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Game Info:

Wartile
Published by: Deck 13 and WhisperGames
Developed by: Playwood Project
Release date: February 8, 2018
Available on: Windows
Genre: Strategy
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
MSRP: $19.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

A hearty thanks to Deck 13 and WhisperGames for the review copy!

Are you a fan of Viking culture and mythology? Did you ever play Heroscape and love it? If so, then Wartile is your game. If you've ever played Heroscape, then you already understand the basics of how Wartile works. It's played on a board made up of hex shaped tiles which the game pieces move around on. The tiles are not on a single flat plane, but are arranged in three dimensions to form hills and valleys. The typical Wartile game board includes scenery, obstacles, enemies, mission objectives, powerups and so on. The game is played by moving the player's pieces around the tiles to accomplish game objectives and defeat enemy pieces.

What gives the game its character is that the pieces are animated and represent named characters. Moving a game piece next to an enemy piece results in the pieces swinging their weapons at each other and fighting, complete with sound effects. It's a little like Battle Chess that way, except that the winner is the strongest piece, not the piece that moved. Pieces have stats-like defense, attack and armor as well as special spell-like abilities that can be used as buffs, debuffs, attacks or healing. The game isn't turn-based, but is played in real time. The player is free to continuously move pieces just as the enemy pieces move continually as well. The only limit is that there is a cooldown between moves, with some pieces having a shorter cooldown than others.

Gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward, making the game very quick to learn. At the same time, it has lots of nuances and decisions to be made, such as; which pieces to bring on a mission? How should they be equipped? Which special ability cards should they bring? Once on the board, it takes a good strategy to accomplish all of the mission goals and avoid getting one's pieces killed. Go to the top of the board and work down from there, or go straight for the nearest mission objective before taking out the cluster of enemy pieces? These decisions give the game a surprising amount of depth and yes, they matter. The missions can be easy or difficult and these decisions make all the difference.

Wartile
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great ambiance and music; easy game to learn but hard to master
Weak Points: Difficulty climbs rapidly after the first couple of missions
Moral Warnings: Mild violence; pagan Viking themes

Between missions the player has access to several screens for planning the next mission or preparing their pieces. Loot picked up from missions can be sold for additional coin, and new equipment can be bought. Items such as weapons, armor and runes are all available for upgrading game pieces, which are equipped in a separate screen. There's a screen for hiring new pieces to add to the player's collection as well as a screen for choosing the special abilities that the pieces will take with them into the missions.

There's also a campaign map where the player can track their progress through the game and decide which mission to take on next. Once a mission has been chosen, the player selects the pieces they want to use. Each game piece has its own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Want ranged attacks? Bring the character with a bow. Need some magical support? Bring the witch. Need a strong tank? Bring the piece you gave the best shield and armor to. Every piece has its own play style and the player can choose how to use them together strategically on the board. Each mission allows a limited number of pieces, so the player needs to have multiple ways to synergize.

The game is fairly easy at first, but the difficulty climbs fast after the first couple of missions and the player has access to more and better pieces. There is no multiplayer mode in Wartile, just campaign.

Wartile uses a basic point and click interface which works reasonably well, though at times it can be clumsy when trying to choose a special ability to play. Since pieces can move multiple hexes in a single action, using the keyboard wouldn't have been an option. The gameplay controls are very intuitive both in and out of missions.

Wartile
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 90%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

The graphics are great, with the game boards looking gorgeous. Environments like icy mountains, forests and islands all look great though the thick forest can make it hard to see items and pieces through the foliage. All those extra visual elements will also put a load on your system so if your specs aren't up to snuff, this is where it'll hurt. Fortunately there are plenty of graphics options to help with that. Even on low graphics settings the game still looks great.

The ambient sound and game effects are pretty good, but the music is what grabbed my attention the most. A very beautiful score plays during missions and does a great job of setting the mood in game. I'd love to get the music tracks into an MP3 player.

The game plays smoothly and didn't crash or freeze when I was playing. I really appreciated the stability on long missions. Yes, you can save at any time, but it's hard to remember to do that when you're really in the zone.

In terms of morality there's not much of concern. The violence when pieces are fighting is seen from above and isn't very explicit. There's no sexual imagery or rough language. The game is heavy into Viking mythology and the in-game universe is held to be real, not myth. Magical powers exist as do fantasy creatures and magical items. These elements are unavoidable so if that's something you aren't comfortable with, be warned.

Again, it's Vikings, so raiding and warfare are central to the story, also unavoidable.

Overall this is a fun game and has high replay value by playing the missions with different combinations of pieces and abilities. I really love the originality in terms of gameplay and the living game pieces are lots of fun.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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