Not so long ago I wrote a preview for Partisans 1941. My initial thoughts were that this was a candidate for GOTY and since delving deeper into the game with a larger team and more challenging levels? That statement rings true.
From Alter Games and Daedalic Entertainment (who are clearly having a great year with titles), this real-time strategy is so gripping that it feels like you’re part of The Resistance; highlighting each individual’s skill and putting them in the role best suited.
Everybody plays a part – whether that be male or female, old or young, each person in the team can turn around a mission and save the rest, or take part in a side mission or scavenge the resources needed to maintain the momentum.
Partisans 1941 Review
Partisans 1941 is a game that would go in the ‘for me’ pile. Reviewing it proved to be too distracting as it’s easy to commit yourself to a mission when the kids are due a bath, or the dog needs a walk – all you’re concerned with is levelling up enough so you can unlock the skill that lets you leap over tall fences.
If reading isn’t your thing and you haven’t gone over the preview or know nothing about the game, it’s a fictitious story/set of characters in the very real setting of World War II on the Eastern Front.
You play Alexey Zorin, a Red Army commander who steadily recruits a small army of saboteurs, spies and soldiers that undermine the enemy’s efforts through traits such as ambushes, retrieval of essential supplies and good old fashioned blowing stuff up.
There isn’t one solution for every stage, even if the missions bear some resemblance to the one before, as the AI is pretty harsh – in a realistic and challenging way, but also because there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Partisans 1941 consists of the main missions, affectionately titled ‘Mission Day’ and side-missions. For these additional objectives, you can instruct soldiers to complete an assignment on their merit; the results being determined by the individual’s abilities.
The same applies to who you take out on the main missions. Early on, you don’t have many options and steadily level up your band of brothers (and sisters) based on your playing style.
When I played the early release of Partisans 1941, my preferred style of play was the stealth approach, and this was replicated with the additional levels. There aren’t so many enemies to contend with in the opening stages, but their placement and behaviours are challenging enough that you have to come up with a suitable strategy.
However, as your army increases in size, so does the occupational forces – one particular level was memorable as your team is placed right outside the gates of a large base.
Thinking my scout was out of sight, one of the guards sounded the alarm and approximately 20 – maybe 30 troops ran to my position. There’s no way to steamroll through this game, not that you would want to, so I found myself meticulously killing off one guard at a time, regardless of the mission, as if a continuation of Serial Cleaner.
A Team Of Silent Killers
While there’s some flexibility in your approach to each mission, I couldn’t imagine playing Partisans 1941 other than as a stealth-based game. There’s the option to have a crew with heavy gunners, but this makes noise and takes a bit of time to unlock the ability.
A real-time strategy, I found myself playing the game like chess; placing my team in strategic positions, whether that be for sniping, ambushes or just support for when a run had failed, and I had to make a quick retreat, the additional troops provided the necessary firepower for survival.
It’s relatively easy to use one member of your team to complete the bulk of a mission, but it’s not always practical. On occasion, you can position your team and give them separate commands to take out a small patrol, but note once more that this is in real-time, so killing a guard in plain sight may raise the alarm if you don’t silence them fast enough.
Time is mostly on your side, though, the tactics aspect of the game is to watch for behaviours and synchronise your actions. Unless you trigger the alarm, there isn’t too much on the screen at one time, usually an isolated patrol or similar. But as the enemies have a visible cone of vision, there will be a moment where an off-screen enemy comes into play; you get a glimpse of their line of sight, then they take you down.
Health is an issue in the game, not in a bad way, but that you need to consider it before attacking. There were a few moments where I set up an ambush and ended up losing the skirmish due to poor positioning. Sure, you can revive team members, but not if they’re all dead.
Partisans 1941 uses a coverage system where hiding behind a wall or similar will either give you full, half or zero protection. Often it is to your advantage, but in a lot of cases, you need to invest in the skill tree that improves defensive tactics.
This was one of the many highlights in the game outside of stealth: skill progression. When you complete a mission, you’ll increase XP, and you can invest in the skill tree based on the individual (they differ from pistol use to explosives).
With regards to the resources side of things, it’s not so in-depth that it distracts from the primary campaign, but enough where it makes a difference, and you feel invested in building new structures and assigning soldiers to tasks.