Powargrid is a turn-based strategy puzzle game where you take on your enemies in a grid based war fought with resources and electricity. There’s a couple features here but the bulk of the game is going to be the campaign mode where you go through a sort of story mode and defeat your enemies. You wage war with electricity and that is carried through the grid that you build, along with your power plants and other resources. Throughout the game you will build up your electrical arsenal while you compete with the enemy to take over the board and destroy them. There are moments that feel more strategic than others in terms of maneuvering around the grid and of course the game’s AI can be quite good at times. There’s definitely some good fun to be had here but not without the cost of a few key flaws.
Right from the beginning I could tell I was not going to enjoy the game’s dialogue or story. This is just one of those examples of a game that doesn’t need much in terms of story but the developer insisted on it anyway. I’m all for a story when it’s needed and when it’s done well but there are a lot of times where I point to Super Mario Bros and agree with Miyamoto. Sometimes all a game needs is a minimum framework for a narrative, like old arcade games. Sometimes anything more than that just gets in the way and feels unnecessary. This is absolutely the case here and while it can be overlooked overall, it still needs to be pointed out that you will definitely groan throughout the game. Dialogue is skippable for the most part and trust me – you’ll be glad it is. The dialogue only serves to get in the way of the game.
Sure, there’s some story things happening and you’ll have some tactics explained but this largely could have been avoided. The issue is the plot and dialogue will make you cringe more than smile. It’s just frustrating because the game seems to think it’s more clever than it actually is and the whole time you just want to get back to the game. Think back on when you were trying to hang out with your friends and your Dad wouldn’t leave the room and insisted on cracking jokes. Okay, did you do it? Okay, now rename your Dad, Powargrid and you’ll understand. I hate to complain too much but it just gets in the way of what could have been a more polished arcade style game with similar but more tightly designed mechanics if they developer would have honed their attention, focus, and resources away from dialogue and plot elements that are quite frankly only in the way.
Taking on enemies can be fun but overall the mechanics are a bit simplistic so I think many gamers will get bored before the challenges begin to ramp up. Once the layouts and challenges begin to increase in complexity a bit there is some more fun to be found but even then it isn’t as much as I’d like from this title. The concept here is really nice. My issues with it are on the execution itself. I feel that the developer could have implemented many more elements for grids, pieces, and levels and it would have been much more enjoyable. What we would have instead is proof of a concept of sorts that is somehow finished. I know that sounds harsh but the core idea here could be a lot of fun; I just think some changes and additions need to be done in order to bring it to its full potential.
The music isn’t bad but it certainly feels like it belongs in something else. It almost feels as though whoever designed the music thought it was for a completely different game and found out what is was for when they were finished but didn’t have time to change it. It honestly reminded me of Seinfield but with more of an 80’s rock feel. Again, it isn’t bad but it’s very distracting and just feels so out of place. Sound effects felt more appropriate and fitting to the title but weren’t too impressive. They fit and that’s where they stop. There’s some cool electrical sounding effects but other than that they were rather forgettable.
Powargrid controlled fine with keyboard and mouse and has some nice keyboard shortcuts that will help speed things up. The battles feel a little sluggish at times but can occasionally be a bit of fun. The AI did feel a bit inconsistent at times but was usually right on. There were some times where I didn’t even feel like I had a chance and other times where it felt too easy. Overall though, it felt right but the times where it felt too hard randomly did feel a bit unfair. As a player you want to at least feel like you have a chance, otherwise it just feels like you’re watching a movie where you get your ass kicked. I think my main issue with these situations though is how fast combat feels in battles. I’m not talking about frame rate or anything either but rather the battles themselves just feel a little slow and it can be frustrating no matter what but especially so when you’re losing anyway. When I play a game like this I want it to flow really well, like the electricity on the grid battlefields.
There’s a skirmish mode available as well if you’re just wanting to tweak a few presets and jump straight into the battle and these can be nice if you just want to focus on some practice or jump straight into the match. It’s a shame the campaign felt so off and I wish the developer would have opted for something much more smooth and loose with a narrative if it wasn’t going to be something compelling and interesting. Powargrid has multiplayer as well but during my week and a half of playing the game I was unable to find any matches with anyone so I couldn’t tell you too much about that. I don’t imagine it being too much different than skirmish mode though and I honestly don’t see the community developing too much as the game just doesn’t have enough depth for a community to grow around it.
I plan on checking back in with this game on occasion to see how updates affect it and if any of them alter my thoughts on the game I’ll make sure to add a note to the review with them. The concept itself is neat but without a lot of depth and narrative bogging the game down it’s just too difficult to recommend to most gamers. If you realy dig turn-based strategy games and are looking for something else and don’t mind a slower and simpler experience then this is something you might find some enjoyment in. The issue is that the community is already such a niche genre that there are many more games with more polish and variety that I can confidently recommend.
A Steam Key for Powargrid was provided by Wee Free Studio for the purpose of this review
Powargrid did give me some fun here and there but just felt so simplistic and almost unfinished with its lack of variety and depth for me to enjoy it for too long. I do look forward to seeing future updates and games from Wee Free Studio though as the concept here is nice – it just needed a bit more juice to be what I think they were wanting it to be. If you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games then I’d consider checking it out during a Steam sale. To see me talk about this game and the many other games I play and review look for me on Twitter @Mrjoshnichols. To see more reviews, news, and more on your favorite games make sure to keep it right here at Bagogames!