Chuck­le­fish is tak­ing the fight straight to In­tel­li­gent Sys­tems

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We have to con­fess that we haven’t been com­pletely straight with you. While we have in­deed re­ported on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions in the past that War­groove is prac­ti­cally the mod­ern liv­ing em­bod­i­ment of Ad­vance Wars, we aren’t cer­tain that that state­ment is en­tirely ac­cu­rate. Not now that we’ve had a fresh op­por­tu­nity to sit down with the up­com­ing ti­tle.

It’s been 17 years since In­tel­li­gent Sys­tems’ GBA clas­sic first made its de­but and, as it should hap­pen, when a group of hard-work­ing de­vel­op­ers spend all that time ru­mi­nat­ing on what it is that makes it so bloody won­der­ful, they may just come up with some­thing that sur­passes it en­tirely. That’s right, we’re go­ing there; Chuck­le­fish is putting to­gether a won­der­ful pack­age in War­groove, the charm­ing 2D grid­based tac­tics game that’s sched­uled to ar­rive later this year.

It’s easy to un­der­stand why the game has been lauded as a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor. It is, af­ter all, an ex­ten­sion of the for­mula, ex­chang­ing mod­ern war­fare for fan­tasy bat­tles whilst re­tain­ing the same tem­pered pac­ing and in­tox­i­cat­ing vis­ual style. But there’s some­thing about the way that it han­dles it­self – the way that it presents its com­plex sys­tems and an ever-en­gag­ing to-and­fro of tem­pered war­fare – that just feels right. Re­freshed and ready to carve out the space to stand on its own two feet in­de­pen­dent of any nos­tal­gia that might hold it up.

While Stardew Val­ley (pub­lished by Chuck­le­fish) sought to di­rectly mir­ror Har­vest Moon, the de­vel­op­ment team on War­groove is sprin­kling in an ex­tra layer of com­plex­ity and chal­lenge to its ti­tle to stand it apart from the crowd. One small (and yet oh-so in­te­gral) ex­am­ple is the way in which it han­dles hero units. While it’s true, Ad­vance Wars did in­deed fea­ture char­ac­ters with spe­cial abil­i­ties, they weren’t units on the ground – di­rectly in the line of fire and li­able to re­ceive dam­age. War­groove brings spe­cialised heroes into play, not only giv­ing you – and a friend, should you be en­gaged in mul­ti­player bat­tles – the abil­ity to turn the tide of a fight in your favour, but it also sig­nif­i­cantly raises the stakes. While these units may be your most pow­er­ful as­set, they are also the cat­a­lyst to con­tinue play­ing – if they die, then the game will grind to an un­timely end.

Chuck­le­fish is also lean­ing heav­ily on the in­her­ent cre­ativ­ity its most ar­dent fol­low­ers will want to ex­press, build­ing pow­er­ful cre­ation tools into the base prod­uct. While sim­plis­tic on the sur­face, they will al­low play­ers to es­tab­lish their own maps and units be­fore push­ing them out into mul­ti­player and even cam­paign sce­nar­ios. It en­sures that War­groove will live long beyond its ini­tial re­lease, grow­ing as the player base does.

War­groove is spe­cial. It’s a delight to play and beau­ti­ful to be­hold. And sure, Chuck­le­fish had one hell of a tem­plate to work off of, but there’s no deny­ing that it has stepped up to the man­tle and will, we’re cer­tain, make it quite dif­fi­cult for In­tel­li­gent Sys­tems should they ever de­cide to have another crack at the beloved se­ries.

While we are still wait­ing for Chuck­le­fish to an­nounce a re­lease date for the PS4 ver­sion we are hope­ful that it will ar­rive not too long af­ter its de­but on other plat­forms.

War­groove is the lat­est pro­ject from the tal­ented folks at Chuck­le­fish. Find out more here: war­groove.com

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