Wartile by Playwood Project
Wartile is a cooldown-based tactics game that somehow manages to look and feel like a turn-based strategy/RPG hybrid while technically functioning in real-time.
Released two years ago for PC and last month for the Xbox One and PS4, Playwood Project has created a game that seems to be entirely built around its tabletop aesthetic, with the design philosophy influencing almost all aspects of the game. The result is a very unusual experience that often feels more like an action RPG than a strategy game.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Wartile early on. I was, of course, impressed by the visuals – this game cares about its chosen style – but we’ll talk about that later.
At first sight, Wartile is clearly a turn-based strategy game. What else could it be? There are the hexagonal tiles, there are the static models to move around the board, and there are the enemies waiting for them.
However, once you start moving your figures, things get interesting; movement is limited by a cooldown system rather than turns, and those static enemies start to make their own moves once you get close enough to them.
Wartile puts you in control of a group of Vikings in a fictional setting, undertaking a quest to unravel the mystery behind a plague ravaging your home.
A small but growing group of warriors can be selected from for each level, and they all come with their own specialties. Early missions limit you to a front-line damage dealer, back-line spear-man and a tough, tanky fighter, but the roster soon begins to swell.
Each level is a beautiful diorama in its own right, with groups of enemy figurines often standing in wait, dotted around the landscape. Leading your warriors too close to enemy groups will bring them to life, and they will begin their own movements to close in.
Combat is a tactical affair, despite the real-time nature of the game, and positioning is important. Higher ground, for example, confers a defensive bonus whilst flanking your opponents provides an offensive one.
Cards and Figurines
Combat is supplemented through an assortment of cards. These come from three sources: inventory, character special abilities and a deck of group-wide abilities chosen between missions. These cards help to bolster the team and provide various abilities such as healing or calling in equipment. A particular favorite of mine is a bear trap card that can be used to ensnare foes who step on the wrong tile.
There is a fair amount to do between missions. Each figurine can be equipped with a variety of gear, ranging from weapons to shields and helms. I particularly like a helm acquired early on that can raise undead to fight on the team’s behalf.
In addition to gear, new team members can be hired, and each figurine can be given statistical upgrades as they level up. Each mission also has three levels of difficulty to fight through, providing a good deal of longevity.
Aesthetically, Wartile is gorgeous. Each level is designed to look like its own unique diorama, and any single moment can look like a freeze-frame of a battle ranging across a beautifully sculpted landscape.
Each figurine is unique and comes with its own personality. The music is similarly appealing, with somber tones reinforcing the grim world and magical mystery of Wartile.
Wartile is a unique take on the strategy genre, and I think it treads some interesting new ground. The closest mainstream analogy that comes to mind is the tactical combat of the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 remake, which is overlaid with a superficial layer of fast-paced action (rather than the reverse, for a change).
Wartile does a great job of adding pace to its own tactical offering. The only drawback I have noticed is that it is sometimes tedious to shift models forward between fights, even with the option to move all of them together. Wartile is a solid and intriguing tactics game that comes paired with some stunning visuals; easy to recommend to fans of the genre, Vikings or miniatures.
Wartiles is available via the Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store and Steam.
Watch the official Wartile trailer below: