CastleStorm Review: A Freshening Take On Tower Defense

CastleStorm Title Card GraphicAbout CastleStorm:  “Peace has been upon the realm for centuries. Knights and Vikings have forgotten past grievances, living in civilized coexistence, deriving the benefits of immortality from colorful jewels betrothed by the beautiful Peace Goddess. However, all good things must come to an end, and ominous clouds of war are on the horizon when the Knights’ jewel is stolen and delivered to the hand of the Vikings. It is time to take up arms, deploy mighty warriors, harness the power of the ballista, and master magical spells in your quest to recover the stolen jewel and restore peace to the realm. CastleStorm features colorful enchanted environments, magical spells, and an arsenal fit for above-average medieval warriors.”

“Two opposing castles (the player’s and the enemy’s) combat one other. Each side has a collapsible castle and fortifications and an army that attacks the opposing castle. While the specific objective varies from level to level, destruction of the enemy’s castle and troops via the projectile launcher is the primary gameplay mechanic.

CastleStorm represents a new breed of tower defense warfare, combining elements of real time strategy, resource management, and a beautiful blend of challenging gameplay scenarios.”

CastleStorm Info GraphicAbout Zen Studios:Zen Studios is a global producer and digital publisher of interactive entertainment software for all leading game platforms including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, App Store and Google Play. The company is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary with offices in North America. Zen Studios has worked with some of the largest intellectual properties in the videogame industry, including Capcom’s Street Fighter, Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden and Marvel Entertainment. Zen’s Pinball FX2 franchise on Xbox LIVE Arcade is one of the most popular titles on the platform, has garnered numerous awards, and was named the best selling game of 2011

CastleStorm Quote GraphicThe Looks:  CastleStorm is 2D when playing, but it has regular 3D cut scenes that add a nice wit to the light story prior to each battle.  It has excellent visuals of which are a hybrid of Warcraft and Orcs Must Die in all the right ways.  Colorful quirky visuals really standout on the Vita’s OLED screen.

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What You Hear:  Fantasy style music, which is lighthearted.  The music does become repetitive, but is not overly noticeable at the same time.

Controls/Gameplay:  Luckily the game refrains from using touch controls and sticks to the analogues and face buttons.  A varied set of controls that feels good and makes sense without being overly complex.

The Experience:  CastleStorm freshens up the stagnant genre of tower defense by putting you in control of a ballista and a hero to do battle directly on the battlefield.  With excellent 2D physics used to destroy the opponent’s castle all of which make the game a great enjoyment.  Add in a campaign where you battle for the Kingdom that intertwines with a second campaign with various side quests, CastleStorm has a lot of content to keep you going.

I had a ton of fun with CastleStorm.  The campaign was fun and difficult in all the right ways and broke up the stagnation of doing the same thing over and over again by throwing different things for you to do.  Like battling a giant golem, shooting turkeys, and hunting boars.  The game does a fantastic job keeping you busy and interested.

During the game your main elements of gameplay are shooting a ballista with various unlockable projectiles, such as the ballista and rainbow sheep.  Then there are magical abilities, as well as a the ability to control your hero on the battlefield and fight yourself.  With the hero you fight with sword and shield, and bow and arrows.  Then you send in your troops to attack the other castle to try to capture their flag.  Most missions allow for a variety of ways to complete the mission, be it destroying their castle or capturing their flag.

CastleStorm is an addicting game due to the fun mechanics of play, the destruction of the castle and excellent variety, and the light RPG element of unlocking and upgrading your abilities, units, and magic.  You are able to build your own castle or you can choose between several preset castles.  There are a variety of rooms that are unlocked during the campaign that give you additional abilities.  Such as increased food production, which is what you use to generate units.  Building a castle is simple, the pieces fit together like Legos.  The only thing that is not explained is whether or not duplicates of any room helps in the stacking of those abilities, to which I do not believe it does.

The way the castle works is that each room gives you either additional abilities or your ability to summon troops.  If these rooms are destroyed so is your ability or your ability to generate that unit.  What is cool about how this works is that you do not need to destroy the entire room to remove the troop, you only need to kill the unit inside the room itself.

The game has a lot of nice touches such as when a troll is killed it falls to the ground which crushes other units around it.

The game also features other modes such as Skirmish, which is excellent for a quick game.  As well it has Survival and Hero Survival of which each are wave based with the removal of the enemy castle.

Each level has a five star score system with your time completion and whether or not you completed each secondary objective.  In addition you can change the difficulty prior to each level.  The star system creates the need to try perfecting each level.

The game also features multiplayer.  In versus you can play in either a ranked match or a quick match.  Your unlocks do not carry over from the campaign so after each match you earn gold and you will have to go through that process again of upgrading for multiplayer.  Unfortunately not many people are playing the game (I only played against five people), which means you may not get into a game which is unfortunate as the multiplayer is a ton of fun.  It adds a human element to an otherwise human free gametype.  In multiplayer it becomes even more important in how your castle is built.  Playing against human players ups the stakes and multitasking to a new level.  As more people hopefully pick up the game it should become easier to get into games, either way it is a great addition to the game.  An unfortunate reality of multiplayer is, even if the game is awesome; it still takes a populace to sustain it.  That being said the game is still worth all of your time.

One issue that I had with the game on the Vita was the agonizingly long load times.  Making what would be a quick session take much longer.

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The Good:  An excellent fresh tower defense game that fits well on the Vita.

The Bad:  The multiplayer populace is small, un unfortunate factor.

The Ugly:  Load times on any system or game are bad, here they really stand out.

Who is the game for?  Anyone who enjoys tower defense, both veterans and noobs will greatly enjoy all that CastleStorm has to offer.

CastleStorm Verdict Graphic

Check Out the Game Here


3 thoughts on “CastleStorm Review: A Freshening Take On Tower Defense”

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