Wargroove stole the hearts of gamers when it launched in 2019, mixing a nostalgic retro aesthetic with sound strategy gameplay and an enchanting musical twist. Developer Chucklefish has followed up its successful indie game with an experience that doubles down on the original gameplay, while offering an intriguing story and a satisfying amount of content. Wargroove 2 builds on the success of its freshman title, but leaves enough of a mark to make the game fully its own.
Wargroove 2 sets the player in the shoes of Lytra, an inexperienced soldier of the Faahri unexpectedly thrust into the role of commander. The Faahri, a mouse-like group of soldiers, arrived in Aurania to engage in ancient research.
As the narrative unfolds, however, Lytra learns that not all she believed to be true, and the consequences of her (and the Faahri Republic’s actions) are long-reaching and, potentially, devastating.
Grooving to combat
From the initial tutorial mission, Wargroove 2 enamours players with its likeable cast of rodents and the intriguing factions they meet. For a strategy-heavy experience, the characters are well developed and offer a look at complex issues (though sometimes those issues feel like they have been simplified too much). All of the recurring characters within Wargroove 2 have their own drive and issues, concerns and confidence, but they shift as the game progresses, much like the best character-driven stories.
Wargroove 2 has a breed of strategy gameplay that's executed often, but rarely to its fullest potential. In the case of Chucklefish’s sophomore effort, Wargroove 2 is able to differentiate itself from the lesser strategy games and offer an experience that feels both challenging and complete. Maps vary in sizes, and units are both unique and purposeful. Each unit has its own share of strengths and weaknesses, meaning careful deployment and movement is paramount to success. Populating an army takes place mid-battle from a Barracks, requiring a set amount of gold per unit that increases based on the tier of soldier.
A plethora of units become available as the game progresses, and the choice of which units to recruit are left ultimately to the player and the commander they are controlling. Mission objectives are extremely clear and leave enough of a challenge to satisfy most gamers. Should the tasks at hand be too simple, however, additional sub-objectives are made available during each mission to complete. These are optional, but add a layer of complexity to what may be an otherwise simple mission. With that said, the missions become increasingly more difficult and require though-provoking strategies to successfully complete.
Should the tutorial and opening missions involving the Faahri seem too simple, Wargroove 2 allows the player to choose between different campaigns (upon completion of the initial four battles) and offers a challenge ranking for each one. While playing the game in order is often advisable, Wargroove 2 chunks its campaigns into bite-sized adventures, making them much more digestible and easier to follow. There is also enough content within the game to keep players busy for hours.
The sound and visuals in Wargroove 2 are also terrific nods to games of old. The pixelated visuals are flush with colour without betraying its source material, and the sound direction ties the experience together. In fact, the sound elevates the entire experience, as it goes hand-in-hand with the theme and narrative of the game. Much like the original Wargroove, this sequel builds a powerful atmosphere through brilliant aesthetics, complex and changing characters, and immaculately executed sound direction.
That is not to say that Wargroove 2 is without flaws, of course. The game itself will almost immediately turn away gamers looking for a more modern experience, and gamers should be aware of that when looking into purchasing Wargroove 2. Since it mimics retro-style games (think a mix of Fire Emblem and Shining Force), the style definitely doesn't appeal to all.
With that said, those willing to try something new - or those who know that they will enjoy this type of experience - should leave Wargroove 2 feeling satisfied. The new commanders, factions, and additions to Wargroove 2 make it a worthwhile upgrade from the first, and those who committed hours to the original should find as many or more opportunities here.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. A code was provided by the publisher.
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