WARTILE likens itself to have been so successful.

Without this level of customization, I can’t help but feel that more story development is needed. This could be done either from each figurine having a deep backstory and motivation itself, or even having some depth to the story at all. Instead of building arching storylines and a rich tapestry of the world you operate in though, you just complete one scenario after another, and then have the ability to replay the battle on a higher difficulty to earn more rewards.

Once inside of a scenario, and setting up for a battle, you are moving throughout the terrain in a timed format that isn’t quite turn based, and isn’t quite full speed. Instead, each individual piece on the board has their own timer system that resets when they are moved or perform an action. When moving your own band of characters, the enemy movement speed is slowed significantly, allowing a competitive advantage, but for the most part this game eschews the traditional super slow turn based format that has plagued so manner other tabletop style games in the past. There is a pro and con to this format, as being forced to move at this rapid speed inevitably leads to poor decision making due to lack of time to format new strategies in battle. Though the argument could be that this shifts the imbalance of the enemy not having special abilities into a more level playing ground because of the computers innate ability to problem solve the scenario quickly. Regardless of what stance is taken on this speed of battle, it certainly adds an element of frenetic decision making that ensures rapid progression in the game, and that is enjoyable and stressful in its own way.

The settings of your battles within the game are not only visually striking, but accompanied by a tremendous soundtrack that impresses. Not many games come with a separate soundtrack, but those that do certainly know that what they have in musical ambience is well worth celebrating independently from the title.

There is little doubt that this is a passion project for the team that created it.

The dioramas that the scenarios take place in are gorgeous. Not gorgeous in a way that a AAA release title on max settings is, but closer to the way that a work of art in a museum is. When playing, I can’t help but imagine the designers of this game sitting in a chair late at night with a magnifying glass on every detail of their creation. It makes me think of the grandfatherly fly fisherman spending countless hours perfecting every fly that will inevitably catch their prey. For the record, I am caught. They fly worked and I followed it directly into my eventual demise, and I would do it again.


The Verdict

If you love Vikings, strategy, music, and an obvious dedication to meticulously crafted beauty, play WARTILE If you are looking for a game rich in story, with the depth of character development to keep you coming back for more, don’t.

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Alex Mickle

Alex Mickle is a gamer that traces his roots to JRPG’s on the PS1, but ultimately found his way to PC gaming by spending every afternoon after school playing Counterstrike at a local LAN gaming café. He is a father and husband that splits his gaming time into bursts whenever he can find time, or when ever he makes time. Alex enjoys variance and versatility in his gaming experiences and can be found asleep on the couch with a twitch steam on the television at the end of almost every night.