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Classified: France ’44 Review – Tactical Turn-Based Strategy

Classified: France ’44 is a turn-based strategy game set in World War 2, developed by Absolutely Games and published by Team17, and launched on March 6, 2024. The game has you lead an elite squad of Allied operatives in Nazi-occupied France. Borrowing inspiration from titles like XCOM, it delivers a tense and strategic turn-based experience with some unique elements and balanced with outstanding story elements throughout. It gave me memories of playing the older Medal of Honor games with its story elements, and the soldier camaraderie between missions made me connected with the soldiers, similar to Brothers in Arms.

The tutorial does a good job of teaching you how to handle stealth and assault missions, and troop turn management using action points. It was a little jarring initially when doing stealth missions, when you assassinate someone from melee range, their body does not drop, it disappears and instead the threat meter increases regardless. Even when I was two squares away from an enemy, they heard the sound but didn’t get immediately alerted. After four turns of this, you then switch to assault mode and open fire. Each mission environment plays a crucial role with cover systems and lines of sight demanding careful planning of each move, as well as enemy respawn points to be mindful of.

While challenging, Classified: France ’44 offers a refreshing level of forgiveness compared to other turn-based tactics games. I did love how clear it is to see who has what action points left, and that you are not locked into a specific turn-order for your troops. If a soldier falls, they can be revived by another soldier moving to their position. Alternatively, if they survive three rounds while downed, they will automatically revive but with less health than if they were physically revived. This makes the game approachable for newcomers without sacrificing depth for turn-based strategy veterans. 

Outside of the standard gameplay elements in most turn-based strategies with percentages to hit, overwatch, and cover, Classified: France ’44 includes a new morale system that adds a unique layer of tension. While it’s still the same frustration of missing a 65% chance-to-hit shot at an enemy, the shots ricocheting off cover around them that strikes fear into the unit. This reduces their morale to the point of eventually breaking their will and missing their next turn.

This allows you to be able to reposition closer to the unit to get within grenade distance, or to get a better angle to flank their position and take them out in the next turn. However, don’t forget that the same thing can be done by the enemy to your troops. There are primary and secondary objectives to complete for each mission, with primary objectives being mandatory for mission success.

Once you’ve completed a mission in Classified: France ’44, you’ll be presented with options for your next one. It’s subtle, but when you make your decision of which mission to go with next, you’re condemning the fate of the option you didn’t choose which can give weight to your choice depending on your immersion factor with the content. In addition, the time between missions allows you to map out which sectors and factions you want to support next and manage your squad’s skills if they have levelled up from the previous mission. Each soldier type has four specialisation corners that you can aim for which will give specific active and passive skills.

There is also a basecamp screen where you can see your squad sitting around a fire and can listen to characters talk amongst themselves. This not only provides great character backstories for each soldier, but the camaraderie amongst the group as the battles rage on and keeps you invested in their survival from mission to mission. By listening to these conversations, you will recover fatigue and boost morale of soldiers. The narrative provides a decent backdrop for the action, with its focus on the impact of your actions on the D-Day invasion.

Visually, the environments of each mission in Classified: France ’44 capture the war-torn French countryside well. Some soldier movement animations can feel a bit stiff but for the most part the soldiers on both sides are well detailed depending on their class, and you can certainly see visually which ones are more armoured. The sound design is excellent for the most part, though some gunfire sounds a little too bassy. The soundtrack creates a tense atmosphere that perfectly complements the gameplay though.

Overall, Classified: France ’44 is a strong tactical turn-based strategy game with a unique morale system and a decent WW2 story being told. The game offers a tense and strategic challenge that’s both approachable for newcomers and rewarding for strategy veterans. While some aspects like mission variety and replayability could be added to, this is well worth checking out for fans of the genre.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Team17 and Classified: France ’44 is out now on Steam, Xbox and PlayStation.


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