Kaiju Wars Overview
In Kaiju Wars, you’re attempting to stop giant monsters from destroying the city. I say attempt because even when you “win” most of the buildings will look like an angry toddler’s toy box.
You can find a video version of this review on my YouTube Channel!
The unique thing about Kaiju Wars is that you can’t actually win, not in the traditional sense. Everything you throw at the Kaiju is just meant to slow them down long enough for the big brains at the lab to make a serum and then GTFO.
It presents a very unique spin on a turn-based tactics game that can take some getting used to but offers something novel, and that might just be worth adjustment.
|Gideon’s Bias||Kaiju Wars Information|
|Review Copy Used: Yes||Publisher: Foolish Mortal Games|
|Hours Played: 25+||Type: Full Release|
|Reviewed On: PC||Platforms: PC|
|Fan of Genre: Yes/No||Genre: Turn-based tactics/Puzzle|
|Mode Played: N/A||Price: $19.99|
From the moment you hit the game’s main menu, it quickly becomes clear that the developers are honest to goodness fans of Kaiju-based media. From the comic book style stage selection to the numerous old films playing in the background. Each of which features a link to the film since they are public domain.
Kaiju Wars features a very distinct chromatic tint when it comes to visuals. It honestly looks great in action, but it does take some getting used to. Some of the stages have color palettes that are harder on the eyes than others.
The various animations for monster attacks are slick with style. The game also takes cues from board games, both in terms of gameplay and graphically, which definitely makes me giddy.
Kaiju Wars comes off as a very polished game. Its visual style isn’t made for mass appeal, but for an identity that belongs to it specifically. You can’t really mistake Kaiju Wars for another game. The animations for the monsters’ entrances and abilities are well done, and the prompts between phases are neat and look really nice.
The game is full of colorful characters and many rifts and parodies of real and fictional figures, such as Doctor Doome, General Motors, and Dr. C Monster. Kaiju Wars fully embraces the campiness of old monster movies and does a great job with its comedic writing. Unfortunately, it contrasts sharply with the plot, which turns out to be focused on climate change.
There are certainly stories to be told about climate change, but not in a game that is a parody within a parody. Not when people are currently debating the ethics of eco-terrorism, and some are lighting themselves on fire in protest (Neither of which I endorse, just to be clear.)
The game never once loses its humor, but the subject matter itself is current, complicated, and one that’s no laughing matter.
Kaiju Wars follows a very rigid structure, much like a board game. It’s very deterministic, with most random elements being presented to you in such a way that you can use the information to back your decision-making.
For example, a monster will always target the closest building. If there are two equally close, it has a fifty-fifty chance of going toward either. Unlike most tactics games, you are not trying to defeat the monster, not exactly.
You win each stage by generating a number of breakthroughs through research, you simply have to buy Dr. Wager time. Lowering the Kaiju’s health lowers its speed. If you reduce it to zero, you earn yourself a free breakthrough and a few turns to breathe while it retreats.
Kaiju’s War’s strength comes in the form of its many interlocking parts and fantastic level design. Each stage of the campaign proposes a unique challenge and slowly gives you more and more toys from beginning to end.
Tanks & Tyrants
You get access to a variety of units that all function differently. A tank deals extra damage and slows down a Kaiju when it’s stepped on. While Missiles have no counterattack damage but deal more upfront for example.
This is further enhanced by project cards you can draw and play. There are some such as boosting your ground forces for a turn, or prepping experimental weaponry such as a Flying Shark, or Laser Tank.
On the flip side, there are five varieties of Kaiju whose abilities change from stage to stage. And at times, you have to take on more than one at once. A malevolent force also works in the background playing dark projects that can cause chaos, such as placing crisis tiles on the board that shut down your buildings, destroy your units and heal the Kaiju.
They can also breach your security. Once breached the Kaiju heads straight for Dr. Wagner, and she has to survive every level. This forces you to evacuate her to another research center. So you must always plan escape routes and adapt your strategy on the fly.
Kaiju Wars shines brightest when these mechanisms combine. The more freedom you have, the better the game feels. You have a lot of options between units, building placement, project cards, and later in the game, Researchers.
Researchers speed up your breakthroughs based on specific factors. For example, one grants bonus research while you’re building a prototype weapon, and another grants bonus research for labs built next to forests.
All of it flows together beautifully. It’s predictable enough to be a very skill-based game, but there’s enough randomness with dark projects to force you to adapt.
It really is a different kind of game. It takes some visual cues from Advance Wars and Into The Breach but truly plays like neither one. Trying to manage the fact that there’s a flying Lava Monster coming toward your Lab, while a hurricane just lit up your army bases with crisis tiles is a different experience because of how it plays out.
You have to manage the placement of your buildings, not just to produce units, but as targets for the Kaiju. Selecting which projects to play can also be vitally important.
Do you want more research, a money-producing harbor, or a transforming robot fighter jet? Did you layout bases in such a way that you can easily evacuate the doc to another lab? Or will you have several turns with no income while she travels there and the city panics?
While incredibly simple to play. There is a lot of depth and important decisions to be made, and that’s great for a strategy game.
Which is all the more reason why some parts of the game really puzzle me.
Some of the levels in Kaiju Wars take a more restrictive approach and flip the game over from a tactics game to a puzzle game. Most of them are regulated to optional side missions but there are several campaign stages that follow the same principle. In these missions, there is only a handful of ways to win, and sometimes just one.
