War Mongrels from Destructive Creations is a World War 2 story-driven game that requires players to be stealthy and tactical in their approach to levels. As a top-down isometric, real-time stealth tactics game, it’s reminiscent of titles such as Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive. Does it succeed at this formula though?
In War Mongrels, players will take on the role of two Wehrmacht soldiers named Manfred and Ewald. They are caught up in the “Eastern Front” against Soviet Russia and War Mongrels drives this fact home to you quite early with trenches being bombed. Manfred and Ewald soon defect from the German war machine when their companions they were travelling with are killed in a truck explosion. This is not a game for the faint of heart and there are some incredibly brutal scenes throughout the game. Not to mention the game’s subject material itself being quite heavy involving death, murder, torture and war itself.
The story of War Mongrels deals with World War 2 era atrocities and while the game specifically mentions that it’s a work of fiction, it does serve up a historical context in the form of animated comic segments explaining the war machine and what they did along with in-game collectables which further explores this.
Where War Mongrels does falter lies with the fact that the voice acting and the lines that character’s speak can be hilariously bad at times. It’s amusing to hear the voice actor of Geralt of Rivia, Doug Cockle, as Ewald speaking these lines but it does get old quite fast. Especially when you’re reloading a checkpoint for the 20th time because a guard detected you and killed you.
This brings me to War Mongrels core gameplay loop. Each level in War Mongrels involves completing specific objectives with your units. For example, if you have Ewald and Lukas in your party, you will command both of them and try to complete the objective without dying while using their special abilities. This can be done in 2 ways usually. The first method involves being as stealthy as possible and picking off guards on patrol one by one. The second involves simply gunning down the enemy. The latter typically ends with your characters dying and you having to reload a checkpoint to try again. There are certain scenarios where combat does succeed though.
Where War Mongrels stealth gameplay excels is in its “Planning Mode”. Players can pause the gameplay and plan their character’s next moves accordingly. They can then execute these moves at the same time when exiting planning mode. This allows you to take out multiple guards at once for example or simply execute multiple complex moves in one go. Throwing a bottle out to lure a guard and then having one of your characters sneak up and eliminate the guard is great in action and even more so when pulled off using the planning mode.
Gameplay in War Mongrels, therefore, involves playing incredibly strategically and planning your every move. You will end up dying a lot and there’s a lot of trial and error necessary to progress through levels. Learning enemy paths, avoiding their vision cones and observing their actions is paramount to success in getting through levels. Learning your unit’s special abilities and when to make use of them is also essential to progression.
War Mongrels does however suffer from numerous issues. As of writing this review, there’s multiple patches that have addressed a large number of problems with the game including crashing, pathing issues, enemy attacks, saves not working etc. The patch notes on Steam are quite extensive and there’s still more work to be done on fixing this game.
Graphically, War Mongrels looks fantastic. The amount of detail in levels is mind-blowing and this is easily one of the best looking isometric titles out there. Players will find themselves rotating the camera around quite often to soak up all the gorgeous visuals on a level. The soundtrack of War Mongrels is composed by Adam Skorupa and features a lot of atmospheric orchestral tracks which really enhance the gritty and dark theme of the game.
Overall, War Mongrels is a fun tactical stealth game but one that’s bogged down by issues related to unit pathing, strange gameplay bugs and repetitive gameplay that will definitely annoy those that lack patience. Replaying the same part of a level multiple times because of something going awry takes its toll on you throughout the game and we recommend playing the game in bite-sized chunks so as to prevent that fatigue from sinking in.
This game was reviewed on PC via Steam
Developer: Destructive Creations
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox One
Publishers: Destructive Creations, All in! Games SA, Surefire.Games, DMM GAMES Limited
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