Game

Colorful turn-based wartime strategy without the bloodshed

Price: $3.99/£2.99
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 156 MB
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Developer: Risky Lab

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Warbits is a tactical war game in which rival spacefaring factions settle their disputes through virtual warfare to avoid blowing each other up in real life. It’s a message of peace filtered through the medium of war; a game within a game.

Mechanically, the game borrows heavily from Nintendo’s popular Advance Wars series, a clear and strong influence on developers Risky Bit. This is the studio’s first game, a two-year labor of love polished to perfection thanks to months of beta testing. We’re not afraid to spoil this one up top: Warbits is a great game. But is it right for you? Strategic space battles aren’t for everyone, after all – but perhaps this one will charm you? Let’s take a closer look at the gameplay.

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Tap those robot troops and let them know where to go

In Warbits, players take control of an army of virtual troops across a gridded landscape of lakes, forests and mountains. Its turn-based, meaning you have time to think about what to do before committing to a plan, while all movement and combat is a simple numbers game. On each turn you instruct your troops to attack enemies, capture bases, or just run around. There are sixteen distinct units at play, ranging from infantry to tanks to airships, each with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

You can win a game with force by obliterating your opponents entire army, or with cunning by sneaking behind enemy lines to capture their base. It’s a nice choice to have, and keeps you from using the same tactics every game. Against seemingly insurmountable opposition, sometimes you have no choice but to use stealth, speed and guile to catch them off guard.

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The dots indicate the range it can move in one turn

Combat is built on a familiar rock-paper-scissors style system in which certain units fare better against others. It’s a simple concept, but it forms the heart of the decision making at play here. Several other factors need to be taken into consideration when planning tactics, like the fact that rangers can shoot further when stood atop mountains or that hiding in forests grants a defensive advantage. The game does a good job of drip feeding these rules to you as you progress, so it never feels overwhelming. You’ll learn how to capture buildings to earn money and build new units to beef up your army.

The game has a friendly, humorous tone throughout, with virtual battles fought over such trivial matters as whether or not to serve eggs with ketchup. It’s pretty funny and does a good job of lightening up what could otherwise be fairly dry. Despite a charming retro theme, Warbits eschews the current trend for pixel graphics and sticks it to us with bold, colorful vector artwork. Add that to decent sound design and an excellent user interface and you’ve got a game that really nails the presentation. Little touches such as long-pressing any unit or object to see its stats are very welcome, and the gameplay seems a really good fit for mobile.

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Everything about Warbits is slick and colorful

Warbits’ single-player campaign is solid, and would suffice as a decent game on its own. But if human interaction is your thing, the multi-player mode may be an even bigger draw. You can engage in skirmishes of up to four players over the internet, with asynchronous gameplay in which you take your turn whenever you have a spare moment and then wait for your opponents to do the same. It’s a system familiar to iPhone gamers, and it’s perfect for this type of turn-based encounter – though games do have a tendency to drag on at times.

Matchmaking is decided by a smart hashtag system which makes it easy to find your friends or like-minded strangers, and there are a whopping 40 maps to do battle on. All these levels can be played locally with friends or AI if you get bored of battling strangers. Multi-player really is one of the best parts of the game, but we’d advise you play through the campaign missions first to hone your craft.

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Keep track of your online games from the main menu

Warbits does an excellent job of taking a potentially intimidating strategy genre and distilling it for the masses, without sacrificing depth. The turn-based system means you can squeeze in a few moves on the bus, or sit down for hours of virtual warfare. If you’ve ever dreamed of commanding a robot army, give Warbits a chance.

Review: Warbits – a tactical war simulator for pacifists
For
  • Easy-to-learn combat with surprising depth
  • Great multiplayer with plenty of levels
  • Excellent presentation, and funny too!
Against
  • Maybe you don't like strategy games?
4.7Overall Score