Review: Kaiju Wars Is a Treat for Fans of Monster Movies and Tactics Games

So you’re telling me they made tactics game in the same vein as the iconic Advance Wars and the newer classic Into The Breach but oozing with deep cut monster movie parodies? As a lifelong fan of Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman and every random monster B-movie/series out there, I instantly jumped at the chance to play Kaiju Wars. While this could have easily gone the simple route, I was met with a game that not only wears it influences with pride, but also honors them.

You play as the Mayor of Floatio (or whatever you want to name your city) directing the military to protect the city from the invading Kaiju. These Kaiju are undoubtedly familiar, with a giant monkey, a very hairy lizard, a flying fire monster, and an evasive, humongous snake taking aim at your bases, science labs, and other buildings. Much like nearly every named thing in the game (aside from a few key characters) all of the Kaiju come with customizable names.

Once you get started, you’re met with a pretty great tactical gameplay. You start off  sending out land based troops (including tanks, missiles, etc) or air based units (fighter jets,  bombers, etc) before jumping into crazier gameplay elements like Gundam-like mechs, ice rays, and so much more. Once you’ve deployed your units, it’s the Kaiju’s turn to move through the level and destroy everything in their path.

The difficulty curve is pretty reasonable, with every level in the first act slowly preparing you for what is to come. At first the game seems like a very simple and rudimentary tactics game: you have a monetary limit to what you can deploy and you shift between straight up attacking or slowing down the Kaiju to meet certain turn based goals (which pretty much means surviving). Each level has a variety of elements that challenge players strategies. Levels in labyrinthine forests make moving across the map difficult for land based units while the monkey Kaiju roams freely through them. But the addition of deckbuilding and the constant twists and turns of each level make for something a little different than the average tactics game.  

The deckbuilding is randomized and can be just as big a snag in completing a level, especially as the game gets more involved. Additionally, some of the animations and actual gameplay are a bit slow at times, which comes with the territory. You can turn off some animation and speed things up, but more often than though the game is tied heavily to its style and that means slowly trotting monsters and waiting for what often feel like inevitable positioning. If you don’t complete a level on the first try, you're pretty set on the next couple tries.

As for replayability, there is a lot to do. Beyond attempting to complete all the objectives within a given map (on both Normal and Hard) there are weekly challenges to test your skills. You can also create custom maps with your own missions which can be shared and played by others. If a steady community of gamers circles around this title, we'll all almost certainly be treated to tons of different courses that will surely take advantage of the game’s funniest elements.

Art style is fantastic and pretty consistent throughout every aspect of its presentation. Cut scenes have this old TV scan haze to it, likely emulating the way many of us first experienced Kaiju film on broadcast TV. If you didn’t grow up or are in any way familiar with the monster movies that they are referencing, don’t worry. The game’s starting menu has some old public domain films playing with links to watch them. It seems like a simple thing, but it adds to the game’s aesthetic and love of this great (albeit cheesy) genre.

That extends heavily into the writing which is filled with hilarious Easter Eggs at every turn. Sometimes they are exactly what you expect: a nod to Ultraman here, a joke about the ridiculousness of overeager characters there. But when a random Nintendo Labo line get dropped out of nowhere it hit hard. It’s a tightly written homage to the lovely hokey monster movies of yesteryear and it truly shows.

On that note, that adherence to the aesthetic of the game makes few elements a little on the difficult side. Some things feel a little difficult to find on the UI and menu that could easily be fixed with a few brighter, more actively noticeable headings. This extends to the levels and gameplay as well. The levels tend to have a very bright but limited color palette, giving it that old school vibe of 8 or 16 bit (going from bright pinks to deep reds to dirt oranges). At times I wished it would be a little more diversely colored in each individual level to give it a little bit more diversity like the campaign menu which comes in the form of a comic book.

These may seem like nitpicks and I assure you they are. It doesn’t take much time to familiarize yourself with the game and once you figure stuff out it’s a relative walk through monster destroyed park. If your a fan of either the world of tactics games or monster movies, Kaiju Wars is right up your alley. It's a fine addition to both worlds thanks to the reverence and full on dedication to the style, which elevates the game above the very few things that are a little irksome.

Kaiju Wars is available now for PC via Steam.         

 A Steam key was provided to us for this preview.

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Julian Ramirez