Damn, September was a gigantic month for game releases, but October is no slouch either.
It’s starting to get colder here in the UK, although it is still bright and sunny outside while I’m typing up these rambles. I am also recovering from a nasty second bout of covid last week. It picks its moments, doesn’t it? Right when I have a ton of awesome games I want to review, I end up out of action. A little annoying. Anyhow, it’s time for a new bite-sized review. This time, I’m covering Wargroove 2, a tactical RPG sequel to the original game by Chucklefish. By the time this review goes live, it should be available for purchase. You can pick up Wargroove 2 on Steam, Epic and the Nintendo Eshop.
The original Wargroove launched in 2019 and proved a nice addition to the strategy genre. While lacking the depth of Advance Wars and some frustrating difficulty spikes, I had a great time. Boasting a large amount of content for the price tag, a robust map editor with some excellent custom scenarios by the modding community, and a beefy expansion campaign, Wargroove was a pretty solid game overall. It made my Honourable Mentions category in my annual GOTY awards that year, although my issues with the campaign difficulty spikes and a decent, yet underwhelming narrative meant it just missed my Top 10. Still, I had fun and all the custom maps helped a lot. So when I learned about the sequel, I was itching to get my hands on it. Big thanks to Chucklefish folks for providing me with a code. This sequel offers a lot of bang for its buck, expanding on the gameplay as well as a chunky roguelike mode that could have been a full game by itself.
The campaign takes a different route from the previous version. This time round, you play as the ‘villains’, a group of researchers known as the Fhari keen to locate powerful artefacts, no matter the cost. It’s nice playing as the other side instead of the dedicated happy troops. This is a sequel, but you don’t need to play the original Wargroove campaign to understand what’s going on. Wargroove won’t win any awards for plot complexity or amazing character moments, but the nice quirks from the first game’s story exist in the second game, and so far I’ve found the character interactions endearing. After a short prologue, the other campaign acts open up — you can tackle them separately, at any time you wish which is nice. Some campaigns like the Pirate arc delve straight into the more advanced mechanics like sea and air combat, so if you want to jump into that, you can. It’s a refreshing change.
Combat is the same turn-based affair. Grab villages for resources, barracks etc. for recruiting soldiers. They seem to have removed the annoying time mechanic from the previous game — the scoring system was often degraded by cruel time limits I found, replaced by side objectives for an improved experience. You get some nice little choices in scenarios, such as a selection of troops at the start that switches things up. It’s a nice addition, and I like the branching Acts to play through whenever I want in the campaign.
Wargroove’s biggest weakness for me in the original was the lack of distinctive factions. While Wargroove 2 doesn’t change that, it makes a couple of new additions. The first new thing is items you can attach to units that provide different bonuses, and the second is tiered Grooves — special abilities by the commanders of each faction for more diverse options. This helps separate the factions from each other, although I still wish they were more unique. Overall, solid improvements, and I’m enjoying the game much more than the original campaign.
Onto the new roguelike/Conquest mode, we’ve got a great change. This replaces the puzzle/Arena mode from the first game, a chunky mode that offers a ton of challenge potential. Not much to say on this, but there are plenty of unlocks and a lot of different paths to take. Honestly, Wargroove 2 could have just been this mode and I would be relatively happy with the new direction, but the expanded campaign and this? That is a lot of content for twenty dollars. This is a big game. With the extended map editor, I’m excited for the future.
In conclusion, I like Wargroove 2. It might not have made as many changes to the gameplay as I would like, especially regarding the faction diversity, but it mixes things up just enough to keep things interesting. The campaign so far is superior to the original, and Conquest mode is a delight. All in all, Wargroove 2 is an excellent sequel, and well worth the asking price.
An impressive strategy game that expands upon the original in almost every way.
While the formula has improved, I wish they added more diversity to the factions
A balanced Campaign with plenty of room for experimentation.
Unsure how the Steam Cloud Saves will be implemented. Testing on Steam Deck did not cross save my progress on my laptop
The Conquest/roguelike mode is big enough to be a full game on its own