Three years ago , Darkest Dungeon appeared on Kickstarter, an atmospheric and beautifully drawn tactical RPG, nicknamed the “turn-based Dark Souls ” for its hardcore character. She gathered good marks from critics and sold well , so soon other indie studios tried to repeat the success of the project: they copied the mechanics, design and even the atmosphere of the original. The fruits of their labors – for example, the early access Iratus: Lord of the Dead and Deep Sky Derelicts .

So the studio Pixelated Milk also decided to use the Darkest Dungeon formula, but to bring something of its own into it. In WARSAW, the developers promised to show a new approach to the games about the Second World War – but they did not succeed, to put it mildly.

Soldiers of freedom

WARSAW events unfold during the Warsaw Uprising – the most important, in the eyes of many Poles, events of the Second World War. And Pixelated Milk did their best to reliably transfer this period to the game. A map of the city, street names, enemy units and weapons are all based on historical facts. Even random encounters reproduce real eyewitness accounts. Starting video from the first seconds seeks to immerse the player in a depressing atmosphere, and, given that in reality the uprising ended with the partial destruction of Warsaw and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the mood of the game was chosen very accurately. A deep documentary study is perhaps the most impressive aspect of WARSAW.

The enemy will crush you with numbers, and the health of every occupier is more than enough!

But, despite the significance of the historical period, the plot itself in the game is presented very modestly. Before training – a generalizing brief on a black background, and then random scenes in the style of The Banner Saga : an event occurs, and the player needs to choose an option from the list. I must admit that the texts are well written and well convey the mood of the era, and the situations come across very dramatic. For example, my detachment, during another outing, found a crying girl who was hugging a rotting corpse and asked herself to be shot. Such elections ultimately have little effect, but inevitably remain in memory.

As in The Banner Saga, there are obviously no right answers – you have to rely on intuition

Three stages on the road to rebellion

The player faces an almost impossible task: to get rid of the German invaders and survive for 63 days (this is how much the armed resistance lasted). And several colorful plot characters will help him in this (however, they can die at the very beginning of the game) and dozens of others – already completely identical – underground.

The first is the control of rebels from the headquarters of an underground organization. The developers got a combination of headquarters from XCOM: Enemy Unknown and settlements from Darkest Dungeon. Here you can buy all the necessary equipment, choose a task, hire new volunteers and strengthen permanent characters. Gradually, unique units will appear in the player’s squad, in which you can change weapons and pump abilities.

The second is a journey through the points on the map. The badge of the detachment “floats” on the virtual Warsaw of 1944 and stumbles upon the spots of events popping up from the “fog of war”. There are three types of them: finding a clue with all sorts of usefulnesses, a random plot encounter, and, finally, a collision with an enemy patrol.

The tasks are not very original: collect so many supplies, destroy several patrols, help a couple of refugees

The tasks are not very original: collect so many supplies, destroy several patrols, help a couple of refugees

The third mechanic is turn-based combat, which in some ways differs from the battles in Darkest Dungeon. So, instead of one line, the squad is lined up in a column in two, and the soldiers are able to hide behind shelters, which helps to reduce the damage received. In addition to endurance, units have another important parameter – the number of rounds. They are catastrophically small, and when they end, the rebels become useless, because there is no melee yet – they promise to add it in the supplement. In addition, the chance that all your arrows miss, is very high, while the enemy does not miss at all and sends your soldiers to the grave with critical attacks.

Alas, as soon as you get acquainted with all the game modes (and this happens in the first hour of passing), the game completely ceases to amaze. The same enemies are put up against you, simply increasing their numbers, and the recruits arriving to fight the occupiers differ from each other only in the type of weapon. But you can ignore this, because the main thing when selecting a team is to simply cram as many doctors as possible into the team. Key characters die like flies, so without constant replenishment anywhere.

All this, coupled with the tedious resource management, quickly drives into a state of black melancholy – but, it seems, is not at all what the creators intended.

Only from the code can you learn the background of the characters and minor historical facts

Only from the code can you learn the background of the characters and minor historical facts

War against the aftertaste of system errors

Battles and resource management is not the only thing developers have borrowed from Darkest Dungeon. Under the carbon copy went the visual style of the game. However, the developers claim that the similarities are accidental: they say, in fact, they were inspired by the work of Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, and the WARSAW story characters were generally painted with cute faces “under the manga”. Especially the artists worked on the design of opponents – the Nazis really scare and repel. The chosen (or, if you want, borrowed) style is very suitable for the Second World War game: the contrast of colors and rough contours convey the feeling of something truly creepy.

The battle is in full swing, but ammo and health are gone. It’s so difficult to fight that the heroes climb the wall. In the literal sense!

The battle is in full swing, but ammo and health are gone. It’s so difficult to fight that the heroes climb the wall. In the literal sense!

The locations in the battle scenes are pretty, but the soldiers in the foreground still seem to hang in the air. It can be seen that the backdrops were drawn without considering what point the heroes would be on and where the floor should be. In addition, the characters are desperately lacking animations, which is especially striking in the absolutely “dead” base of freedom fighters.

But the game sounds good: the music is pleasant and fits the chosen style. True, for each stage there is only one or two melodies. And the heroes, though not laconic, are soundly soundly voiced: the Soviet soldiers met at times shout curses with a slight Polish accent, but this does not cut the ear.

Overview of WARSAW. Darkest Dungeon based on real events

The technical condition of the game from the moment of release is actively treated with patches. But at the exit, one could see frequent crashes to the desktop, spoiled save, idle perks for the characters, as well as the loss of ammunition, which are already scarce. Sometimes injuries are not treated, and then bleeding every move sends the main character to the forefathers. And when rifle cartridges end and the only character with a pistol smears the fifth move on the enemy, one question arises in my head: gentlemen, developers, did you play your own game? The complexity is so huge, but there is no balance at all, so when similar bugs burst into the passage, you just want to tear your hair out!

Unfortunately, WARSAW loses its role model – Darkest Dungeon – in almost everything. Traveling around the city is boring and monotonous, there are few interactive elements in the shelter, and the combat system is lame due to the huge imbalance and technical problems. You can’t go far in one well-developed atmosphere. Perhaps the game would have been much more comfortable in the format of the visual novel, but the tactical bagel from it is useless.


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