Released in September of 2020, Warsaw takes gamers back in time to Europe during the Second World War. In particular, the folks at Pixelated Milk position you at the heart of the resistance in Poland in the year 1944. Warsaw, which is the capital city of Poland is war-torn and surrounded by Nazi forces. The situation is dire, terrifying, and heartbreaking, and there’s only one hope… the Uprising. This is where your role comes into play. Your objectives are to resist the Nazi occupation of the capital and to survive at all costs. Resources are scarce and Nazi forces are inescapable, so your every move must be precise and strategic. 

Graphically, this game is presented in an animated or cartoon style, which is done well. If you’re a fan of comic books, then you’ll be a fan of what’s on offer. Each character, weapon, vehicle, and environment has enough detail to give you a pretty good idea of what things looked like in Poland during the Second World War. Character animations are entertaining during battle. Their facial expressions change as they react to each situation. For example, an attacker will grit their teeth as they fire their weapon, and their victim will grimace as they’re being shot. Characters can be seen breathing heavily during battle which I found brought life into each encounter. 

When navigating the city, you’re provided with an overhead view and arrows to guide you. Enemies, areas of interest, and supplies are identified by small icons and are located throughout the map. The map is easy to navigate, but the overhead view was puzzling for me at first, as I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at. Regardless, I like the layout and overall visual presentation of this game. It’s simple, yet appealing. 

In terms of sound, this title hits the mark. Although the game has a depressing score, it matches the set and setting so it’s appropriate. The jazzy instrumental that can be heard while at the hideout is actually quite relaxing and generally nice to listen to, especially while your characters rest and recover from battle. The gunshots, melee attacks, explosions, and vocalizations are captivating. The characters speaking in Polish and German adds to the authenticity of the game. 

When it comes to gameplay, Warsaw is a straightforward, turned-based RPG, so just about anybody who can wield a controller can play this game. Basically, the gameplay is split into quarters. The first quarter includes navigating the map. The second quarter consists of the actual battles. The third quarter incorporates text-based scenarios, which force you to make crucial decisions about your camp’s contribution to the Uprising. The fourth quarter plays out in your camp’s hideout where you will recruit members to the Uprising, level up your characters, plan your missions, barter for supplies, and review information concerning just about everything you’ve encountered thus far in your journey. The difficult part of the gameplay lies in the strategy you employ. Looking back, I made a lot of poor strategic decisions in my first run through and my camp paid dearly. So, pay close attention to the decisions you make and know that cutting corners will not pay off. This game is difficult and not very rewarding initially, but when you eventually succeed it feels great because it’ll be the result of careful planning and timely execution. 

Warsaw is an enjoyable RPG, especially if you’re interested in World War II. However, there are a couple of major drawbacks that I’d like to see improved upon with a patch or perhaps in the follow-up title. Firstly, the characters are recycled too often. What I mean by this is that several of the characters looked identical, even though they had different names. Most of the time I’d have at least two characters in my camp that looked identical, which was a bit of a disappointment. Another aspect of the game that I wasn’t a fan of was not having any main characters. There were some characters that I really liked and wanted to go the distance with, but I’m not confident that it’s possible with Warsaw’s degree of difficulty. I should point out that the characters in the hideout remain, but they are unplayable in battle. Another issue I had with this game is that I felt like there wasn’t enough guidance or timely direction. For example, I was unsure about how to level up my characters or even how to navigate the levelling up menu. Perhaps, I jumped into the game too quickly and skimmed the tutorials, but I feel like a bit more guidance would have enhanced my experience. There were a couple of other minor issues that I had with Warsaw. In general, the fonts are rather small, which were difficult to see from the comfort of my couch. However, the font size is likely not an issue if you’re sitting within arm’s reach of your screen. As well, swapping between characters during battle was sometimes confusing and annoying, especially at first. There are no tiles visible on the ground, so you have to rely on the indicators overhead to swap between characters. In conclusion, I recommend Warsaw to anyone who’s a fan of RPGs or World War 2. This is a game that you’ll get better at the more you play. In turn, your overall experience should improve with time. Despite its drawbacks, Warsaw is a realistic RPG that you can add to your rotation of regularly played games.

~~Eric Collins~~

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