Battle Brothers was released on Steam in 2015 and this rogue-lite tactical strategy game was highly rated by almost everyone who played it. Sadly the Switch port didn’t get the same attention to detail that the original got.
Battle Brothers is billed as a dark fantasy tactical strategy game taking its inspiration from other media like Game of Thrones in its tone. And this is borne out in the design and storyline. This isn’t high fantasy, but a darker and grittier world in a style that is becoming more and more popular. And this world is more fleshed out than you would normally expect in a game. The economy of each village, town and city can be impacted by bandit raids, the efforts of each town to expand and rebuild from bandit raids and simple supply and demand making the choices you make as the leader of a mercenary group that much more important. Normally these sorts of decisions tend to be less consequential as they tend to be more binary in nature, but here you must think through your actions and decisions as they can have longer-lasting effects. In some ways, this reminds me of the consequential actions you were tasked with making in The Witcher 3 which released around the same time.
In battle, your actions can be just as consequential as the placement of troops as well as the balance of your company makes each move you make a “life or death” decision. Putting your melee trooper in the way of your archer or use him as a shield for your more vulnerable troops can either kill them or worse have them permanently scarred or disabled making that expensive archer you hired for his particular set of skills next to useless in future battles.
In battle, you must manage two resources – stamina that replenishes each turn and fatigue that builds up over each battle. Stamina determines which actions you can use each turn as some require more than others. This allows you to choose more actions that are less effective or to go for one killing blow that if it lands could swing the tide of battle your way. Fatigue is the more difficult one to manage as it builds up over the encounter and you rotating your troops from the frontline to give them a chance to rest and recover can make the difference between winning and losing or even winning well or poorly. Each encounter, whether against humans or monsters, is always challenging and will always leave you sweating. This is a game that will challenge you every step of the way.
Playing this game on the Switch makes it clear that it was designed for PC from the text on the screen to the control scheme. Turn-based strategy games have been ported successfully to console since the NES days see the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, but this game makes almost no effort to make it easy on the player to play. Menus can become unnavigable especially the text boxes. Selecting troops or enemies in battle is a chore as is choosing the precise spot you want your troops to move to in battle. The lack of care is particularly evident in text size. The 6.2” Switch screen is not tiny, but it is not as large, obviously, as the average PC screen so not scaling the text to the much smaller screen when playing in handheld mode is a baffling decision. Given the amount of text in this game, there is no voice over acting, having the player read tiny text is something that should have been changed almost immediately when the port was put into production.
Battle Brothers is a game that any fans of tactical strategy games should experience as it is an excellent game, they should just play it on PC instead.
You can purchase Battle Brothers for Nintendo Switch here for 22.99.
Developer: Overhype Studios
Publishers: Overhype Studios, Ukiyo Publishing Limited
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