Clea & Wartile – now on the Switch (review)

The Switch remains a platform that’s getting a ton of ports from both the PC world as well as the console and mobile domains. Today we’re checking out two of them, with the Halloween tie-in Clea and the tabletop-inspired Complete Edition of Wartile.

Clea

Every year, we’re greeted with an influx of horror-themed titles in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The Amnesia and Remothered series both returned, and Little Hope is also just around the corner. Clea’s a much smaller production, and this 2D stealth horror game was previously released on other systems before the current version for the Switch was made.

The narrative is about Clea, a girl who lives in a mansion but whose parents aren’t around. With just her and her brother in the building, problems arise when demonic beasts suddenly lurk the hallways of the house and an evil copy of yourself starts to haunt you. It quickly appears that your parents actually had a role in this, and over the course of six chapters you have to find out what’s going on here.

clea2

Gameplay-wise, you’ll encounter familiar tropes like locked doors that need keys to be found, and a few puzzles to halt your progress momentarily, but as a young girl you’ll mostly be hiding from the enemies, who are too strong to face in combat. To help you with this, you can pan the camera a bit or peek through keyholes before you enter a door, but audio cues are a pretty good sign that it’s time to hide as well.

Clea is a small game, but its relatively short length (well under six hours) still feels like it contains more padding than we would have liked. Monster confrontations, and subsequently hiding in a closet, take up a lot of time and patience from the player, so if you’re looking for a more streamlined experience where you stay on top of (and in control of) the narrative that might be frustrating. Still, the art style and bizarrely creepy narrative made it worth the journey for me.

Wartile – Complete Edition

Throughout all of its PC and console iterations, I’ve always been interested in the digital tabletop title Wartile, but I never played the game until it launched on the Switch. My fascination was mainly with the game’s striking visual style, which essentially feels like every tabletop scenario I’ve ever wanted to build in real life, but didn’t have the creativity or time for.

wartile2

Playwood Project’s game is now out on the Switch, and comes with all the post-release content and updates for the game as well. And as with any Games Workshop tabletop game, there is a narrative to help guide you through the various scenarios as well. In this case, you’re the son of a Viking chief and must protect the village after your father falls to a dark plague that has origins beyond the world you live in.

The gameplay that follows is surprisingly not of the turn-based variety, but plays out in real-time with a cooldown element. Individual battles form story chapters in the narrative, and come with their own maps, objectives and rewards. The main objective is usually to take out the enemies that are present, or to get past them in order to move on or retrieve an item – depending on the mission you might want to pick a different character type from a roster that expands as the game goes on, and you can also swap out their weapons (and thus attacks). Special ability cards add further depth, but learning how to play is never as daunting as many real life tabletop games are.

wartile

While the characters look good, the real star attraction are the game boards that were designed for the various battle scenarios. With their hexagon tiles they reflect what you’d expect from a tabletop game, but the detail that’s been applied to them makes for lush dioramas that feel like you’d pay good money to have in a physical setting – at least if you’re not into the practice of making your own. The Switch can struggle a bit in terms of performance when things get busy on screen and the camera can act up as well, but for the most part this is a lovely port to look at – and the music and sounds are excellent at bringing the experience to life as well.

It’s worth pointing out that this is a single player only experience, but with the core campaign as well as the post-release story Hel’s Nightmare there is a lot to enjoy here and I’ll happily take a bit of slowdown if that’s the price for being able to this one on the go.

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