Genre: Strategy, RPG
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC)
Developer|Publisher: Pixelated Milk | Crunching Koalas
Age Rating: EU 16+ | US Teen
Price: UK £17.99 | EU €19,99 | US $19.99
Release Date: October 1st 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Crunching Koalas
The City of Warsaw
Warsaw is a turn based strategy game set in Warsaw, Poland’s capital city during WWII. You play as a member of the Polish Uprising struggling under insurmountable odds. The Nazi forces are invading and the odds are not in your favour. Victory is most certainly not assured but you and your team will desperately fight for freedom and protect the residents of Warsaw at all costs. The game has a beautiful hand drawn art style. There is a general sense of sadness and hopeless from the characters expressions. The city of Warsaw is an unkind and horrible place to explore ravaged by the brutality of war. But within all this is quite the striking art style that truly stands out.
Take to the Streets
The main crux of the game has you enter areas of the city of Warsaw taking on randomly generated missions. This might include helping the residents or fixing telephones lines but some missions will require you to get into conflict with enemy soldiers. You explore the map of the city but as you move you use up action points so you need to attempt to finish your mission before they expire. Your free to explore looking for valuable loot but despite your best efforts conflict is almost a certainty.
When you get into a fight you and the enemy take it in turns to attack. Your general goal is to kill the enemy although retreating is sometimes a option. You really need to make every move count, every action uses stamina of your character. You can’t simply rely on one character to use their machine gun every turn and solve all your problems. You have to make use of each characters skills like explosives and medics and doing your best to fight of the enemy whilst supporting and buffing your team with skills.
I found the system a little complex at first. There is an underling anxiety not to make mistakes. Sometimes I was comfortably going from conflict to conflict but before I knew it I came up against soldiers I just couldn’t defeat. War is cruel. It’s also worth stating I felt kinda awful killing enemy soldiers in this game. Each soldier I took down felt like I was loosing a part of my humanity. There’s also permadeath so if a team mate dies they are gone forever. With this fear glaring down on me it made playing Warsaw quite the stressful experience. You do have the option to play on a easier mode which makes the combat more manageable but it still maintains the rather hopeless tone the game is delivering.
Back to Base
When you finish a mission it’s back to base where you can recruit soldiers, purchase items, repair weapons and generally just try to get your head together. Team members often need to rest so its wise to swap members out to allow them to recover health and morale.
Warsaw is a brutal game to play. Not just in terms of difficulty but on the soul in general. I dreaded getting into conflicts with enemy soldiers due to fear of losing team mates. As you explore the map mini events will pop up morphing the game into a quick text adventure where you need to decide how to resolve a situation. This could involve solving a dispute with residents and the choices you are given include shooting someone, trying to resolve it or just walking away. No matter the choice in these moments I often walked away feeling kinda sad and empty. These feelings playing the game were not comfortable and certainly will not appeal to people looking for a positive gaming series. However, I have to heavily praise the developers for this design. War is not fun. It’s painful and difficult.
Warsaw ripped out my soul for several play sessions and made me feel empty and depressed. Within all that pain though I was driven by this feeling of hope and determination to continue the fight in an effort for a better tomorrow. While this feeling can not compare to what real people felt back then and the suffering they went through. Warsaw is a stark reminder of why we should remember those we lost to war and do all we can to prevent this happening again.
Final Verdict: I like it a lot