Partisans 1941

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Partisans 1941 Game Poster Image
WWII strategy game hampered by trial-and-error play.

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While the partisans in Partisans 1941 can be viewed as fighting for the right cause, the tactics used aren't positive. This is, after all, war. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are no positive role models given the actions the characters take. While they are fighting for the right side, the constant focus on murder and destruction limits the characters being considered positive role models.

Ease of Play

The game has several difficulty levels and a tutorial that hand-holds players through the basics of play. On easy, it's a walk in the park, but ramp up the difficulty and you may find yourself using save points often. 

Violence

The game takes place during war, so conflict is constant. Blood shown is just a mist that appears when someone is shot, but there's footage showing wanton violence against innocents. Players will also need to hide bodies at times to accomplish stealthy missions.

Sex
Language

The language attempts to capture the stress and anxiety of the times, and includes words like bastard, but it isn't over the top.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Partisans 1941 is a strategy game for Windows PCs. The story centers around Russian partisans fighting Germans during World War II. That does mean that means death, destruction, and disregard for civilian life occurs during battle sequences. The death scenes aren't exaggerated, but there are execution-style killings, victims will struggle and players may need to hide bodies to avoid detection. While the language is mild, there are still some mature lines ("Kill the bastards!") that pop up occasionally.

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What's it about?

In PARTISANS 1941, Germans have invaded the western borders of Russia, but while they've demolished the Russian army, the Germans struggle to contain a resistance force made up of partisans. Players start by controlling one of the resistance fighters, then expand their efforts into a group that tackles strategic attacks against the invaders. The game combines elements of stealth, strategy, base-building, skill training and resource management. Players will be able to build up a base camp, choose missions, enlist others to join the effort, and skill up team members. It also uses historical elements to give missions a stark and disturbing foundation in reality.

Is it any good?

What starts out a bit rough and visually average title, soon develops into an addictive and entertaining experience grounded in historical accuracy. Partisans 1941 falters when explaining some early key elements, like throwing rocks to distract enemies. For example, you just drag them from your inventory into a backpack slot - like the one linked to the hot key 'Z,' and then hit the hot key to target the location where you want to throw the object/rocks. This is something learned after quite a bit of trial and error. Similarly, the writing comes off as strained, forced and cliche to a war movie, but once you get past those little things, the overall game play seems smart and well done. For example, players can click on an enemy to see where their field of vision may be to sneak past them, or check their suspicion levels before trying to distract them. You can also use the terrain to your advantage for sneaking or hiding bodies so you can complete your mission.

In fact, the strategic elements have a huge impact on the gameplay. The more you play the missions in the game, the more you have the point reinforced that you're working with a small group of fighters against a giant war machine. It also makes you think about the kinds of odds these people faced in real life. The game makes no bones about how despicable the Nazis are in the context of the game, but players should be aware that even though the partisans are clearly shown as good guys, their tactics will sometimes call that into doubt. Technically, the graphics and audio are decent -- they're not the most realistic or detailed, but that's because the focus is clearly on the action and strategy. If you're willing to handle some trial and error in your strategy games and are looking for a game that expands as you invest time and energy into understanding its tactics, Partisans 1941 is a fun ride. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Partisans 1941 affected by the historical presentation of the gameplay? Was there too much violence or was it just right for the game setting? Did the story lead players into violence or was the killing and assassination-style elements inherent in the setting more so than the story?

  • Does fighting for a cause justify the means used? What can be learned from war? What are the good things that can come from it and what are the bad?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $26.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Release date: October 14, 2020
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: Adventures, History
  • ESRB rating: NR for Blood, mature language, scenes of war and cruelty to civilians
  • Last updated: October 20, 2020

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