War Mongrels – Review
Follow Genre: Stealth game, real-time tactics game
Developer: Destructive Creations
Publisher: All In! Games S.A.
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

War Mongrels – Review

Site Score
3.8
Good: Fantastic visual presentation
Bad: Riddled with game-breaking bugs
User Score
3.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 3.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Few historical events have inspired as many video games as the second World War, be it over-the-top interpretations like Wolfenstein or more historically accurate titles like Through The Darkest of Times. War Mongrels, from Destructive Creations, falls into the latter category, opting for a stealth-based tactics game steeped in historical accuracy. It actually came out in October of last year, but suffered from game-breaking bugs. A couple of months and a few patches later, we’re taking a look at War Mongrels.

Story

In what could be considered a clever story premise at best, War Mongrels revolves around two Wehrmacht soldiers, named Manfred and Ewald, who end up defecting and taking up arms against their former Nazi comrades. In the opening scenes, it is quickly made clear that the two men are fed up with their soldier lives. While they are on a suicide mission, a lucky artillery strike allows them to escape from the penal unit they’ve been assigned to. After they make their getaway, the two fugitives see the war from a different perspective and they find refuge with their former enemies of the Polish forces. Together with their new allies, Manfred and Ewald, now known as the titular war mongrels, take to the battlefield to fight against the Nazis and make new friends along the way.

Although Manfred and Ewald themselves are fictional, the events portrayed in War Mongrels are purported to be historically accurate, and the game even includes no less than seventy minutes of video about the slice of history it’s based on. That said, developer Destructive Creations is based in Poland, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the game feels somewhat colored and that it glorifies the Polish army. Of course, they’re supposed to be the ‘good guys’ when it comes to fighting Nazis -everyone is- but War Mongrels does vilify the role of the Lithuanians as well, something that comes across as less neutral.

Graphics

War Mongrels’ visual presentation is leaps and bounds above anything else the game has to offer. Environments are filled with lavish detail and the lighting effects are fantastic. Contrasting with the top-down maps are graphic novel-styled cutscenes that serve as a way to convey the emotions of the two main characters. The contrasting styles mesh together surprisingly well, with the exaggerated animated style highlighting the absurdity of war and emphasising how Manfred and Ewald feel about being deceived about the Bolsheviks by the Nazis.

Sound

Destructive Creations managed to round up an impressive voice cast for War Mongrels, -including Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt of Rivia himself. Despite the boatload of talent present, however, none of the voice performances actually work, for a very simple reason: despite the game featuring German, Polish and Lithuanian characters, pretty much every voice you hear has a British accent. It’s a thin line to thread, as having English actors perform with a German accent veers dangerously close to ‘Allo ‘Allo territory, but it’s hard to believe that a studio based in Poland couldn’t get Polish voice actors to perform lines in English. Add to this that the game’s dialogue is written to be as edgy as possible, filled with plenty of swear words, and you’ve got an audio cringefest, although the voice actors themselves aren’t to blame. The music and ambient sound effects are unremarkable too, leading to an ultimately disappointing soundscape.

Gameplay

Before we delve into War Mongrels’ gameplay in detail, we should address the elephant in the room. It’s very clear that War Mongrels takes inspiration from Commandos, the long-dormant series of stealth-oriented real-time tactics games. The venerable franchise still has quite a few fans, so it’s not a huge leap to assume that they’d want to know if War Mongrels is a worthy spiritual successor. Unfortunately, as you’ll find out, War Mongrels is unlikely to build a similar reputation among genre aficionados, unless the game receives some serious patching up.

To the game’s credit, the core mechanics are simple but effective, and they should feel instantly familiar to anyone that’s ever played a similar title in the genre. Before you start your killing spree, you’ll need to figure out enemy movement patterns, discover the best places to hide corpses, and think of ways to lure enemies away from their location. You have a few tools and abilities at your disposal too. Ewald can throw bottles of alcohol, for example, which will distract enemies. Another indispensable item in your toolkit is a marker that lets you know when an enemy is facing towards it, which aids in figuring out movement patterns. Add to this that enemy fields of vision work in two levels, with a striped part that doesn’t detect low-lying items and you’ve got the makings of what should be a decent stealth game, in theory at least.

It’s not all stealth either. This is war after all, and sometimes you just want to blow up some Nazis. War Mongrels gives players ample opportunity to do so, presenting them with elaborate set pieces, such as when you get to crash a truck into a group of enemies. The aim with these bigger bouts of mayhem is to make things look like an accident, as not to arouse suspicion. You also have plenty of firepower at your disposal of course, and the game even displays the audible range of your gunshot, so that you can anticipate which enemies will respond when you pull the trigger.

Somehow, however, War Mongrels succeeds in screwing things up, despite having received several patches, mostly because of game-breaking bugs that are still present. Given the trial-and-error nature of the game, it’s logical that you’d rely on the game’s auto-save function just in case a mission failed. However, although we did see the auto-save icon, the function didn’t work more often than it did, resulting in having to replay entire mission segments we’d cleared before. There were times where the game simply didn’t respond to our input either. A particularly jarring example was when we tried to sprint, which is done by double-clicking, but the character on the screen kept walking along at a steady pace, only to be detected by enemies shortly thereafter. There were times where we tried to kill an enemy after sneaking up to them, only to find that our own character froze and simply stood there. As such, it’s perhaps the game-breaking bugs that are your biggest enemy in War Mongrels, rather than the Nazis. The enemy AI is laughably bad, and will often not respond to corpses they encounter along the way, instead happily continuing their patrol. It all adds up to a game that feels like it missed out on a significant chunk of quality control.

Conclusion

What could’ve been a fantastic spiritual successor to Commandos ends up being a bug-riddled mess that frankly shouldn’t have been released in the state it’s currently in. Perhaps a couple of months (or years) down the line, when the game has received a few more patches, War Mongrels could become worth it, but in its current state, it’s a title that you should avoid. It’s a shame because, from the visual presentation and the attention given to the historical background, a lot of love was put into creating this game, but the end result simply isn’t what it should be.

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War Mongrels - Review, 3.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


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