Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

Darkest Dungeon, released three years ago, brought a fresh take on the popular roguelike genre. Players clearly liked the concept of this dark RPG, which was not the skills of the characters and not their equipment, but the mental health and resistance to stress that were the constant companion of the main characters. It is clear that attempts by other developers to somehow do something similar turned out to be only a matter of time. Last year we got to know Deep Sky Derelicts, which many people called the “Darkest Dungeon in space”, and found out that the comparison is not entirely true. Let’s take a look at WARSAW today. The game of the Polish studio Pixelated Milk looks like DD, but what is inside – a banal clone or something original?

Voices from the Underground

The Warsaw Uprising, which took place in August-October 1944, is one of the most dramatic pages in modern Polish history. For more than two months, the rebels of the Home Army fought fierce battles with the Nazis on the streets of their native city, but could not win. The attempt to liberate the capital on its own, without waiting for the approach of the Soviet troops, was the initiative of the Polish government in exile, which thus tried to impose its interests on the USSR – the Poles had no special reasons to love the Soviets after the events of 1939 (the Union, however, reciprocated, recalling the Soviet -Polish war).

As a result – the victory of the German troops, which ended in a large-scale punitive operation, the city was half wiped off the face of the earth and hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded. Nevertheless, the uprising itself for the inhabitants of Poland was and remains a symbol of courage and self-sacrifice of compatriots, which they remember even now.

Knowing this attitude of the Poles to the history of their own country, it is logical to assume that even a computer game dedicated to the uprising, the developers will try to make it truly atmospheric, exciting and reliable, as far as possible for the chosen genre.

The first thing that catches your eye is an almost complete external resemblance to Darkest Dungeon, from comparisons with which there is no escape. But the artists showed their best side: it is the chosen style that makes the characters alive and memorable. Even the Nazis did not become faceless dummies, suitable only for destruction in many battles – in every enemy soldier you can feel the image of a dangerous and strong enemy.

WARSAW game review

Similar events will be regularly encountered while traveling around the city.

The militias are even more interesting: with the exception of a page with skills and a couple of lines in the in-game encyclopedia, almost all information about them is purely visual. But even so, limiting themselves to only appearance, animation in battle and colorful comic inserts at the time of applying skills, the authors were able to create a recognizable appearance for the characters, organically complemented by vivid phrases that they occasionally utter.

Maximum effect with a minimum of funds – the visual style of WARSAW does not impress with the amount of detail or realism, but it is just right for the set goals. Unfortunately, this is where the game’s virtues end (as opposed to trying to copy the creation of Red Hook Studios), and then the problems begin.

native walls

The rebels, as befits any underground, operate in the city covertly, but they still have a central base, where the main forces are concentrated and the control center is located. Here you can send wounded soldiers for treatment, repair weapons, recruit recruits and look at the list of the fallen. With replenishment, everything is not so simple: we have the main characters – characters with a written history and unique appearance, as well as ordinary militias. The latter cannot be changed equipment and skill sets, but they can be hired for a fairly modest price at any convenient time. The plot heroes can only be obtained during missions (not counting the starting trio), but each of them can be upgraded to a veteran by gaining new skills.

There is also an analogue of the market, where you can exchange one resource for another. There are six of them in total – three types of cartridges, flares that help dispel the “fog of war”, first-aid kits and, oddly enough, compasses that allow the squad to move faster. The main currency for trade are certain supplies. But there is another way to replenish the warehouses: each of the Warsaw districts under your control can bring several pieces of certain equipment or supplies per day. In addition, each district also generates “military resources” that affect the driving force of the uprising. The lower it is, the faster the morale drops and the earlier one of the six districts of the city can fall. The areas captured by the Germans cease to supply resources, and the loss of all six means the end of the game.

WARSAW game review

The map of dilapidated Warsaw, although it corresponds to reality, is drawn too casually – like the rest of the interface.

You have to fight for high morale in the city by completing various tasks. Ignored or failed the mission? In the given area, the level of destruction will increase, indicating how many units morale is reduced each day.

