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14 October 2023

War Tales

New on the list of things I have that I didn’t know I needed: Drunken War Pony. In the low fantasy RPG Wartales you take command of a rag tag group of adventurers brought together by none other than the will to live…and to make money. Your special troupe of nobodies is on the road in hopes of finding riches, or finding a glorious end in the process. Wartales, developed and published by by Shiro Games, initially released on PC back in 2021, has recently released on the Nintendo Switch in September 2023.


As a newly grouped band of would be soldiers, your first moments of the game are spent allocating their traits; some positive traits require that you take a negative trait with them, more on that later. After creating your most perfect recruits you’re set free on the world to better it, or to wreak havoc. The choice is yours. You learn through several plot devices be it an emissary at the tavern, or a dialogue box thrown at your face; that the world of Edoran is both beseeched by war refugees (that are heavily discriminated against) and a plague carried primarily by rats. The way you choose to interact with the world will as mentioned before, shape the way that the people view you. Whether you choose to be a goody two shoes law abider that will bring all those who oppose you to justice or a rebellious outlaw set on assisting the refugees or any combination in between you will be met with rewarding gameplay that leaves you wondering what the depths of the carefully crafted progression system will hold.

For my own playthrough thus far I’ve gone the law abiding route so far and will follow it to the extremes that my band of justice wielders will allow. Upon creation I was met with something that I could not have expected to experience in any game. Your faithful pack animals also have access to their own skill trees (which also means beasts tamed later in the playthrough will also have access to such things). For my starter pony I stared in disbelief as I saw the opportunity to make the pony a drunkard (when resting alcohol must be consumed with the meal to upkeep the party's happiness). Upon inspecting the skill trees again I saw the option to make my steed into a war pony. After a few encounters were handled ‘righteously’ my drunk war pony was ready for battle. Simple things like this are absolutely scattered across the game and I feel as though I’ve found barely a fraction of the options available to me. Even though all these options seem overwhelming on paper, the game does an excellent job of drip feeding you information as to not overwhelm the player.

In the open world you move to locations similarly to how a MOBA would control; however, the combat itself is turn based strategy which could lend itself to you losing a few of your friends along the way (including my beloved war ponies). Depending on your choices at the start of the game, you will be able to save scum to try again without repercussions as you learn the simple yet intricate workings of the combat in Wartales.


The control scheme is simple enough to play without any need for anything other than a bit of critical thinking. Left click to move and hold the right mouse button to rotate the camera in open world controls. As for combat controls you can drag around your characters you change their starting positions to preset spots and once combat starts you point and click enemies with whatever skill you have selected (read the tooltip first of course!). The UI is cohesive and easy to read and remember. Do click around or hover over some of the UI elements to make sure you’re not missing anything though; I did end up with many knowledge points saved up at one point as I didn’t realize they were separate from the skill points that characters accrue.


Graphically Wartales holds up well and lends itself well into the immersion of the low fantasy genre. Enemies behave exactly how you would expect and there are even animations to denote when characters are locked in combat with each other. The animations for finishers though lacking in variation do feel impactful and critical strikes are also particularly satisfying to hear audibly in addition to the emphasis that crit numbers presence on screen feels. Overall the graphics and sound design even exceed what you would normally expect from a turn based RPG at this price point.


Wartales is an excellent game. Even as someone who is a bit critical of turn based games, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the experience and was always looking for the next thing to discover. The plot is nothing new but compelling enough to make you want to find out what happens next; with enough build variance and different building blocks to make the experience truly unique this game is an absolute blast. That’s also limiting it to single player. There is also a co-op option where you and a friend can explore and complete tasks together. Though I’ve not tried it I imagine just like most open world games, it’s more fun with friends. The visual and audible parts of the game are also well done and don’t leave a lot to be desired. The game is fairly priced at just about 35$ USD before taxes and at the time of writing this review is discounted by 20% which would make it an instant pick up for anyone who is a fan of open world turn based RPGs.

Plot: 8.5/10
Gameplay: 8.5/10
Controls: 8/10
Graphics: 8.5/10
Audio: 8/10


The Bad

- Gameplay is solid and responsive
- Plenty of build diversity for characters
- Story is immersive and molds to the players actions
- Co op options
- Holds up well in terms of graphics and audio

- Information may still be overwhelming for some players
- Some mini games within profession choices for characters are tedious
- Travel and resource management encompasses a good portion of play time

The Good

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