[Review] Make War – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Deqaf Studio
Published By: No Gravity Games
Category: Strategy, Action, Arcade
Release Date: 16.04.2020

War is hell. Bloody fights of nation against nation, tribe against tribe in modern cinema, television, and video games are increasingly more horrific with each new installment in media. Its barbaric nature destroys lands, families, and lives as survivors are permanently scarred with the nightmares of their experience. Not in Make War. In this sandbox sim, it is your joy and duty to relive some of history’s most iconic battles, mediating and toying with the lives of little block soldiers. At least in theory anyway, as broken gameplay and a lack of direction leaves Make War about as fun as the real kind.

The occasional historical context aside, Make War is a sandbox game in the purest sense as it drops the player from one of its polygon ufos into a battle with as little explanation as possible. There’s an argument to be made for too many games easing a player into the fun by holding their hand too long and too tight but in Make War some clue as to what you’re supposed to be doing would be helpful. There’s no story, no characters, no plot or conflict except what disputes adorable block people have to settle through the lens of historical battles frozen in time.

As the impartial third party alien race, it’s your job to tinker and experiment with the tools of death to achieve a set of arbitrary goals that unlock more tools of death. These instruments of misery include turrets, portals, your own foot soldiers, mines, and much more. In keeping with the spirit of sandbox play, it’s your job to discover their lethal use through experimentation. You get the unexpected pleasure of blowing up the good guys because there’s no indication of who is on whose side, or why you’re fighting at all. Just like the real thing!

Perhaps I’m being too harsh on Make War, as the colorful lego people constantly exploding into little cubes would suggest this game be taken with a sense of humor. If only it were so easy to enjoy a game that actively goes out of its way to frustrate you with trial and error. Although it’s labeled as a strategy game, I can’t think of any strategy that would work besides clicking on everything to see what it does and repeating that process until one side kills enough on the other to unlock another mysterious weapon of destruction. Even if that’s a viable strategy, it’s the only one. In make war, you do that over and over until you move on to another one of the games 10 locations to start anew the slaughter.

A game’s challenging difficulty can be overlooked as long as it’s fair, or the objectives are clear and the player must improve in execution. Not so in Make War. Again, just like the real thing, everything is chaos and bloodshed. Does it matter that you’re must fulfill an objective that requires a weapon you’ve neither seen nor unlocked? No sir! War makes men out of boys and resentful, bitter gamers out of me. What little good there is to the game’s basis in history–and I use that expression loosely–is marred by awkward writing from what I presume is a bad translation into English.

Make War does one thing consistently, however. It reaffirms war is a horrible, fruitless affair that should be avoided at all costs except in the most extreme cases. To its credit, it captures that sense of hopelessness and confusion brought to us through the big screen or in stories from men on the frontlines. It does that well. It does everything else poorly. So unless you want to lose a part of your soul on the battlefield, maybe sit this one out and let history write itself.

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