Many video games have often tried to emulate the feeling of a tabletop game. Wartile takes the most interesting aspects of tabletop games out while leaving in a confusing and dull gameplay style. Its tile-based game play feels dated, while the story and design lacks any particular flair or substance.
Wartile is an isometric grid based RPG, where players take control of tokens that move through a map in order to achieve the maps objective. This objective usually involves collecting some sort of item or defeating a number of enemies. During missions, players move their tokens through hexagonal grids and automatically attack enemies adjacent to them. There are a number of cards, skills, and equipment available to the player that can be equipped between missions.This central hub also offers shops that offer new equipment and character tokens so you can swap all your gear and characters out before you go on a mission.
The first thing I noticed when opening up Wartile is the generic display that most early access games seem to have. Menus use generic fonts and borders, and are often not aligned properly. The UI looks like it is just copy-pasted onto the screen with no regard for its placement. The games graphical style, while not particularly enthralling, is appropriate. The character tokens look like proper figurines that move when you hover over them, and the entire world has a very cardboard aesthetic similar to Dungeons and Dragons cutouts and grids. It’s a nice little touch that solidifies its inspiration. That seems to be the end of the games inspiration, since the music is also pretty generic and feels like background music for a basic fantasy RPG.
In my opinion, Tabletop RPG’s work well because it allows players to immerse themselves in a rich and intricate world that feels almost more real than the real world. Wartile however doesn’t have a rich and immersive story. It may as well not even have a story. A single block of text described the current mission objective with a tiny amount of flavour text. The missions are unrelated to each-other and there is no cohesive or interconnected world to be gleamed from the text. There’s no NPC’s, the setting for the missions usually consist of barracks or watchtowers on an island, and every character is either controlled by the player or an enemy that has to be killed. This sort of game calls back to the original version of DnD that mainly go unplayed, with the focus being purely on the gameplay.
Wartile, as the name suggests, uses tile based gameplay to facilitate both movement and combat. Both the movement and combat are turn-based but apply in real time, so players will need to constantly check when they can move again, or when they can use an ability. I found it very interesting to have the movement be on a cool down during combat, as it felt like the positioning of my units actually affected what would happen. Unfortunately, that was really as far as the strategy for the game goes. Fights happen automatically as the tiles wait to whack each other, while I occasionally used abilities in case I was losing. The gear and skills attempt to spice the action up, but in truth the gameplay feels slow and lacks a lot of player input.
While the game is in early access and is subject to change, I cant help but feel like Wartile kinda misses the point of what makes tabletop RPG’s exciting. When sitting down and playing DnD, the exciting part isn’t waiting for your turn to hit an enemy, it’s the tension built from knowing who your enemy is, what they’ve done, and why you need to stop them. The game lacks any kind of context or excitement, and just ends up being a very shallow game.