By giving the franchise a somber visual overhaul, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin could have easily been accused of not only diminishing the property’s cartoonish charm, but also of falling into a thematic pit where hundreds of games containing a grim and serious portrayal of war can be found. Yet, even if those accusations do hold some value, they are ultimately undone because here, for the first time ever, the excellent battles of the saga are met with a storyline that is much more than an excuse for conflict. Given such seriousness in tone happens to overflow into gameplay, which is far more stripped down than that of its predecessor, Dual Strike, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin might be seen by some as excessively dry. But in the end, this characteristic is more of a feature than a flaw: the game does not sink because of it; quite on the contrary, it emerges as an installment that is unique because it is consistently solemn. And it is exactly in this manner that the title does what seemed to be impossible or at least very unlikely: producing yet another Advance Wars game that operates in restrict strategic traditions, but that finds a niche to call its own.