Make Love, not War?
This review isn’t going to make light of the title and play around with a bit of wordplay about how you should Make War and not love, as that would be silly. Instead, it has to be said that sending aliens to intervene with ‘classic’ battles is an interesting take on the strategy genre.
If we’re reviewing the game on the soundtrack, Make War wins.
For any metalhead likes yours truly, it had me at RAWK! But as the saying goes ‘you can’t judge a game by its soundtrack’ (it’s a real saying, really) so how does the game fair, and what’s it all about? Make War is a strategy game with block-like graphics reminiscent of Minecraft, The Touryst or Soccer Slammers. Take your pick. The only aspect is the graphics are much smaller, and it’s a game about two halves, but with an alien intermediary (you) sent to interfere with the outcome of a real historical battle.
So where does Make War fit when it comes to strategy?
Well, it’s not a real-time strategy, it’s more of a turn-based affair, yet you only have one turn. Each skirmish is set up on a famous battleground. Your group of aliens are sent to meddle with the events by blasting members from each opposing side, or playing tricks on them with traps such as mines of teleporting devices that transport them to another side of the map out of your way, or into the path of an enemy marauder. It’s an unusual one, but it’s quite good, nonetheless.
There are two sides, and at the start of each campaign, you have a select group to work with. Each battle features many objectives; ensure the red team win by x extra people, or teleport and kill x number of people and so on. With each objective complete, you’ll unlock a codec of sorts explaining a new feature to add to your collection, or perhaps an increase to the number available. For example, you start with a couple of mines, then as you progress, they may triple, or maybe you’ll unlock an automated turret. Sometimes there will be a handful of objectives and other times half a dozen that you have to complete to move to the next stage. Once you do this, the dynamics often change with the armies repositioning, or they have new units to battle.
You have the option to set up your play.
Position traps and forces in anticipation for the imminent attack. In almost all cases the enemies will attack one another, but if you place your squad in between, they’ll go for you first. In some cases, you sacrifice your team to buy some time, other times you will use them as bait to lure the enemy closer into your armouries range, or as mentioned above, into a teleport to transfer them elsewhere. Once one of the sides are dead, you replay the same map, or you can pause and restart whenever you want – to unlock the next objective. With this approach, every battle is stripped down into sections; you aren’t fighting a larger campaign, just the same one with a few parameters changed to up the challenge. The locations do change, as does the era – ranging from the Vikings through to more modern battles; each time with the overall objective to interfere and cause additional mayhem.
While Make War is entirely welcome on the Switch, it’s not without its flaws, and it’s most definitely clunky. Moving around the battlefields and swapping out units, removing them or repositioning is a bit of a drag and would be so much better with a mouse. The presentation isn’t particularly great, but you can live with it, and it has a certain charm that has a little hint of Sensible Soccer to it. There are some glaring typo issues, though. Initially, I thought it might be based on the aliens communicating to you, but 20 minutes in and there was an inconsistency. For a game that relies on the odd bit of text such as a tooltip or codec explaining your new unit, you’d think that there would be a bit more attention to detail. It’s like having the window open when you know the sewers are blocked. It won’t ruin your day, but you’re acutely aware of the issue.
If you’re a keen strategist looking for a title on the Switch that isn’t an RPG or requires an age to learn the controls, lore or simply have the time due to family commitments or halfway through the latest Netflix series, Make War doesn’t invade on your precious time due to it’s pick up and play method. Still, it doesn’t offer the same escapism that it’s PC peers offer. Worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.
Review code provided
Platform: Steam, Nintendo
Release Date: 16/04/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Simulation, Arcade, Strategy
Developer: Deqaf Studio
Publisher: No Gravity Games
Download link: eShop