If you have been following our content long enough, you might have noticed I have done a large chunk of our Viking-themed reviews. I am a fan of various kinds of historical mythology. When it comes to ancient Egypt, I am not quite familiar with much of what has come out of that area in history. When it comes to Greek mythology I really enjoy the epic The Iliad and other mythological stories about their gods. As the years have gone on I have become intrigued with Norse culture and have been loosely following Norse mythology and the stories from that region of our world. Trial By Viking, Valhalla Hills, Northgard, and even For Honor to a certain extent were all influenced by that Nordic culture.
Wartile shares similarities with those games by pulling from the same areas for inspiration, but it does do something different from video games in general. It takes some ideas from the world of tabletop gaming and functions as one but in video game form. There are a few examples that have done this; one of them being Armello. During my time with Wartile, I decided that I really want more games to try and take a stab at blending to two genres—in multiple ways I was left with wanting more.
Spiritual Content: Wartile is centered around Nordic culture. The ancient Norseman believed in multiple Gods back in those times, and this is depicted in the game. Players will gain ability cards that are considered as blessings from these gods. Some arcane-themed abilities are also present; one of these abilities in particular resurrects an undead Viking warrior to aid the player’s characters in battle.
Violence: Wartile’s action takes place with animated figures along a tabletop setting. They don’t actually make contact when attacking each other, but actually take swings to deplete an enemy’s health. The environment can also be used against players, like dropping chunks of ice from above. Characters simply shatter into pieces when defeated.
Disturbing Images: In some stages, there and piles of bones and skulls are laying around across the environment
Deck13 put their own spin on the genre of strategy RPGs and took inspiration from tabletop games. They went all in from the environments, characters, and down to items and the use of cards within the gameplay. Moving and executing actions in an strategy-based RPG usually occurs through turns, but Wartile is different in that they are based on cooldowns. There is a white ring around each figure’s base that will refill when a character can move again. This adds a certain intensity and urgency to each scenario that isn’t often seen in the genre. Though there is an option to slow down the pace if you need more time to think about your actions.
Attacking is simply done by moving your figures adjacent to an enemy. They begin attacking automatically, and each figure has a set of ability cards that can be used in battle, i.e., a stun attack or shield bash. The use of cards is a clever way to take the tabletops aesthetic further; many of these cards are spells and items that the players can utilize from their hand in any given scenario. It does take points to use those cards however; players must gain Battle Points by defeating enemies and completing side objectives to keep using them.
The gameplay loop of Wartile is all about taking on different scenarios, such as getting a particular item or defeating a certain number of enemies. Along with the main objective, there is at least one side-objective that will grant more rewards. Completing objectives also raises the Reputation level that lets players take on new missions and more difficult versions that have already been completed. This loop can sadly feel repetitive after a couple hours. The difficulty tiers and high score tally at the end of each mission almost has a mobile game feel to it. As a result, I discovered that the game is best played in small doses.
Having gotten some of the drawbacks out of the way, there is much I appreciate about Wartile. The diorama game boards are stunning to look at and would clearly be super expensive if someone tried to create those in real life. Forests, mountains, swamps, and snowy terrain are only a few examples of locales that are featured in the game. I personally enjoyed turning the map to get the lay of the land and see where my foes stood and then zooming it out to admire it with all settings on ultra. The graphical areas that could have used more polish where the characters, which didn’t seem to receive as much love and detail.
One of my favorite things about Viking culture is how the region they lived in greatly affected their lifestyle. Their weapons, armor, and clothing are influenced by it. They resort to a more minimal and crude style to survive their environment and beasts of the wild. This is reflected through the gear that can be acquired through every scenario. New armor and weapons can be applied to your Viking warriors as they level up and apply stat bonuses. One of your units who starts off with nothing but a simple spear can be a force to be reckoned with once he has the gear to back him up further into the campaign. My favorite RPGs are the ones where we get new gear to fortify our characters and make them stronger—a sense of progression that adds a much needed depth to the game.
That tabletop aesthetic continues to stand in the forefront when off the battlefield. When not out on a mission we spend our time in a hub area with a map, shop, tavern, and Longship. The tavern is where you can recruit warriors you have unlocked, but its going to cost some gold. The shop contains gear that players can purchase for their warriors aside from the gear that was found during a mission. The map needs no explanation as where missions are selected, whereas the Longboat is where a limit of five warriors can be chosen for that selected scenario. In this hub area there is a section where figures’ gear and loadouts can be customized.
At its worst, Wartile can feel very monotonous at times. Despite that, I appreciate the ambition and the attention to detail that the developers have put into it. This tabletop aesthetic is not entirely common in the world of video games, but it continues to rise. I see great potential to reach the audience from where its inspiration comes from. I would really like to see more done in this same format—possibly fantasy or even a pirate theme. Wartile could have easily taken on any of those themes we tend to see so much of, but we are also seeing a rise in popularity of Viking culture. Wartile is solid mix of these two themes, and more of both is surely welcome.
The Bottom Line
Wartile is a unique concept that doesn't get tackled very often. The tabletop set pieces are a treat to look at while the character figures could use some extra polish. Variety also seems to be lacking, but gameplay is simple and engaging. Wartile is a concept that begs to be expanded into other genres beyond Norse Mythology.