As one of my favorite genres is turn-based strategy, it was a no-brainer when the opportunity came to preview Warriors: Rise to Glory! You are a warrior (who you can name, by the way), fighting in an arena against other unlucky and unlikely warriors — all for the amusement of the audience/spectators and a deranged emperor. The art style is very cartoonish, while the blood and gore is more realistic — and very plentiful.
When you begin, you can name your fighter and change their face, facial hair and skin color — and since this stays within the cartoon theme, there is a wide variety of tones more associated with a schoolchild’s color wheel than human flesh. This leads to some uncommon combinations, also leading to some tangles with very bizarre-looking opponents.
You start with barely a weapon and no armor. You are also broke. To earn money to buy weapons and armor, you have to go through a series of duels. Defeating each enemy earns coins, with the possibility of gaining soul shards. As per usual, weapons and armor become better the more money you throw at them. However, regardless of your financial situation, you also have to be a specific rank or have a particular level of strength or agility in order to buy high-level pieces. Weapons are swords, axes or ranged weapons; armor starts with a wooden series, then steps up to spiked, and can be equipped on your head, hands, torso, etc.
The duels in Warriors: Rise to Glory! take place on what I constantly call a sidewalk. Both you and the enemy can move forwards (or usually backwards) — along the y-axis only, as there is no lateral or vertical movement. You take turns either swinging or shooting at each other, but every movement or action burns stamina. Both of you have to frequently stop and rest to resupply your stamina — and hopefully health — to be able to continue. Obviously, while resting, you cannot defend yourself should the enemy attack (and vice versa). Timing your rests is just as important as attacking.
Provided you have enough stamina, most strikes generally have different levels. For instance, a melee swing can be light, medium or heavy, while ranged can be either normal or powered. Obviously, you want to do as much damage as possible with each attack. However, the more powerful the swing or shot, the more likely it is for your opponent to dodge it. So while a heavy swing with an axe each turn is appealing, you a) are burning more stamina and b) may be missing them altogether each time, inflicting no harm. You may be missing each time, while he is connecting, causing you the pain! As you wale on each other, the assaults slowly dwindle down your armor before affecting your health. Once the armor’s gone, you start to take the blows immediately to body (health points).
As you progress in Warriors: Rise to Glory! you slowly unlock attributes and skills for your character. Attributes are your regular strength, agility, attack, endurance, etc. You get five points to spend here each time you level up. Are you a min/maxer, giving up agility or endurance for strength? Or do you play more even-steven, trying to keep everything equal without specializing?
Skills have a lot more variety and a wider range of opportunities for variance in playstyles. Some of the skills even have multiple levels to achieve, as well — they range from ‘Arrow to the Knee’ and ‘Charging Rhino’ to ‘Soul Snatcher’. You can get things like extra treasure (Loot Hoarder), health restoration from hitting your enemy (Vampiric Strikes) or shooting specifically at your opponent’s groin (Dirty Shot). You need to read each one for the specifics and the leveling decisions within each category.
Between each duel, you can visit the shops and purchase any earned attributes and skills. And, after a certain number of duels, you go to the Tournament. These are elimination battles to try to get to the baddest of the bad: the Champion. Like any good tournament, these fights are one and done if you lose. Winning moves you forwards, losing moves you… deadwards. If/when you lose, your ‘heir’ starts from the beginning on your behalf — this is the result of my stupendous *cough, cough* first tournament:
Occasionally between battles, a quest pops up. It’s a simple yes-or-no question that costs you money if taken. Beware if you say ‘yes’ to these… or if you say ‘no’. While they are very interesting, they can be dangerous. Until you learn them (I never saw one repeat in the time I played), it’s ‘pay your money, take your chances’… or not. There is also a quick and simple mini-game you can take part in between battles, if you choose to gamble.
Granted Warriors: Rise to Glory! is still in Early Access, but it does have a couple of glaring problems for me. My lesser grumble is that as you’re playing through the duels, they sometimes become ‘timed’. For me, turn-based strategy is never timed. It’s either turn-based or it’s not. Plus, I don’t have the reflexes I had ninety-three years ago. Even though I had a basic grasp on the gameplay, I was shocked (and unhappy) to all of a sudden be put into a timer-run situation — for a few fights in a row, even.
Finally, the deal-breaker. Right after you defeat every opponent, if you have taken their money instead of their life, the following happens: as they’re on their knees — you turn around — and then you fart a large, green mist into their face, accompanied by the requisite sound effect. Although the game, like many others, uses a cartoonish setting, this feature turned a quasi-serious strategy game into a juvenile’s giggly, muddled atrocity. Let me reiterate: this happens Every. Single. Time.
Aside from the hard turn towards the infantile, Warriors: Rise to Glory! is a tolerable strategy game. Hopefully, they are going to address some of the monotony of get-new-guy, duel, tournament, repeat. Granted, I never beat the final, evil dude in the tournament, but the gameplay on the sidewalk was relaxed and sporty. The overzealousness of the flatulence may be to some people’s tastes, just not specifically mine.
This game is in Early Access, previewed using versions 0.404 and 0.41.