Warsaw Review (Switch)
Release Date: October 1, 2020
File Size: 2.1GB
Publisher: Crunching Koalas
Developer: Pixelated Milk
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
The Warsaw Uprising – the period of time between August 1st and October 2nd of 1944 where the Polish underground resistance sought to liberate Poland from Nazi control. Unfortunately, after 63 days, the resistance ended up surrendering due to a lack of supplies. While it is not shocking that WWII-era games exist, it’s still not every day that you see a turn-based roguelike RPG along the lines of Warsaw pop up.
Warsaw takes place during World War II in Warsaw, Poland, during the Uprising where you will be mainly fighting against Nazi soldiers. The story of Warsaw plays out mostly in randomized story events, which you can come across by either finding them during – or after completing – an excursion. The events that come up during excursions will mainly result in either supplies, battles, or lower the health/morale in an area, while the other form can pave the way to new story recruits.
Some of the story event options require a stat, like intuition or brawn. All characters will have a set level and the higher the number, the more likely you will pass the skill check. Failing the skill check can result in a unit losing health (or worse, dying), morale dropping, or momentum dropping. You are able to select which character you wish to go through the skill check, but keep in mind that you may be putting that unit at risk. Story events that can result in losing a large amount of health or death are marked by a red cross. Because these events are randomized, that means that you can come across the same scenarios in subsequent playthroughs. Along with this, the events that can occur are mainly isolated events, in that there isn’t any mention of what happened in other story events.
Warsaw is a turn-based RPG where you navigate around a map completing certain tasks. With a team of up to four members, you must complete tasks in one of the six regions of Warsaw. These tasks can be anything from collecting a certain amount of supply cases, defeating a certain number of enemy units, defeating high-level enemy units, etc. Given the game’s difficult nature, it may not always be in your best interest to perform missions where you have to defeat a large number of units (or have to fight period, depending on how your units are holding up). However, you will need to keep an eye on the morale and attrition of a region. If the morale drops to 0, that region surrenders and you will no longer receive supplies or missions from there. And the higher that the attrition grows, the faster the morale of that region will fall.
Combat takes place on a 2 x 4 grid, with units being able to be placed on any of the available 8 spots. Along with the units, there are also barricades, which shield the unit directly behind it, lowering the damage taken. You will start off with a number of activation points that match the number of units you have in your party, as will the enemy. As units die, an activation point – used to perform actions in battle – will be taken away. In order to use a skill, melee attack, or move, you will need at least one activation point. Along with that, units have both health and stamina bars. Each unit starts off with three stamina bars and after each round, one bar is replenished. If all three stamina bars are depleted, that unit can no longer be used for that round.
As you go through battle, make sure to keep an eye on your health. Units that die in battle remain dead after you come back to the hideout, and since there is no manual save, the game will autosave to record any progress made. Once you return to the hideout, the health of a unit will be displayed as the lowest health they had while on the excursion. In order to fully heal your units, you will have to let them rest in the hospital area of the hideout, which basically means not using that unit for a mission.
After you select a mission to perform, you will be taken to a 2D map, where you can move your icon around and come across supply crates, enemy forces, and story events. You have an action point bar, which depletes as you move or use items in your inventory. If the AP bar is completely depleted, you will fail the mission and be taken back to your hideout. For those looking for a challenge, there are four different difficulties for you to choose from: easy, regular, challenging, and extreme. These options are available to set for both battles (difficulty affects the health of all units) and the Uprising (difficulty affects your momentum, enemy encounters, and loot).
Given the somber tone of the game, watching this opening animation sets the tone for the rest of the game. The art is akin to a comic book due to the heavy black outlines and mellow color palette. The player’s hideout is especially nice to look at. Along with all of your story units appearing around certain parts of the hideout, there are other characters that represent the options that you have in your hideout, like the nurse for the hospital or the scholar for the codex. During each load screen, you will see an image of a building in the lower right.
As you progress through the story, the building art will change from just an unassuming building, to being attacked, and then finally the resulting destruction of said attack. It is a simple, yet effective touch that helps drive home the ever-growing destruction of any long-term conflict. The only real issue in terms of presentation here is the UI, especially when it comes to text size. It can be quite difficult to read everything, and could have benefitted from a font size slider at the very least.
Warsaw is a game that hammers home just how outnumbered and outpowered the Polish Uprising was against the German forces. As such, it can leave behind a feeling of frustration when you wind up in what appears to be an unwinnable battle. However, the game does also make it easy to develop a small bit of hope during those moments when you’re able to overpower an entire field of Nazi soldiers.
The tides of battle can change quickly in (or against) your favor and speaking honestly, your worst enemy will more than likely be accuracy. The RNG of accuracy can be very discouraging, especially when things end up spiraling out of control. As a roguelike, it can be extremely unforgiving and may turn off those unwilling to take the time to learn the ropes. It does, however, have some upsides if you do stick it out and give it a chance. Tiny text aside, Warsaw is an interesting experience for those who enjoy games in the same vein as Darkest Dungeon. Just be prepared to put in some effort in order to fully appreciate its qualities.