When I first heard of WARSAW, I wasn’t entirely sure about it. From the outside looking in, it appeared to be an entirely competent turn-based adventure game. But considering the subject matter which the title is touching on, and the sub-genres rather spotty history of qualitative gameplay, I was certain that WARSAW, will not be exactly as great as its promotional materials are making it out to be. And now that I have spent my fair share of time with this particular title, I have to state with a heavy heart that my pre-release scepticism has been more than justified.
First of all, the Warsaw Uprising isn’t an event which can be easily turned into a piece of entertainment. As with over 200,000 people dead, mostly civilians, women, children, and elderly, the Warsaw Uprising is an event which requires a certain level of respect and decorum. However, WARSAW’s visual design fails at both of those. As the title’s anime like aesthetic, at best feels out of place, and at its worse is downright disrespectful. Sure, all art is subjective, but when you turn victims of concentration camps, into a striped pyjama wearing, overdrawn animes, you are not just missing the point, you are desecrating it.
In short, WARASW is largely distasteful work of interactive media. And I don’t know whether the developer was afraid to present the subject matter as is, or whether it had a lacking knowledge of it. Disrespectfully cartoony façade, and omission of symbols such as (Fighting Poland) Polska Walczaca’s anchor, or Silent Unseen’s (Cichociemni) eagle, prove the subject matter for WAWRSAW has been chosen for its shock factor, and not for accurate, or even respectful historical portrayal. And it is not just disappointing, but also rather depressing.
Now that we have the most glaring issue behind us, it feels apt to move onto the gameplay. And while WARSAW does borrow a lot from the highly successful Darkest Dungeon, then it does add some quirks, and mechanics, to make what it has borrowed its own. For example, instead of moving from district to district, like you’ve moved from dungeon to dungeon with The Darkest Dungeon, WARASAW allows you to explore the titular city of Warsaw in its entirety, and scavenge, seek, destroy, and engage enemies at your own will.
The core gameplay, gives you, the player an unprecedented amount of freedom, not seen before within the sub-genre. However, the addition of exploration, also comes with its quirks and flaws. For example, the map across which you move your team (as a singular unit), isn’t exactly clear – especially if you are colour blind. And you might find yourself avoiding a large expanse of land, thinking it can’t be crossed, only to find out that what you thought was a building, is in fact an empty square – and the numerous engagements, and wasted resources could have been avoided entirely.
While exploring, you will be faced with objectives such as ‘get from A to b’, do X, or defeat Y number of enemy units. And while in most cases combat can be avoided, the hostile spotting mechanic, can, and always is a little janky. And this is mainly due to the fact that enemy patrols, which will always be stationary, tend to spot you outside of their vision cone. And yes, there is a camouflaging item which allows you to either ambush enemy patrols, or sneak past them entirely, but just like the enemy vision cones, it doesn’t always work as it should. And at this point, I lost count how many times I’ve applied camouflage to my party, only to be spotted five seconds later by the very same enemy patrol I’ve been trying to avoid.
Once you have been spotted, or triggered an encounter via ambush, the combat commences. And just like in most games of the sub-genre, it is an RNG-fiesta. And every action which you undertake is based around a coin toss, which appears to be rigged, as even on the easiest difficulty, you will miss three, or even more attacks in a row – until you have either ran out of ammo, or health points on your characters. And this can, and is incredibly frustrating. And if not for the fact that explosives, which range from hand grenades, through mortars, all the way down to panzerfausts and panzerschrecks, are pretty much a guarantee to cause some heavy damage, I would have put a fist through my TV, after mere hours with WARSAW.
To put it bluntly, the core combat of WARSAW isn’t exactly enjoyable. And it is not purely down to the RNG, but also down to the fact that not much of it makes any sense. Units with personal defence weapons can only attack targets located further down the field; riflemen’s rounds do not pierce multiple targets, and offer no bonus to accuracy; and lastly fully automatic fire, even when selected to fire at a single target, can only cause one set of damage, despite of numerous bullets being fired. And all this leads to an experience which is not just confusing, but also one which is not all that enjoyable.
I’d like to finish this review off on a positive note, but I’m struggling to come up with anything about WARASW, that left me satisfied. And in all honesty, I’ve been grasping at straws throughout the entirety of this review. And every positive note about this particular title was said through clench teeth, or rather written through locked fingers. Overall, WARSAW things undercooked from each and every angle and perspective. Gameplay needs some major tuning and refining, the artwork needs some tasteful reworking, and the current RNG has to be rolled into a ball and tossed into the nearest skip.
To summarize, all that has to be said about WARSAW, is that it feels exactly like Russian roulette. But instead of using a revolver, you are holding a fully loaded KIMBER 1911, and hoping that it jams before it’s your turn to pull the trigger. So, in short, WARSAW does keep you at the proverbial razor’s edge, but instead of filling you up with excitement and adrenaline, it is pumping you full fury and depressing disappointment. And when it finally closes its doors on you, all it leaves you with is a bitter taste in your mouth, and soul-crushing disappointment.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 4/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
WARSAW is just another take on The Darkest Dungeon, but it is executed with all the style and grace of a drugged up elephant on roller blades, skating on top of an oiled up iceberg.