Wargroove is not new to the Nintendo Switch, and developers don’t often release free extensive content updates; however, the game’s new Double Trouble DLC may once again reignite it as the talk of the net. This is because its new DLC adds a lot of content to the base game, especially since it’s all free. This review covers both the base Wargroove game and its Double Trouble DLC.
Cold-blooded murder, a terrible secret, and captivating characters. After the death of her father, Mercia must escape the clutches of evil and find a way to fight back for her kingdom. Wargroove’s main campaign consists of a simplistic story that’s still capable of holding interest for the gameplay it has to offer. People who love comedic moments and engaging characters will find a space in their heart for this game’s story.
Strategy means everything in Wargroove. Players are set into a grid-based battlefield with several characters to utilize at the start of a match. These characters have their own classes, weaknesses, and range of movement. Establishing barracks allows players to summon reinforcements using gold, the game’s currency. This currency is earned from occupying villages. The more villages occupied, the more funds earned. These villages can also be liberated, both by the player and the enemy. Therefore, protecting them is partially as important as securing them.
Wargroove has one of the best startup tutorials a game can offer. Its DIY approach covers everything the player would need to know to get them ready for the real fight, without taking too much time with long, boring explanations and the like. Everything else has to be explored and discovered during the 15-25 hours its main campaign provides. Finishing primary missions can also unlock optional missions for more fun to be had. Sometimes even dwelling more into the relationships between the variety of characters.
Wargroove is intended to be played with difficulty in mind, and things can get chaotic on the battlefield. It starts off calm and nice, slowly turning into hectic soon after getting comfortable with its gameplay. At this point, stages are likely to be played multiple times before getting them right.
The game caters to players who find its difficulty too high. There are five difficulty modes; three of which are easier than the default and one that’s even tougher. These options adjust tanked damage, groove charge rate, and gold earned during matches. Defeat prompts a menu to choose between adjusting the difficulty or seeking revenge.
The easiest difficulty makes clearing stages a breeze. It’s truly meant for those who simply want to enjoy the story without thinking too much. Most players who want a challenge but don’t want to struggle too much will enjoy its medium difficulty, while the last, toughest difficulty remains for the people who are well versed with the game and wish to attempt it at its hardest.
Stages and Combat
Wargroove has a specific type of gameplay where players must move their characters and fight enemies in turn-based sequences. Even though this is done repeatedly throughout the game, it never feels repetitive with the way objectives are juggled between and the different characters assigned to them. Sometimes players must eliminate all enemies to proceed with the story. Sometimes they may have to fight their way through henchmen and form an escape route. Sometimes escape missions are done in an entirely different manner to keep the flame burning brightly.
Both characters and enemies have their own classes, while commanders have their own groove, a unique skill associated with the character. Players will begin with the weaker classes and eventually gain access to stronger units the further they get in the game. Although these soldiers pack more of a punch, their summoning costs are significantly higher. Careful consideration must be taken into account, otherwise, the unfavorable victor will be decided early. Together with the different faces being juggled between missions, Wargroove’s gameplay never gets tiresome. Some stages may take a hefty amount of time to complete while others can be cleared in a matter of minutes. Constant losses may build up frustration, but the player has the power to change that at any time with the game’s various difficulty settings.
Each stage tests the player’s wits with how well they can overcome the challenge that awaits them. Clearing a stage rewards the player with one of four ranks depending on the set difficulty, where S rank is the highest tier. Besides an additional, unlockable stage, these awarded ranks are merely for bragging rights. Acquiring a specific number of gold stars to unlock the last, extra stage gives more purpose to their existence, which has been handled greatly without gatekeeping the essence of the content.
Death is inevitable depending on the set difficulty. Replaying stages to overcome the challenges they hold will be common. It can make waiting for enemy movement and watching the many short battle scenes a tedious experience. Thankfully, the developers have implemented a fast forward option by simply holding B that speeds up enemy movement on the map, and skips both battle scenes and cutscenes. It’s optional and doesn’t take away anything from the game, but the option is nice for those who wish to speed through the parts of the game where they found utter death.
Finishing the main campaign of the game isn’t the end. Wargroove has many options to choose from to prolong its longevity. Its Stage Builder is one of them. It allows players to create their own stages, and goes as far as allowing the creation of complete campaigns.
