The war genera is one of the most heavily delved upon topics in the video game medium, with World War II in particular being adapted to the video game format more times than I can count. Many developers have given their go at successfully portraying World War II in a compelling way, that can keep the player entertained and engaged. With all the options available for experiencing this sub genera of games, standing out is both crucial, and difficult. Many World War II games come out and quickly become unspoken of. Partisans 1941 enters this genera in a unique way by looking at the war from a prospective that isn’t told as often as the average war story, from the prospective of a small depot of people fighting and surviving on enemy lines. Partisans distinction in story type goes well with its tactical strategy playstyle. Despite the games promising distinctions from other titles in the genera, the overall experience is lacking in some departments.
Partisans 1941 is a tactical strategy game with an emphasis on stealth. Most missions consist of taking parties of four or more through large levels full of enemies who you need to avoid, or quietly dispose of in the way of your main goal. As you progress you unlock more party members, equipment, and level up your characters through individual character skill trees. Along with this, in between missions you return to your base of operations. From here you can heal your allies, research new items, and manage your camps resources, food supply, and moral.
The missions themselves are fun! The map layouts are fair enough that I never feel like a mission was impossible, but complex enough where it may take me a while to figure out how to approach whatever obstacle I encounter. Enemy layouts are balanced very well. I never had a moment where I thought there were an unreasonable number of enemies in the way. When the game would feature an area with a large number of enemies, their layout was fair, and challenging. Taking out enemies in this game is incredibly satisfying. Picking the right time to run in with a silent melee attack or coordinating all your party members to quickly take out a group of enemies feels fantastic, especially when getting to utilize character specific abilities. Partisans 1941 is at its best when the player is able to analyze the enemy’s locations and movements, wait for them to line up in the perfect position, and then carry out a well-organized attack.
Sadly, despite Partisans 1941’s enjoyable combat and level design, there are many components of this experience that are underwhelming at best and intrusive at worst. One component that feels incredibly underwhelming is the games skill tree system. Every character gains skill points after leveling up, and each character has their own skill tree. Although character specific skill tress sound like they provide the player a lot of freedom, the number of times new skills would feel as though they actually had an affect on the game were slim. This made going through the process of individually going through each character and leveling up specific abilities feel like a chore that could have been streamlined by having characters gain abilities automatically as they level up.
The inventory system is incredibly underwhelming. There are so many items that the player picks up just to immediately forget about. Every inventory slot is taken up by a low detail black and white outline of whatever item it may be. Some items like medicine packs and rifle rounds are easily distinguishable, but there are multiple items that are unclear as to what there may be. Unlike most games with a multitude of items, hovering the mouse over an inventory item does not tell you what it is. This becomes incredibly annoying when you have all of your equipment for the mission, possible key items you may have found, and random junk from across the level, all separated across four different character inventories. Also, some ammo is incredibly hard to differentiate from other ammo types, especially when trying to separate the ammo across multiple different characters, all with up to two different weapons. The sub machine gun ammo’s design is four tiny bullets, and the pistols is three tiny bullets, and of course hovering over the ammo does not tell you what type it is!
The story was subpar. As far as World War II Stories this is very generic despite the unique perspective of people stuck behind enemy lines. You start as a general who must escape a German war prison. During the escape you encounter a young man and his injured comrade and you all escape together. This opening feels incredibly over done, and the characters feel very typical as well. Even the missions feel as though they have been recycled from other places. For example, one missions involves stopping an execution in a certain amount of time. This mission is not terrible, in fact it is very fun, but the concept behind it is nothing that hasn’t already been done. The voice acting however is fantastic. Each character’s dialog never feels forced, and nothing feels over or under delivered. Even in moments where the script starts to become generic and typical of an average war story, the actors still manage to make it sound convincing.
Overall, the skill tree and inventory issues, as well as subpar story are nothing game ruining, but do make the game less reasonable to recommend due to the extensive library of media in the genera. The games stealth mechanics, combat, and level design were a good time, but unfortunately those moments are interluded with an extremely unenjoyable, confusing, time waster. After completing each mission, the party returns to their camp. From here players must manage their food and resources, as well as raise moral, upgrade the camp and complete missions. Players assign Partisans with jobs every day, and the tasks are completed when the day ends. This entire portion of the game feels like an incredible waste of time and is the antithesis of fun. Managing your camps food and recourses feels like it only exists to waist your time. It is not difficult to send a Partisan to get food, or go fight a mission since these actions are done automatically without the player seeing them. The action of sending them to do these tasks is not fun either. At the end of the day it makes managing the camp feel like a drag. Sure, gaining resources allows you to upgrade your medical station to heal your party members after missions or gain new items and weapons, but couldn’t items be gained simply by beating the missions? Most items gained from missions directly go into the camp, allowing you to upgrade your base, which then allows you to upgrade things such as weapons. Also, healing your allies feels like a waste of time. Making the player send an injured member to the medicine tent is not required when they could just heal on their own in between missions. I would much prefer playing the actual missions consistently instead of taking a five-to-fifteen-minute detour between missions to manage a camp without any interesting gameplay. I understand that some people enjoy base management mechanics, but this certainly was not my cup of tea.
Partisans 1941 is a good game, with small issues, and a few major annoyances. Where the core gameplay and level design succeed, other elements such as UI and other gameplay elements really get in the way. The camp mechanic was certainly my biggest problem with the game, and it takes up a lot of time. With there being so many options in the World War II genera it makes recommending this game difficult, but I do think there is enjoyment to be had. The stealth mechanics are enjoyable, and missions are overall a fun experience that is certainly worth a try. If you think the camp mechanic sounds fun then I definitely recommend Partisans 1941, but as someone who did not enjoy that aspect I must say proceed with caution.