I love strategy games. Quite a lot of you will probably know this by now. What I absolutely don’t love is that too many companies out there are using this genre as a cash cow. I really loved games like Dungeon Keeper, Settlers, Age of Mythology, (check that one out it’s amazing,) and so many others back in the day. I was part of that generation that saw the original release of Command and Conquer before Westwood Studios got eaten … but that’s a rant for another time. There was a definite golden age in both turn based and real-time strategy. Then the clever sods out there realized that something being turn based meant they could unbalance things with micro-transactions, making it impossible to build and progress without dipping into your wallet. Then a genre that I really loved all went a bit dark and sour for me.
Thankfully, it would appear that in a sea of unscrupulous greed there are a few companies that just want to make games for people to enjoy. This, for me at least is a bit of a bright light because it tells me that there are still gamers out there writing and making games. As long as this continues there will be something to temper the hard business aspect to the craft that we love. This brings me nearly on to one such crew of devs and more specifically onto the game I’m going to be discussing today, Post Human W.A.R.
Post Human W.A.R. is set in an era where the human race has done what the human race does best and made itself extinct. The game focuses on three factions namely the R-Patch, robots that were looking after humanity before the fall and a race of parasites called the Wraak. The later is broken into two factions. You have the larger race of Wraak who attach themselves to various different species of animal and want to see all traces of humanity removed, then you have the Anthropists. These are a specific group who reside on simians, (apes, monkeys, sloths etc.) These mimic the behavior of humans and believe there is a lot to be learned from them. Suffice it to say none of these factions are fond of each other.
I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed playing this title thus far. One major problem with any building game it that it often comes down to who has the biggest army and can squish their opponent. You can’t do this with Post Human W.A.R. and this instantly makes the game a lot more appealing. You select your troops at the beginning of the match and that’s all you get. If you do something daft and get your units killed off that’s just your look out, you won’t be getting any more. Another important point is that this isn’t a resource management game. You’re not interesting in building various structures so there isn’t any micro-management necessary. So why is the game fun? It makes you think differently and that’s good enough as far as I’m concerned.
The best way I think I can describe Post Human W.A.R. is that it’s a little bit like chess with a few objectives thrown in. There is very much a board game feel to this title and this is something I really like. Each map is broken into a series of hexes and your units move around these tiles and attack depending on their movement scores and their range. Some of these tiles add other effects to the units standing on them, so the map’s terrain actually becomes part of your strategy. You don’t want your troops moving on ground that’s going to slow them down for too long but you might want your enemy landing on tiles that will damage them if they stay put. The more options you are given to improve your strategy the better as this all makes for fun play.
The campaign mode currently consists of six levels per faction, each with a different objective. I’ve been playing through the Wraak campaign and I’ve actually had to re-start each level a few times before completing it. The thing about being able to choose your troops at the beginning of the level, (within reason, they cost points and you only have so many to spend,) is that you need to select the right ones. The Wraak army contains everything from penguin tossing polar bears, to owls, to armadillos.
Each of these animals his it’s pros and cons. Some of these beasts are ranged, others airborne, then some are faster or beefier than others. One of the missions I’ve completed, for instance, sees you attempting to take out an Anthropist force before it escapes. You need to find a balance between fast units that may be able to outrun the enemy but aren’t very strong and your slower ones that are much more adapt at meting out damage. It takes a few goes before you get that balance right. This makes for replayability and is therefore definitely a good thing.
I’m talking about one force here so I’d best give you a speedy overview of the other two. The rules remain the same in that units fall into several classes but there are differences between the factions. Don’t expect miracles, these differences are generally, (but not always,) fairly cosmetic. The R-Patch are re-purposed household appliances and the like. I have to admit, there’s something pretty disconcerting about getting hunted down and butchered by a machete wielding oven on legs. The Anthropist army contains everything from pistol toting chips in kaki’s and safari hats to chilled out but amazingly lethal gorillas, to the obvious crossbow carrying sloths. This is totally a matter of what floats your boat but there’s definitely enough humor embedded in this game to make you smile.
Post Human W.A.R. is also very much a multiplayer affair and will see you taking charge of one of the three factions and going out to decimate your opponents base or kill their commander. Something else that’s interesting in this game is that destroying a base doesn’t equal an instant win, instead it starts a timer. Each turn from then on sees your opponent’s entire force lose life and it’s warriors start dropping dead one by one. The ultimate goal is to wipe out your opponents army and this is a very good way of doing it but it doesn’t guarantee a win. What does is killing your opponent’s champion. At the beginning of a match each player chooses a unit to take charge of the rest. This is done in secret. If you find and kill that unit it’s game over and you win. This obviously adds it’s own level of strategy and brings another layer of depth to the game.
Talking nuts and bolts, controls are smooth and responsive, which they should be, this is turn based strategy not a lesson in rocket science. Graphically the game is colorful and the animations are light-hearted and smile inducing. The sound is a slightly different matter. The music is fine and the sound effects are good but get fairly tired quite quickly. Talking monkeys are great as long as they aren’t saying exactly the same thing over and over. This won’t bother a lot of you but it became a bit cringe inducing to me after a while.
So I think I’ve pretty much done the overview and the bits I liked about my time with the game thus far … now what don’t I like? First is that the multiplayer seems really quiet at the moment. I’m not going to be too hard on this, it’s a new game and Rome wasn’t built in a day. This might be a time zone thing or it might come down to a lack of a large player base, (new game syndrome,) but sitting waiting for a match gets really old really quickly. Lets hope that this rights itself in time. The other thing that’s making me a little bit nervous is the appearance of a shop. You get coins by completing so many matches with a certain faction etc etc, (you know the score,) and you spend these on new avatars and skins for your units. As long as this is all you’ll ever be spending them on I don’t have any issues but the minute I see a shop I can’t help but see the lingering shadow of mico-transactions. My little note to developers. Please find other ways of giving us cool stuff. I remember a time when you were genuinely rewarded with unlocks by being good at a game and this didn’t come down to how many matches you could win each day, it came down purely to skill.
All in all, Post Human W.A.R. is a pretty solid start for an interesting little title. Is it world-breaking? No it isn’t. Is it going to win any awards for being the most different thing to hit the market in ages? Not really. Is it something you can play for a good few hours knowing that you’re enjoying yourself and will probably have quite a bit of fun with your mates? Yes it is and as far as I’m concerned this is enough. Not every game needs to be a ten out of ten title to be good. This falls into the category of well worth playing but probably isn’t going to win many awards, still, well worth a go.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.