Wargroove’s Stage Builder is a self-taught yet powerful tool that gives players full control of map creation. It allows the full customization of a map’s size, terrain, biome, characters, buildings, weather, music, and decor. Creations can easily be duplicated with the press of a button, making testing a walk in the park without affecting the original. Camera focus on the stage creation screen can be an inconvenience at times, but nothing that can’t be worked around.
Each stage can be bestowed with a name and a description to identify it. The music played for the map can be selected from a large selection or played at random. Weather effects have a similar fate on whether the creator wishes to set something specific or have it on rotation. Characters’ colors can be set from several choices. The ability to limit recruits and commanders also exists. The developers have gone out of their way to create a fully functioning tool that would make players building and playing this game for years to come, with various other settings to choose from that were not mentioned here.
Campaign creation goes the extra mile, allowing players to create a fully functional campaign with cutscenes and events. Everything from the main story can be set, such as main missions or side missions. A variety of map icons can be placed throughout the provided world map, with the producer having full control of the narrative, region name, and the mission’s destination. Unlike the stage editor, the campaign editor allows the rearrangement of map icons instead of being forced to delete them and place them again, as seen in the stage editor for its respective purpose.
The game makes sharing and playing creations straightforward, but can easily be confusing when failing to explore the many options Wargroove has to offer. Playing them works similarly to the main story campaign, with difficulty adjustment and progress saving options available to the end-user. There is a limit of 50 upload slots; however, the game does not make it clear if such a limit exists for downloaded content, therefore one can only assume its capacity is as large as the console’s free storage space, be it internal or SD card. A Nintendo Switch Online subscription is not required to download or share creations, and cross-platform support drastically expands the amount of user-created content.
The online menu shows a list of the featured content, a list of creator content, the user’s own creations, and downloaded content. Those who enjoyed someone’s creation has the option of seeking out more of their creations with a simple press of a button. Filter options exist to browse through the newest, popular, and highest rated content, as well as the number of players meant for the match and its content type.
As mentioned before, rating content is possible. Unfortunately, it is open to abuse, as players who have not played a submitted piece of content can either upvote or downvote anything they’ve downloaded. A restriction on voting until playing the content may have helped deal with this problem, although there is no sure-fire way of stopping a devoted individual.
Content checks are in place to verify content can be cleared before successfully becoming one of the many options players from around the world can download. The creator has to attempt clearing their creation before it can get uploaded. It’s a nice verification method to limit the number of troll levels on the server to upset people in the community. Report functionality has also been implemented, in case anything questionable or possibly inappropriate slips through.
Arcade Mode extends the amount of content Wargroove offers with an additional side-story from each primary character’s perspective. This additional content is unlocked piece by piece from playing the main campaign and lets the player fight a series of battles, each featuring major characters from the game.
This extra mode comes with three difficulties — easy, normal, and hard. These three options only affect income earned rather than damage or groove charge time. The maps are small, but they eventually lead to larger maps for the final matches. It doesn’t take as much time to complete in comparison to the game’s main campaign, and is easier because each side begins on equal footing.
While Arcade Mode offers a carefree yet entertaining experience, Puzzle Mode demands a more tactical mindset and extensive knowledge of each character’s groove. Players are required to claim victory in one turn, and there’s no swapping to an easier difficulty this time. Failing to accomplish the objective in a single turn results in defeat. A lot of trial and error awaits each player who dares attempt these challenging puzzle stages in the game.
A total of 25 puzzle maps ship with each copy of the game. This number is, of course, expandable from the numerous user-submitted content through the game’s stage builder. The puzzle stages start off as manageable but get more complicated further down the list. It leaves a sense of accomplishment with each puzzle solved, and may even help with sharpening the player’s tactician skills to achieve S ranks on the main campaign’s stages.
Double Trouble DLC
DLC consisting of a massive amount of content isn’t generally released for free after a game’s release. Wargroove’s Double Trouble DLC brings a new story campaign to the table with new characters and two new unit types. These new units expand how the game is played with their own unique mechanics. The number of additional stages it adds is a reasonably low amount, but the time it takes to clear each is noticeable, totaling up to around 15 hours of gameplay.
