It’s the question that’s been asked time and time again for centuries, if you were to take all the different kinds of warriors from history and dump them into a stadium, who would win? How do each of the fighting techniques, weapons and armour from around the world stack up against each other in mortal combat? Developer Mind Candy took this question and put a family-friendly, playful spin on it to give us World of Warriors, an arena battler with a hint of RPG elements thrown into the mix. The game was originally released way back in 2014 for mobile devices, but recently received a fresh coat of paint and was sent back out on to the PlayStation 4.
From the outset, it’s pretty clear that World of Warriors was designed with a younger audience in mind. The chibi-like warriors feel perfectly at home in the colourful, chunky environments, with the bombastic (and surprisingly catchy) soundtrack all giving the impression that this is something you could play with kids who are learning about history in school. Unfortunately, the story is fairly sparse, with no real context given as to why these warriors are being summoned together, other than to fight against each other and the current inhabitants of the ‘Wildlands’, seemingly just for the sake of it. It’s a shame that the interesting premise for the game wasn’t explored further, because it means there is very little substance to keep you going through to the end. There is the option to play co-operatively with a friend, which can be fun, and up to four players can fight in the arena against each other locally.
Fighting to the death has never been so cute!
The gameplay is super simple and almost anyone would be able to pick it up and have fun without any prior experience. Light attacks, heavy attacks and blocks are all easy to execute, but if you want a little more you can effortlessly master the uncomplicated two-button combo system. There is also an elemental mechanic at play with each of the heroes having one of the usual suspects of earth, fire, air and water associated with them. During a match, the warriors can imbue their attacks with their element, which will either give them an advantage or disadvantage, depending on their opponent.
There is actually quite a decent roster of heroes on offer, but in order to unlock them, you need to collect ‘honour stones’ by taking part in matches across the map and deliver them to your hub-town. As you continue to use your chosen warrior, you’ll gain experience and eventually level them up, granting access to their unique combos and special moves. Most of the fighters play in much the same way though, so you’ll never feel like you have to give up your favourite in order to succeed at the game. You can also use items that you find in battle to craft talismans and potions for your character, which can give them an edge such as increased damage output, more health, or quicker stamina recovery.
This hub-town is where you’ll spend all your hard earned gems and resources
World of Warriors also boasts a variety of arenas to duke it out in, each one offering the player a unique battlefield to learn and exploit as they see fit. There are levels with random environmental effects such as huge water twisters, a rickety wooden platform on the ocean with a devastating titan overseer (who you can turn on your opponent) and even a dark forest level with a nasty magical tree. These can be a lot of fun although the mechanics of the levels are fairly easy to trigger and a lot of the times the outcome of the match can be determined on who set off the effect, rather than player skill. For instance, in the dark forest level, you can easily and quickly reach two of the three magic orbs on offer to initiate an unavoidable attack on your opponent that essentially kills them in one hit. It’s great that the game lets you incorporate level design into your strategies, but I feel like it could be abused, especially if your opponent feels particularly obnoxious.
The biggest drawback for World of Warriors is its tedious and repetitive nature. Every match felt the exact same and it quickly became very boring. Apart from the different levels, each battle felt so similar that I didn’t know (or really care) whom I was fighting, or why I was fighting them. The game did throw in the occasional free-for-all or ‘boss’ fight, but even these are repeated within two levels and swiftly became just another annoying task to complete. Grinding for honour stones and crafting materials will probably not be enough to keep most players interested for very long and looking at all of the locked characters and areas on the map just felt like it would be a chore, rather than something that I was excited to do. There is an online multiplayer mode that offers casual and ranked matches, but unfortunately I found it impossible to find a match, which is a shame because I think there is a significant chunk of focus on pitting your customised warriors against the world.
“I need a hero! I’m holdin’ out for a hero ’till the morning light!”
World of Warriors is cute and fun at times, but overall it’s a bit pedestrian and forgettable. It’s abundantly clear that this is a port of a game designed for mobile devices, but it’s done so in a way that actually works surprisingly well, like the updated visuals and omission of microtransactions. The relics of the previous format persist however and the game is only enjoyable in short bursts, which means it can be hard to justify the price tag. If you have a younger person in your life that is learning about history, this could be a great time waster to enjoy with them, but otherwise you’ll likely struggle to stay interested.
Reviewed on PS4 | Review code supplied by publisher