There is something about Dungeons and Dragons mini figurines in Wartile. They connect straight into a deep nostalgia for me. Having a group of friends round a table, surrounded by packets of chips and fizzy drinks. All laughing and dungeon crawling into the small hours of the night. This is what Wartile taps into in a way. It’s tabletop gaming from the comfort of your couch and TV.
Now, not wanting to lead you astray, one thing to clarify is unfortunately Wartile is a single player game. It is still dragging its inspiration straight out of table top dungeon crawlers, but with a dollop of strategy video game methodology. Overall, a solid base to work with…am I right!? Wartile actually hit PC back in 2017, but we finally have a PS4 version.
The Wartile background
The setup is simple. My Viking village is being ravaged by an unknown illness (somewhat fitting for 2020) and my heroes have been sent out to ascertain why. Missions are set on beautifully laid out 3D ‘tabletop’ maps. My party of figurines move across tiles to engage enemies, open chests and collect resources. It is literally a digital board game. Combat is actually automated as soon as my Figures come within range of an enemy. They animate various attacks depending on their class.
Warriors wield melee weapons and shields up close, Spear Lancers have an extra tile of range, Archers and Mages can obviously stand back and pick away at targets. Their basic attacks are automatic, where I became involved is the use of ‘action points’ to spend on special attacks, buffs and traps. Which come from specific character skills and the random cards that get pulled from my deck.
However the controls for choosing figurines and their powers has not had a smooth transition from mouse and keyboard to controller. There is some ‘clunk’ to be managed throughout the game.
Everything begins in a Pub
The deck of cards and party setup is crucial. This is all done in a Pub, where The Board Game is being ‘played’. Buying new hero figures, managing equipment, and choosing cards to be in the deck. Assigning character powers is all displayed like a collectable DnD set.
I loved this.
The feel of playing a board game…that is coming to life! Think Toy Story or even Dejarik from Star Wars, my little dolls would come to life and transform from toys, to warriors.
The Maps are the real star of the show. When the opening camera sweeps in across the sea to show what tabletop I would be venturing into, it was a wee buzz every time. To traverse the maps no D20 dice rolls are required. Movement and the use of skills all work on a cool down timer.
Mid-turn the action can be paused for attacks or buffs to be queued up. However, this is where one of my major complaints for the game comes. Its Combat. It doesn’t match the setting. It’s too fast and free flowing…which is a weird complaint, I know.
Combat mechanics need work
What I mean is, a proper turn based mechanic would have better served the game in my opinion. When combat begins, the game loses its methodical tactical board game feel. Combat is simply down to maximising damage and ‘heals’ in the shortest time. It is fun, sporadic fun bolstered by planning. Honestly though, only if I can be bothered.
The best way to win, was to game the system and treat it almost like a MOBA. I relied on Rushing two or three Heroes at each enemy in the encounter. Simply let them wail on the nearest bad guy, then move onto the next. Not overly tactical.
This uneven combat, combined with a very drawn out mission, that required me to defeat 20 waves of repetitive enemies (with no checkpoints). Resulted in my love of the presentation and underlying nostalgia, giving way to boredom and a snifter of frustration.
I still recommend Wartile as a compact gem with some caveats. Don’t expect too much in terms of real tactical depth. Also plan the time you play, as there are no mid-mission save files. There are checkpoints with no way to actually save the game to come back later on. Which in 2020 is crazy.
The actual gameplay didn’t give me the tactical experience I wanted. The whole thing lacked some polish with regards to its camera controls and user interface. I respect the inspiration behind the game and adore its presentation, my advice would be to wait for a sale.