The story begins with a kidnapping. The mighty Wulfar and the troublemaker twins are forced to execute the biggest heist ever seen in Aurania, if they ever want to see their ‘friend’ again. It’s a much simpler story in comparison to the main story campaign, and a majority of its substance lacks variety, but at least the engaging character interactions compensate for it. They have stronger personalities, astonishing accents, and leave behind humor that’s sure to steal a chuckle. Though the waiting game must be played, the finale makes it all the more worthwhile.
This co-op campaign can be played alone, with a friend locally, or online. It provides its players with the same difficulty adjustments as seen in the main story campaign. Although the number of stages it possesses is inferior in number, they each contribute many hours in gameplay. The slightest mistake can end in defeat, which may add to the player’s frustration level if gets too consistent. To avoid any mishaps, the game will have players carefully considering their moves and planning the best course of action.
Holding a button to skip cutscenes can be handy to avoid accidental skipping, but it becomes an inconvenience when forced to do so to begin a player’s turn. The new campaign falls victim to this due to its 2 player co-op nature, and unfortunately, there’s no way of disabling it. On the bright side, even though the new story campaign falls into the co-op department, one player can fully take on the roles of all commanders with just one controller. This is perfect for people who do not have others to play with.
User-made stages and campaigns aren’t the only things that extend the game’s longevity. In addition to the game’s local multiplayer mode, players with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription can take their PvP matches online and play against others. Upon entry, the game lists lobbies that can be joined, each clearing showing the number of supported players (1-4 players). Joining a match or creating a lobby is a fairly straightforward process, with filter options to tailor to specific needs. As cross-platform play is supported, the developers have added an icon to display which platform each player plays the game on; it isn’t necessarily needed, but it’s a pleasant addition.
Online play drastically increases the replay value of Wargroove. Creating a lobby gives the host control of the map’s settings and enables them to decide how the commander can be deployed; whether there is one or not, and if they are allowed to use their groove. Matches can consist of a commander of the user’s choice, and play similar to the single-player campaign; however, players begin their match with a low amount of funds and no units. This way, all players are on equal standings and must tactically overcome their opponent(s) to bask in victory. With a large variety of maps to choose from, both small and large, Wargroove’s online multiplayer will certainly satisfy. A full lobby of four players allows for teams to be formed, mixing things up once again for a new experience.
A timer is an essential feature for any online strategy game. Unfortunately, Wargroove lacks one for its online multiplayer portion. Players can grow tiresome of waiting for others to finish their turn while some may intentionally prolong matches to annoy the opposition. The chance heightens with the more players in a lobby, but it may be rare to encounter others with such ill intentions. It’s more likely to come across players who take their sweet time to decide their play, which causes a similar yet less severe result.
Connection errors are another issue players may worry about. Wargroove handles them exceptionally well. A match isn’t decided if a player gets dropped from an online session. Quickly reconnecting to the lobby makes them rejoin a match to resume their turn. A list of joined lobbies makes it effortless to reconnect to these lobbies, so there’s always a chance to continue a good match when randomly disconnected from a session.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Wargroove’s pixel graphics are a treat to the eye and its smooth animated battle scenes are the icing on top. The world itself is no exception to this. The various terrains, structures, and biomes set the atmosphere of the battlefield exquisitely. The various characters have distinctive appearances and look fantastic throughout every inch of the game. As a game that often requires players to take a minute to carefully execute commands, the motion from characters adds to the appeal of the gameplay. The developers are certainly no amateurs when it comes to pixel art.
Its soundtrack is no less in regards to quality. Although it doesn’t quite get players in the groove when playing the game, Phonetic Hero did an extraordinary job with the music they composed for it. Each tune is a delight to the ear and does not distract from the objectives at hand. It helps ease the tension built up from the game’s difficulty and makes for a calmer mind to think clearly to make more strategic plays.
The amount of content packed into Wargroove cannot be underestimated. Its 50 hours worth of single-player content is filled with many tactical challenges to conquer and charming characters to discover, all of which have been beautifully designed. It caters to everyone in regards to difficulty, offering several options for the perfect fine-tuned adjustment. The game does have its inconveniences and can possibly frustrate some, but they aren’t anything that can’t be coped with.
The stage builder is an excellent addition and a game-changer. It expands the amount of content with additional content shared from players familiar with it. Although it’s limited to what’s offered by the game and difficult to use at first, it is powerful enough to bring ideas to life that Wargroove fans will appreciate. Because of this, Wargroove is a game that will certainly thrive for many years to come.
Wargroove gets a 9/10.