Set during World War II, Partisans 1941* has you controlling Alexey Zorin, a member of the Red Army who escaped from a German prison camp as he builds his band of Partisans and fights back against the German occupation of Russia. The game mixes ideas from a number of genres but primarily consists of real-time strategy, stealth and basic resource and base management.
The gameplay style instantly clicked with me and anyone who’s had experience with games like Commandos or Shadow Tactics will feel at home here. One main difference Partisans has over the afore mentioned games is the chracter customisation. Instead of being presented with pre-determined classes Partisans lets you level your characters using a skill tree. This means they can be efficient with a chosen weapon or use specialised skills to take advantage.
Another difference is the chance to hit enemies a mechanic seen often in Xcom games, here it has been implemented quite nicely. Rather than being overly complicated the mechanic simply requires you to be closer for weapons like shotguns in order to get the full 100% chance to hit, while rifles can safely have full accuracy at mid range an so on. You can also upgrade hit chance on the characters skill trees for particular weapons. This adds another layer of tactics into how you decide to shape each of your characters.
Tactical mode and tactical map are also nicely implemented fresh ideas. The former being a way to slow down time, often used by myself when carelessly walking into a group of patrolling Germans I hadn’t previously noticed. The later being a live birdseye overview of the entire map allowing you to better plan your route to objective or exit.
Noise levels and stealthiness are probably the the most important factors in the game. Going against most games of similar genres, Partisans makes the gameplay more about completing objectives and escaping rather than killing every enemy on the map. Not to say that you can’t do that if you wanted to. The recommended difficulty is actually very easy and I’d suggest anyone who’s experienced in this type of game to crank up the difficulty a lot.
Partisans is a good looking and well performing game in general but there are still some quality of life improvements that need to be sorted before the full release. Some dialogue has not yet been translated into English, the inventory is a bit clunky and other UI elements can be quite fiddly especially when lots of bodies or items are close to each other. For a tactical based game there is also a lot less information to hand than I would like. It would be nice to see how many days you had before your next mission for example, so that you could better plan your base management and resource gathering inbetween main missions.
These are small complaints in the grand scheme and I have confidence the developers will pull off what needs to be done to make the game as good as it possibly can be. Publishers Daedalic Entertainment also had a hand in Shadow Tactics and you can see that some ideas have carried over into Partisans. I’m confident the full release will be of similar quality.
*Partisan is the name given to a group formed often in secret to fight back against enemy occupation of their home territory. These group members are regularly made up of the local population with little or basic supplies or military experience.