Warparty offers a likable and quirky setting for an RTS featuring dinosaurs and zombies but ends up being formulaic and repetitive, with broken AI.
Combining a traditional RTS formula with the likes of dinosaurs and zombies, Warparty is a game that puts a heavy splash of personality in everything it does. With campy voice acting and a cast of stereotypical stone age characters, the game presents a light storyline that's easy to follow for gamers of all ages. Despite the simple narrative, Warcave and Crazy Monkey Studios have released a fairly ambitious title into the crowded RTS market: it has three campaigns, a survival mode, AI skirmishing, online multiplayer, and a multiplatform release that includes consoles. Unfortunately, the stone age title struggles to re-invent the wheel, delivering an RTS game that needs to evolve if it's going to survive.
At its core, Warparty follows a timelessly traditional RTS formula: players gather resources, build an army to destroy their opponents, and upgrade units through technology trees. They must gather two different kinds of resources, though the starting sources for these will drain fairly quickly compared to other RTS titles. This forces players to expand their resource collecting further out into the map much earlier than normal, sparking a careful balance of defensive and offensive unit maneuvering. Warparty's defensive structures are more or less limited to just archery towers, so players will need to keep their army mobilized to defend key locations as required. Unfortunately, this leads right into one of the game's biggest flaws: AI pathfinding.
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When it comes to AI, Warparty is truly back in the stone age. Many units have difficulty pathfinding their way around the map with minimal obstacles, resulting in armies that often get split up when any kind of movement is involved. When combat begins, things can quickly turn from bad to worse as some units begin to engage, but others passively idle as chaos unfolds around them. Units on the attack tend to clump towards one enemy, too, which creates some awkward movement as they waltz by a few enemies to get to the one they haphazardly chose to attack. This forces the player to meticulously micromanage multiple groups of units, and it takes away from the experience as a whole - especially when the army is split into both defensive and offensive squads around the map.
To add a twist to the standard formula, Warparty features hero units that can have a huge impact on how individual battles unfold. Players get to choose certain powers throughout each level that grant different bonuses, and proper utilization of a hero can help protect control points around the maps. There are also shrines throughout select maps that can be captured, granting advantages to the player. These help add a strategic layer to the gameplay, and in tandem with a decent selection of different units across all three factions, Warparty presents a good variety of strategic options for gamers. It's just unfortunate that the game's own AI makes executing these strategic options harder than it ought to be.
Much like the iconic StarCraft series, Warparty has one campaign for each of its three factions. Instead of each mission happening in chronological order, however, each campaign takes place concurrently. If players are defending an objective from an enemy faction in one game, that means in the other faction's campaign they'll likely play the same mission from the opposite side. This lets the developers recycle the campaign maps, but it makes progressing through each individual campaign feel tedious. Beyond that, players can ignore the unique campaign objectives for each mission and simply destroy the enemy base, an act which seems to trigger a victory condition even if the other objectives haven't been met. It's a forgetful campaign as a whole, which is a shame given how unique the setting of Warparty manages to be.
Survival mode challenges players to see how long the can survive against never-ending hordes of players, and it proves to be a challenging experience once the enemies start pouring it. It features an online leaderboard, allowing gamers to compete for bragging rights. The traditional skirmish mode is where Warparty finds its best groove, letting players dive into the stone age action with any of the factions and watching hero units duke it out against one another.
Having a screen full of dinosaurs was always bound to look cool, though the game's old school World of Warcraft-like character models make the game look older than it really is. Its real win here is the creative building and unit design, which offer a satisfying amount of fresh looks for an indie game. Each of the three factions bring their own identity to the table, and their unique playstyles offer a variety in gameplay that many other indie real-time strategy games fail to provide.
Warparty is an RTS with a likable, quirky setting that involves dinosaurs and zombies. Given the creative arsenal that this unlocks, one would expect Warparty to feel a lot more unique than it does. At the end of the day, it's a fairly formulaic RTS with a repetitive campaign and frustrating AI mechanics, though when large armies clash it does offer a cacophony of enjoyable chaos as dinosaurs and zombies meet in combat. These moments come few and far between, though, an indication that Warparty still has a lot of polishing to do if it's ever going to get out of the stone age. At its affordable price point, Warparty is still a somewhat decent option for hardcore RTS fans or gamers looking for a kid-friendly RTS title, though there are still much more polished alternatives out there.
Warparty is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a Steam code for this review.