Sometimes you come across a game you thought you wouldn’t like. It’s probably a genre you are not all that keen about, like a MMO, a puzzle game, tower defense, or even a cinematic adventure game. personally, I never cared for the tower defense games. Though I am usually open to trying out different genres, tower defense games have never appealed to me. They usually all have the same design, and there are about as many tower defense games as there are Minecraft or Super Metroid clones. All jokes aside, I found out about a game that combines tower defense and those medieval-themed beat ‘em ups like Knights of the Round. This game was made by Zen Studios, the guys who make those downloadable pinball games. It is called CastleStorm. Just like in my review of Strength of the Sword 3, this was just an impulse buy after I saw a couple of gameplay videos of it, and I am so happy that I got this game on my Wii U. So, what is this game all about? Is it fun storming the castles? Or should you stay a simple stable boy?
The story is all about the war between the Kingdom and the Vikings. Both factions have been at war for ages. That is, until the Goddess of Peace looked down upon the two armies. She shed two tears that became these stones of power that were obtained by the two armies. The Vikings, however, want both, and after a few battles, the Vikings obtained the stone that the Kingdom had possession of. It is up to the Kingdom to get back their stone and stop the Vikings from taking over the world! The story is not the strongest, but it has a lot of fun, humorous conversations between the characters that easily make up for a simple story.
The gameplay combines one on one tower defense, some mechanics similar to Angry Birds due to the kind of weapons you have, a tiny bit of having enough resources to summon soldiers, and a beat ‘em up experience. That is a lot to take in so I am going to explain each of the games mechanics so you can understand this ambitious mix. You first have your tower defense gameplay where you must defend your own customizable castle against the enemy. You can customize any of the rooms of the castle and their location. You need to strategically place them in the right areas or else, once they get destroyed, you won’t get the perks of that room. For example, if your golem room gets destroyed, you can’t use the golems. One of the ways to protect your castle is the ballista that is at the front of the castle. You will gain a multitude of weapons to use against the enemy, like spears, rocks, explosive fruit, death-seeking hawks, and sheep with digestive issues, to name a few of the weapons you will use with your ballista. The second option is to summon soldiers to attack the enemy base, take down the Vikings, and capture the enemy flag. A certain amount of meat is required to summon a certain soldier. This means the stronger the soldier, the more meat is required to summon it. You have soldiers ranging from swordsmen, archers, priests, knights on horseback, griffins, and rock golems. You will have a set number of soldiers to send out, but you can gain more spots in your army by purchasing upgrades. The last way to defend your castle is to do the fighting yourself. What I mean by this is that you can summon the main knight character and hack away some baddies. You can also use magic spells that will make certain soldiers invincible, give them full health, or take out a multitude of enemies in one go. Everything from the soldiers to the rooms you use in your castle can be upgraded to be stronger; get more coins, more soldiers, stronger walls, and etc. Now, using all of these weapons and summoning soldiers are balanced out by a cool-down timer so you don’t just spam the heck out of your weapons. The game even rewards you for performing headshots and multi-kills. It can take you a few hours to beat, and the missions will offer different challenges. Some of these challenges are that you won’t be able to use your ballista, have any soldiers, only the head knight can be used, and other little objectives within each battle, giving the game a lot of variety and replay value. On top of all of this fighting, you have a multitude of multiplayer options. You have your basic one vs. one mode, a survival mode, and a hero mode where you play as the hero characters and fight waves of enemies. Anyway, for $10, you will get a lot of gameplay out of this one title. There is also DLC for other versions of the game, like on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 that gives you more characters, battles, and other good things to extend this games playtime.
I love the art style of CastleStorm. It reminds me of Blizzard’s Warcraft strategy series when they had the more cartoonish look to all of the characters. It once again shows that having a different art style can really help give your game a personality and an identity. The humor is rather charming, and it was welcome because of the more cartoonish look of this game. The game’s soundtrack is one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a downloadable game. Then again, the music is done by the same guy who did the soundtrack to the popular downloadable hit, Castle Crashers.
Now then, what is wrong with this downloadable title? Well, customizing your castle is a little boring and a tad clunky using the Wii U GamePad. I also feel like you should be able to move the camera out a bit more at times, since some levels will require you to know that you need to launch your arrows above a mountain to get to the castle. Well, the camera doesn’t back out enough to show you that. I also found that some of the annoyances, like getting your soldiers taken away due to some predetermined story moment, got tedious when the enemies don’t have to follow those regulations you are put under. Some say it makes a more challenging match, but how would you like it if you were playing paintball and your gun was taken away, leaving you to find a way to win the match while the enemy side didn’t have to get their paintball guns taken away? Would you say it’s a challenge or would you call out the person who thought this was a good idea?
In the end, these minor issues shouldn’t hold you back from buying one of the best downloadable games on the market. You can get this game on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U. I highly recommend it because, even though it has some clunky elements, the overall experience is fast, funny, and fun. It shows what you can do with a multitude of different gameplay mechanics, combining them to make a substantial experience. Sure, sometimes combining a bunch of different mechanics won’t always work out in the end, but sometimes, you find those games that do it correctly. I feel like I don’t need to say much else, so get on your home console or PC of choice and download CastleStorm if you haven’t already.
This game gets an 8 out of 10.