Wintermoor Tactics Club (2020)
Updated: May 22, 2020
Developer: EVC Games
Disclaimer: I received this game for free from the developer.
High school is hard enough without an all-out war between the different groups of students in school, as it happens in Wintermoor Tactics Club. However, this new game is heartfelt and silly adventure to jump in to during these stressful times. Wintermoor Tactics Club is a point-and-click adventure and strategy game about a high school tactics club trying to defend their club. With a delightfully sweet story, a wide cast of characters, and fun RPG strategy gameplay, Wintermoor Tactics Club is an excellent indie with a lot of personality.
Wintermoor Tactics Club describes itself as a inspired by tactics RPGs and visual novels. It definitely does an excellent job of merging the two smoothly together. You play as Alicia, a high school girl who attends Wintermoor Academy, where she is actively involved in Tactics Club. Tactics Club is where Alicia and her two friends Jacob and Colin spend time planning and playing Curses & Catacombs (C&C), an tapletop RPG very reminiscent of D&D. Her little group isn't exactly popular and often finds itself the target of bullying from the football team. The story kicks off when the Principal Eldrich of Wintermoor Academy calls the students in to an assembly to announce a "snowball tournament" between all the clubs of Wintermoor Academy. He declares that the winner of this tournament will be designated the "Ultimate Club", while the losing teams will all be disbanded. Obviously, this sends Tactics Club as well as other clubs into a competitive frenzy, even if they disagreed with the competition's rules. Despite the odds, the Tactics Club uses their strategy and planning work their way through the competition, meeting interesting characters and very "specific" clubs along the way.
When I received Wintermoor Tactics Club to review, I was drawn in to its colorful and cute cast of characters and setting. However, I was nervous to have to play and evaluate a strategy game. I have very little experience playing these types of games or tabletop RPGs and always assumed I didn't really have the patience for them. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the battles. I found them really accessible and well-explained. Although I really enjoyed the character interactions and sidequests, I started to really look forward to the next battle. When they became more difficult, I found it a fun challenge to re-think my strategy and pick different characters and moves, as you could only have 3 characters on the board at a time. I probably spent about 2 hours just re-trying one of the final battles of the game, as it was incredibly hard compared to the rest of the game. I do think the scale of difficulty compared to rest of the game was ramped up too suddenly during this battle, but I was able to rework different strategies to finally get through it. Wintermoor Tactics Club offers a "No-Fail Mode" which you can opt in to if you've failed a battle a few times. I almost took up the offer on during this long and arduous battle, but I was determined to give it a few more tries before going that route. I do appreciate that it exists, though, as you could end up getting stuck way too long just in one battle.
Outside of battles, Wintermoor Academy is a lively school full of unique and often strange characters. Alicia has the freedom to travel between different school buildings on campus and talk to each student, many who are part of other clubs. Much of the game involves Alicia helping students through sidequests, such as delivering messages and talking to other students on their behalf. I was impressed by how many characters, each with their own issues and personality quirks, were a part of this game and how they each played an important part. The dialogue and descriptions in this game felt absolutely fresh and relevant, and often made me laugh as certain clubs were a clear reference to or parody of real-life school groups. Wintermoor Tactics Club has a sense of personality and opinion that you find when you interact with the world. I especially liked exploring the different sections of the library, some were just plain silly and some were pretty shady in a way that I enjoyed. The characters, especially the main characters, felt like real people with real-life issues very much outside of the club. Although very little about the game directly tells you this, Alicia's internal dialogue often hints at how she feels inadequate at Wintermoor Academy due to her financial situation as well as being one of the only black girls in the whole school. I really liked her as a character as she was multi-dimensional and focused on helping others despite her own stress. She was not a typical "hero" character, but one that I found very relatable and powerful due to her empathy.
The music in Wintermoor Tactics Club somehow reminded me of some of the music in MapleStory, a MMORPG I played for years as a teenager, so it automatically made me feel some sort of nostalgia. The soundtrack overall felt bubbly and fun, and even the story turned grim, the music would shift slightly within the same sound to sound grave. I mostly like the art style, as it makes for somewhat silly but vibrant characters, but for some reason at certain angles, some characters looked disproportionate. It may just be the perspective of this point-and-click top view, but some characters had a bottom half that looked way too small and made their heads look big. It's strange, but I only noticed this was an issue on certain characters and not on others. Overall, though, the character art was really well done and the environment art worked really well to give the feel of being within this closed campus.
I thought I'd just give Wintermoor Tactics Club a try, but I ended up getting very involved in figuring out where the story was going and playing more battles. Last night I finally beat the game, which was much was lengthier than I thought it would be, but extremely satisfying to resolve. This game gave me a comfortable and fun introduction to strategy games, and I'm now way more willing and interested in checking our tactics RPGs and strategy games. I highly recommend this game even for those who are not fans of strategy games, as it's very accessible and full of excellent story and world-building. It has a lot of different types of games in one - visual novel elements, exploration, RPG character upgrades, writing stories, and more. Overall, it's a story about finding your place in the world and the importance of connections between one another.
Wintermoor Tactics Club is available on PC.
Played on: PC
Playtime: 16 hrs