Developer: Raredrop Games
Release Date: June 12, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Strategy RPG
I’m not one to shy away from a tactical RPG that tries new things within the genre. And if mechs are thrown into the mix, well, consider me even more interested. The Raredrop Games-developed Warborn borrows these to elements to tell a unique story that only falls apart when you realize that it’s almost impossible to feel connected to the characters or their cause.
Warborn’s campaign is actually told over four commanders, each fighting on different sides of the war. However, aside from the commanders playing differently, missions will play out more or less the same. You see, the game has a strong opening with a lot of potential as you get the hang of positioning your fighters, increasing your units, and navigating the environments. However, you’ll quickly discover that you can use a similar tactic for each mission and get through the entire game without a problem.
The story is told before and after missions, but I believe it is the weakest part of the game, which ties into its mechanics. In a mission, players can take over resource towers that allow them to summon new units to the fight at will. While enemies can also do this, the only challenge of any stage is found in the first 15 minutes because after you’ll have an arsenal of units and a wealth of points to use to summon new ones and you inch your way to to the objective.
Given that this is a tactical RPG, I have enjoyed creating a party of mech warriors that I grew attached to, so I’d think twice about how I use them in combat. With the game’s current flow, it’s easy just to rack up points and summon strong units that wipe out everything in sight, even if it puts them at risk. Sure, some missions don’t allow you to summon new units, but these are far and few between.
Throughout the game, you’ll gain access to different types of mechs to summon to the battlefield. There’s a good variety of units available that are weaker and stronger against other units. Understanding how to take advantage of that is crucial during some matches, but again, it’s possible to just summon six grunt soldiers and chip away at the enemy’s units until victory.
The environments offer a chance to earn some defenses against enemy attacks, but the game sadly doesn’t feature a “Miss” system. This means that each attack, from the player or the enemy, will cause the exact amount of damage as seen in the attack preview unless you get a critical hit. It just makes this whole experience average. Still, the developers do try and mix things up with units who can uncover mines or cause status damage, but all that is negated by the healer unit who is overpowered with a move that heals and removes all status affect.
There’s a real lack of balance across each mission that stems from the game’s core mechanics of summoning as many units as you want. I never felt like I was at risk during any mission, and the only time I had to restart was when I didn’t understand the objective.
Regardless, the soundtrack is full of incredible tracks that make the drawn-out missions somewhat worth it. That said, you are able to speed up actions with the press of a button, but I felt like it could have been sped up a little more.
One of the best parts about Warborn is the character designs, which resemble mechs that you’d see in a Saturday morning cartoon. This is further displayed in the game’s battle screen where the unit’s attack animation is shown. Sadly, there aren’t too many different types of units, and the only distinguishing feature about them a color swap.
Warborn also features a multiplayer mode, that plays out similar to a mission, but mostly rests on who understands the unit’s abilities more. These matches can play out like a tug-of-war, but they do feature some competitive elements about them that make them engaging.
Warborn has a great foundation of SRPG mechanics and beautiful animations. However, I never once felt connected or concerned about my units or challenged after the first few minutes of a match. Each campaign plays out relatively the same, and after hours of gameplay, you’ll feel like you are merely playing the same mission over and over. I enjoyed the overall aesthetic, but nothing about the gameplay held my attention.
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