GAME REVIEW: WAR, THE GAME / DEVELOPER: GABBERGAMES / PUBLISHER: GABBERGAMES / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
On the front page of its website, GabberGames promised a title which “puts the strategy back into RTS.” With no story, scripting, fog of war or distractions, this was one which was intended purely to stand up on its mechanical value, and for the most part the developers have accomplished this. Playing out as a game similar to a real time version of Risk, the experience of playing War, the Game can be best described as frustratingly rewarding. In a manner akin to Dark Souls or some of the more sadistic Kaizo Mario creations, the core mechanics remain easy to truly understand and commands easy to issue, yet the difficulty curve is staggering at times. You can repeatedly lose over and over again, yet there is an ever present compulsion to continue and win.
One of the key aspects which manages to stand out immediately is War’s sheer simplicity. Everything here has stripped down RTS action to its barest elements, yet refines the experience until it is near pitch perfect in its own way. You only have a few basic units (infantry, armour, fighters, bombers and aircraft carriers), some transports and a small arsenal of nuclear weapons, with no research or notable differences between each side. Yet despite all of this it remains insanely addictive thanks to the finite resources and narrow victory conditions of many scenarios.
What adds to this immersion is the visual presentation, displaying battles across a three-dimensional war map of the world rather than distinct environments. Seeing single units depicted as they fight over cities via a map brings about a massive sense of scale, one similar to what was found in Xenonauts.
War’s only main failings stem from a few unfortunate limitations. While the AI is surprisingly well developed and reacts with excellent timing to enemy strikes, the distinct lack of a multiplayer option limits its longevity and robs the game of its genre’s biggest strength. Much as fans might have loved the lore of Starcraft: Brood War, it wasn’t the campaign which kept people coming back a decade later after all. Atop of this fans who are used to tech-tree rushing will find the experience underwhelming, lacking the tiered unit structures many games are best known for.
In many respects War, the Game is a strategy equivalent of One Finger Death Punch. Simplistic, straight forwards, but with enough reward for skill and stylish presentation to keep players invested. If you’re after a unique take on this genre, you’d do well to give this one a gander.
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