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Wartales (Switch) Review Mini

by John Rairdin - September 26, 2023, 10:04 am EDT
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An impressive game, but can the Switch run it?

Wartales is an open-world, tactical RPG. In it, you’ll take control of a custom-built party of adventurers. At the start, you’ll select your party’s background, the class of each of your four characters, and do some light visual customization. From there you are dropped into an expansive world without really being told what your goal is. On the one hand I enjoy the complete freedom that Wartales offers its players, however, many complex systems are simply not explained. Rather, it is up to the player to stumble through their first hour or two figuring out systems through trial and error. A familiarity with tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons is certainly helpful, as several mechanics borrow heavily from it.

All that being said, once you do overcome that entry barrier, Wartales has a lot to offer. As you explore the world, you’ll slowly come to understand its various political and social issues. Most encounters can be solved in multiple ways as you align yourself with one side or another. Or you can simply kill everyone. Early on I encountered two men who were planning an attack on a group of passing refugees. I could fight them, join them, or give them some alcohol from my inventory and get them too drunk to remember what they were doing.

Combat will be fairly straightforward to tactical or tabletop RPG fans. Each unit has a set distance they can move based on their stats and the terrain. Once per turn a unit can use their basic attack, with additional bonus actions being available at the cost of valor points. These points come from a shared pool and can be regained by meeting specific conditions in battle, and by resting at an inn. There is a strong focus on drawing enemy attention with one unit then attacking from behind with another to do bonus damage. You’ll want to pay attention to which enemies you engage with, as disengaging and attacking a second enemy while the first still lives, can trigger an opportunity attack. It is a fun combat system that borrows just enough from other sources while putting its own spin on many mechanics.

On paper, I like Wartales a lot. It scratches that freeform western RPG itch and brings a lot of original ideas to the table. Unfortunately, the Switch really struggles to deliver on that ambition. I’ve experienced several crashes back to the Switch home screen, and a few softlocks that required me to exit the game and restart it. This is following some updates which aim to improve stability. Luckily the autosave has at worst made me repeat a single combat encounter. While exploring or in combat, the frame rate is constantly stuttering. This makes just wandering around the overworld feel awkward and unstable. The initial load into a save file is multiple minutes long and even just entering or exiting combat incurs a long wait on a black screen.

Wartales is a game that I very much want to like, and suspect I would, were I playing it on PC or presumably a more powerful console. I have plenty of positive things to say about it but at the end of the day, it just doesn’t run well on Switch. Wartales is a very interesting game, but between poor tutorialization and awful performance on Switch, it may be buried a bit too deep to be worth playing on this platform.


  • Big open world full of quests
  • Flexibility in quest resolutions
  • Lots of customization and freedom
  • Nice soundtrack
  • Some fun twists on tactical combat
  • Constant performance hitches in exploration and combat
  • Many systems aren't explained
  • Regular crashes and locks

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Game Profile

Genre Strategy
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Wartales
Release Sep 14, 2023

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