Wartile is a tabletop game by Deck13 Interactive and Playwood Project. It is a very unique tabletop game that incorporates real-time tabletop game which combines turn-based mechanics, card-battler and cooldown times in a unique mix. All of these mechanics are easily visible in the game but they all combine together for an experience that you do not find in normal games. This is our review of Wartile on PS4 in which we explore some really pretty diorama Battleboards and break some Norse mythology-inspired enemy figurines.
Wartile’s story is set in the Northern Kingdoms set in the Norse mythology where a plague has taken over the kingdoms and no one knows what is happening. After your father dies because of this plague, you set out to find the cause of this plague and experience the secrets of the northern kingdoms. The game has a strong emphasis on narrative as each Battleboard is essentially a level that progresses the main story of the game and you find and unravel secrets hidden in them.
If you ignore the visual design of Wartile, it is played like any other point and click action game where you select your units and order them to move around and attack enemies while also using their abilities and your own unique abilities. However, Wartile is played on special levels which are called Battleboards and each unit is a figurine. However, these are not just any figurines. Each figurine is fully animated and comes with a great bit of detail. On the Battleboards, you move around these figurines on tiles. In each move, they can move certain tiles and after that, there is a small cool down before you can move them around.
These Battleboards are not merely just a fancy skin for a tabletop game. They come complete with different strategic strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited by you to gain an edge over the enemies. For example, if you place your figurine or a tile which is higher than the enemy’s figurine, you will get a defensive boost while enemies next to you will not be able to deal high amounts of damage. Similarly, surrounding enemy figurines will allow figurines on the backside to deal additional damage to enemies. Each Battleboard also comes with its own secrets for you to find as well as a multitude of side quests that you can complete along with the main campaign.
You can move a single tile alone or move them all at once in a group move in which the selective figurine will move to the designated tile while other figurines in your party will follow it and land on random tiles behind the main selected unit. This is sometimes a little glitchy as the figurines would move here and there and not follow the main figurine leading to some awkward battle encounters. However, you can quickly move the left-behind figurines since the battles are also real-time and there is no delay in moving them to a more suited vantage point. However, quite often my figurines would jump away from the enemies on their own and I still do not know what causes this.
The combat may look like a card-based game or a turn-based game but it is a unique mixture of both mechanics. Special abilities are used as cards while the movement has a very slight delay thus you can move them around just like a real-time battle game without any remorse. During battles, you can also use the figurine’s abilities. Normally, you can have one equipped however you can find additional items in random chests spread around the Battleboards which then appear as playable cards and you can use them during battles. It is worth mentioning here that I did not find combat of Wartile really satisfying. Sometimes you will get surrounded by enemies and your figurines will die quickly even if you plan a good strategy for taking them down.
The animations during combat are pretty much just characters waving their weapons around with no solid impact or hitboxes. Abilities like Shield Bash feel really dull as you would expect your figurine to hit the enemy with your shield followed by a ‘thud’ effect but there is none. Sometimes it felt like the weapons are simply flying off the enemies as well and there is no way to determine how much damage will be actually dealt to the enemy. Special abilities sometimes feel like a different variation of the normal attack. Whenever you defeat the enemy, their figurine explodes into different pieces which is somewhat satisfying. Apart from that, there is not too much depth to combat mechanics or its animations. You also have the option to slow down time during combat sequences to give you more time to think about using your moves or striking up a quick strategy.
While you are not on a Battleboard, you will be at the Campaign Map where you can access different secondary screens as well. These include the figurine customizations screen, tavern, deck creation, and merchant. You can sell or purchase new items such as weapons and armor at the merchant while if you need new party members for your team, you can head over to the Tavern and purchase new figurines. Each figurine comes with its own unique weapons and abilities. You can only equip their supported weapon types on each figurine.
Then you have your card builder where you can build your deck of abilities that are available to you during battles. You can only carry a few ability cards with you so you need to have a good balance of offensive, defensive and support cards here because you need some support powers during battles as well such as healing cards or you will not survive for long. The customization screen will allow you to change weapons, armor, figurine abilities and bonus tokens of each of the available figurines in your party. These bonus tokens give you bonuses to your specific stats such as boosting your armor, health or damage. As you level up your figurines, you will improve their overall stats and also unlock more bonus token slots allowing you to equip more tokens at the same time.
In the middle of this screen, you have your campaign map from where you choose where you want to go for your next mission. All of the Battleboards are displayed by their specific icons and they appear after you progress in the main story and unlock them. You also find some bonus Battleboards here which unlock exclusive rewards for you but they are not the part of the main story. Each Battleboard in the main story comes with three difficulty tiers. You can advance to the next Battleboard by completing any tier but each higher difficulty unlocks additional rewards for you which are really helpful in the game.
Visually, Wartile looks pretty decent. When you zoom in, you can see figurines in great detail as well as the world around them. However, as I mentioned earlier, I am not much of a fan of animations especially the combat animations of the game. The world is detailed according to the Norse mythology it is based on and you will see a lot of resemblance to the world it is based on. In certain areas, the levels also gave me strong vibes of God of War since both games share the same mythology. If you could, you could say that this is a top-down God of War played with figurines on tiles however the visual detail and animations are not as impressive as God of War.