It is clear that the loss of even one district can start a chain reaction, but it will not work to pay attention to everyone at once – several tasks are available per day in different parts of Warsaw, and you can only choose one of them. Yes, it is possible to make so-called sorties, which are a banal exchange of supplies for morale, but they do not save either – the loss of all districts remains only a matter of time.

Tasks are very different – from the usual extermination of all enemies to the search for supplies and repair of telephone networks. But, as a rule, it all comes down to visiting a certain number of “points of interest” on the map (which is a rather sketchy, but still recognizable copy of the real map of Warsaw). Sometimes you manage to do without a fight, quickly running around the location and completing your plan. It will not work for a long time to cool off – if the action points that are spent when moving the squad run out, and the mission goal is not completed, then the rebels will be defeated.

“Points of interest” are also different – some of them will help replenish the supply of equipment (if, for example, you found the corpse of a soldier and searched it), and some will put you in front of a choice, depending on which the morale of the uprising or the number of supplies to the hideout. Finally, the city is full of Germans: some do not suspect anything and will allow you to sneak past, while others may notice the detachment even after half a block – in this case, a battle cannot be avoided.

WARSAW game review

Two districts have already surrendered, another one will fall any day now.

Get a grenade, fascist!

Battles are the most important part of WARSAW, if only because it is in battles that you will have to spend the bulk of the game. The basic principles are classic: turn-based mode, the use of skills and abilities, as well as the permanent death of characters. Of the interesting nuances – unlike DD, here both the enemies and our fighters are located in two rows: upper and lower, while an attack on an enemy in the opposite row will be considered an attack from the flank and will cause increased damage. Obstacles play a big role (for example, you can hide behind them or “cast” a provocation on them, forcing the enemy to spend ammo on a pile of trash). Finally, several types of ammunition serve as a kind of mana for using skills – a soldier with a rifle will not be able to use abilities related to it if you run out of rifle ammo.

And everything seems to be there to repeat the success of Darkest Dungeon, but in the end, the battles in WARSAW, despite their importance, have become the weakest link. The mechanics at some points turned out to be completely ill-conceived: the same ammunition can run out at the most crucial moment, and then there is absolutely no chance of winning. Add a simple hand-to-hand combat skill for each fighter – albeit with a low damage indicator, but what is not a way to end the skirmish? It comes to the point of absurdity when you have to run away from the battlefield (which means the failure of the mission), remaining against one enemy, who has one or two well-aimed shots to death. Considering how long the battles here are, situations like this are not uncommon. Sometimes even with full pockets of cartridges it is not easier – a ten-minute confrontation with a lone enemy shepherd dog, skillfully hiding behind an obstacle, I will remember for a long time.

The length of the battles is very annoying, especially since the game has big problems with the balance. Lucky at the very beginning to get a character with an “imba” skill, like a sniper who can kill with one hit – good. Only support fighters got it (or, on the contrary, there is not a single medic), and holes in the ranks have to be plugged by untrained militias? You can immediately give up – at the initial stages of the game, the enemies are very strong and do not make concessions.

A good beta test usually saves from such shortcomings, but the developers, apparently, decided to do without it.

Enemies also have skills and abilities, but you have to learn them by experience – in the codex, opponents received only small descriptions.

***

Most importantly, WARSAW lacks flair, like the mental health system for characters from Darkest Dungeon. Despite the good appearance and the excellent work of artists and designers (who can even be forgiven for completely copying the DD style), the gameplay itself turned out to be somehow insipid. And there is also a noticeable lack of time for development – the game has already postponed the release date, but, apparently, they did not have time to correct all the flaws. The same balance or a schematic interface, sometimes reminiscent of a concept for internal use, are superfluous examples of this.

In general, the new Darkest Dungeon from WARSAW definitely didn’t work out, but it can still become a good game – at the moment, the developers are actively patching their creation and making big plans for the future, promising to fix bugs and add new content. But since there is no “Early Access” dice on the game page, then it deserves only “Prohodnyak” so far.

Pros: bright and memorable characters; music.

Cons: ill-conceived mechanics; balance problems; protracted battles; awkward interface.

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