Youngster reviews new video game

My last column was about how I love to make card games and board games. I’ve also written columns about Scratch, which is a programming software used to code video games. In case you couldn’t tell, I like games. A lot.

I was like pretty much every other 21st century kid with access to electricity right now: playing Fortnite, talking about Fortnite, and watching videos of Fortnite. But then, a new game just popped out at me and took me completely by surprise.

Just a few weeks ago I was researching images of swordsmen for a card game I was making when I discovered my favorite image. I clicked on it and was led to a website called “Battle for Wesnoth.”

Battle for Wesnoth is a stunning combination of pixel art and drawn graphics that uses a hex board and a turn-based battle system. It has a heavy fantasy theme featuring elves, humans, dwarves, orcs, trolls, goblins, drakes, saurians and undead.

The game was developed in 2003 and has been steadily updating ever since. It is also open-source, allowing players to easily produce mods and add-ons for the game as they please.

Battle for Wesnoth has a number of “Campaigns,” which are stories that are interspersed with battle scenarios of every design and structure. It is an incredibly creative game because it does not stick to one structure of battle every time, which makes it incredibly fun and unpredictable to play. For instance, instead of every battle being battles fought on plains with a few villages and other markers, the game includes incredible attention to detail with actual dialog during combat, unique NPCs with personalities, well-planned skill sets and flexible battle types. You could be freeing mermen from cages in the middle of an ocean and sending them to charge an orc stronghold during one battle, and later trying to hold out for 12 turns against the forces of a trio of Liches who are constantly besieging your castle.

The sheer scope of the game’s attention to detail and creativity is hard to put into words. Every single fighter on a battlefield has a name, traits that slightly modify their fighting abilities, attacks, and defense and XP thresholds dependent on their class. There are Elvish Fighters and Elvish Archers. These units are both Level 0. If they kill five to six enemies, they level up to Level 1. When they reach Level 1, they turn into a new unit. If the unit is an Elvish Fighter, you can choose to turn them into an Elvish Hero or an Elvish Captain. Heroes have higher damage and health, but Captains increase damage of units around them. Level 0 Elvish Archers can turn into Elvish Rangers or Elvish Marksmen. Marksmen have a high chance of hitting enemies while on the attack, and Rangers are invisible in forests. It just keeps going from there. The leveling-up system is a fun way of keeping it interesting.

Oh, and by the way, did I forget to mention the literally hundreds of units in this game? All with an incredible pixel drawing, most with an actual “drawing,” drawing for use in cut scenes and dialog, and every one with specialized stats–the list just goes on and on.

Right now I’m doing the behemoth of a campaign called Heir to the Throne, which has a whopping 24 scenarios and tells the story of young Konrad, the rightful king who sets out to reclaim the throne from the evil Asheviere.

I can see why this game has taken a very long time to perfect. The amount of work it must have taken to get right is awe-inspiring. I discovered the game Battle for Wesnoth by pure chance, but I am so glad that I did. It was definitely a turning point in my life and I hope to have many more hours spent wrapped up in the stories.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Liam Ulland-Joy, 13, enjoys designing games of all types, writing fiction and editing his videos for his YouTube channel, Saturday Bush Live.