These levels toss away most of the game’s strengths due to their restrictive nature. You go from forming a fluid plan to doing the game’s equivalent of a crossword puzzle. But one that erases all your answers and forces you to rewrite them if you make a wrong move.
Strict puzzles work best when they are short and sweet. The issue with the puzzles in Kaiju Wars is that they are long. You might play for 10 minutes, make one wrong move, and have to play another 10 minutes. Simply because that’s how long the game takes to get that far with the monster going through its motions destroying the same buildings as before.
One early example is a level where you can’t use any units. You have to build buildings to lure the Kaiju on a specific path long enough to research the required breakthroughs. As far as I can tell, it has one single solution. One wrong move at any time, and you have to do the whole thing over again.
I’m a fan of more open-ended gameplay, to begin with, but I can’t even take satisfaction in solving a puzzle like that because, by the time I get there, the tedium of watching the same animations over and over has eroded my patience. You can speed up some of it in the options menu, but that’s a band-aid at best.
The biggest sin, however, is this is where the game’s interesting setting starts to collapse. You no longer feel like you’re commanding a military to hold back a 500-foot-tall lizard. You feel like you’re moving blocks of a grid to solve a puzzle like an abstract game. It just rubs me the wrong way.
While I consider its puzzle-focused leanings a weakness, thankfully Kaiju Wars has me covered in other ways.
Freeplay, Hard Mode, & Level Editing
As you play through Kaiju Wars you earn medals that can be spent to power up units and buy new researchers. Medals can be earned through optional objectives, as well as hard and free play modes.
Hard mode is a harsher take on the campaign missions, which honestly changes them up quite a bit. Free Play, on the other hand, is harder, but also allows you to craft your own Project deck from those you have unlocked. Since most stages already let you choose your researchers, this really blows those levels wide open for personal strategy and is my favorite part of the game. For even more variety, there’s a weekly challenge to take on.
It’s honestly a bit mind-blowing how much content Kaiju Wars manages to squeeze out of its design. Between the story missions, optional missions, hard mode, Freeplay, and weekly challenge, there are simply hours upon hours of gameplay, and none of it feels like filler.
However, Kaiju Wars also offers a level editor where you can upload your creations directly to the workshop. It’s possibly the easiest and most intuitive in-game level editor I have ever used.
Making and testing your own stages is really simple. Plus you can edit them to the same level of detail as existing ones, right down to the dialogue. If Kaiju Wars has any popularity at all, you will never have a shortage of new stages to play. Even if you don’t make them yourself.
I’m always wary of games like Kaiju Wars because they can very swiftly veer from the realm of tactics games into puzzle games. And I don’t usually enjoy straight-up puzzle games. At times, Kaiju Wars does exactly that. It means there’s a decent chunk of the game that I outright dislike. Especially because it handles its puzzles in what I consider to be one of the worst ways.
However, I really can’t understate how much content is there. Both the hard and Freeplay mode drastically switch up how a campaign level feels, and earning medals to upgrade your forces is a lot of fun. There’s even a local multiplayer option for some stages where one player controls the Kaiju, and it works shockingly well considering how rigidly the game is structured.
The Kaiju player abides by all the normal rules a Kaiju does but chooses which dark project gets played and which option a Kaiju takes if there is more than one.
Since the size of the game’s offering matches the monsters themselves pound by pound. My negative experiences make up a very small portion of my playtime, and I honestly enjoy the game enough that I want to try and earn every medal.
Kaiju Wars Verdict
Kaiju Wars is one of the most polished indie games I’ve had the pleasure of playing prior to release. It mostly runs like a well-oiled machine from the slick animations, clever gameplay, and the fact that my experience was bug-free.
The puzzle-focused stages turn me off, but the variety more than makes up for it. You can burn hours upon hours clearing everything Kaiju Wars has to offer and then burn some more in the easy-to-use map editor. I seriously hope the community takes off and the workshop is full of custom stages. It’s easy enough to use that there are no barriers blocking people from doing it.
There’s just an overall feel-good vibe when playing Kaiju Wars, from the upbeat music, humor, and colorful style. Beating most stages feels really satisfying and you feel clever for finding ways to slow down an unstoppable force.
The Kaiju themselves could have easily become stale, but each of the five offers a unique challenge since their abilities change depending on the stage. How you fight Megalodonkus, the game’s equivalent of King Kong, changes quite a bit when he can suddenly swat down air units that he was previously vulnerable to, for example.
Kaiju Wars is clearly a labor of love from people who love Kaiju, and with it, they manage to take a neat concept and turn it into something great. In most games, it’s you laying slaughter to hundreds of nameless grunts and fodder. In Kaiju Wars, you’re the fodder, and the beauty of it is in the challenge that presents.
Other Reviews of Turn-Based Games
Pick Up Kaiju Wars From These Stores
- Great turn-based gameplay that feels unique
- Five variety of unique Kaiju
- Robust and easy to use level editor
- Solid progression system of powering up troops and unlocking researchers
- Tons of content
- Very polished, great animations, sound and I encountered no bugs
- Great level design, each campaign level is a unique challenge
- The Comedic Writing is amusing
- Climate change is a poor plot point to sit within the campy humor
- The puzzle focused levels are frustrating and don’t utilize the game’s strengths
- Some of the color palettes are hard on the eyes due to the game’s visual style