The Battle for Wesnoth

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The Battle for Wesnoth is a game that's been long in coming to these reviews. For me, it's one of the purest examples of the indie games I enjoy playing. Not only is it a fun game that's completely free, but it's open source and available on Linux as well. It's rare to find a game that fulfills all of those aspects, so let's take a look at it.

Screenshot 1
A battle by the river

Wesnoth is a turn-based strategic RPG that feels a bit like a cross between the Shining Force series and Heroes of Might and Magic. The goal of the game is to build up your army and wipe out the enemy forces, turn by turn. The depth of the game comes into play with the positioning of units, using each unit effectively, and keeping aware of the environment and time of day. By effectively using formations of units, you can prevent enemy units from passing, and use these blockades to gain advantages over the enemy. Also, capturing towns allows you to build up your army faster, as you gain more resources. There's a lot of territory control involved, making the game quite deep indeed.

At the same time, Wesnoth is very easy to play. Commanding your army is almost as simple as moving your pieces in an online game of chess, and anyone can learn the basics quickly using the provided tutorials. Multiplayer also adds to the experience, and there are always people willing to play a game on the multiplayer servers.

If you prefer playing single player, the AI is quite good as well, making the single player campaigns (which are all very well made) sufficiently challenging even for the seasoned player.

The graphics aren't anything fancy, as they're just 2D hand-drawn sprites, but they are very well drawn and the entire game looks quite good. Best of all, it runs very smoothly on older machines, so anyone can play.

Screenshot 2
Recruiting new units

The sound effects and music are also well made. The sound of units attacking, and various other effects are good, though not much is needed for a game like this. Some of the tunes are catchy, though there are some that may feel repetitive at times.

But the best part is that the game is in active development and is constantly improving. I started playing 2 years ago, and in that time the music and graphics have improved substantially, and the game balance has been tweaked quite a bit. It's impressive to see all the work that goes into the game.

So of all the games I've reviewed here, Wesnoth is probably the most "ideal" of the ones I've listed thus far, being fun, free, open source, and available on Linux natively. It's definitely worth a try.
The Main Website.

Rating:
Highly Recommended.