A while back, I got addicted to the tower defence genre of games. Developer and publisher Ironhide Game Studio have a new-ish tower defence game out now called Kingdom Rush. I saw ‘new-ish’ because the game has already been out for quite a while, released on PC back in 2014 in fact. Even more ‘in fact’, it was originally released as a flash browser game in 2011, before making its way to iPad and Android. However, it has more recently seen a release on consoles and I’ve been playing the Xbox version for this review.
“Get ready for an epic journey to defend your kingdom against hordes of orcs, trolls, evil wizards and other nasty fiends using a vast arsenal of towers and spells at your command! Fight on forests, mountains and wastelands, customizing your defensive strategy with different tower upgrades and specializations! Rain fire upon your enemies, summon reinforcements, command your troops, recruit elven warriors and face legendary monsters on a quest to save the Kingdom from the forces of darkness!”
Right then, if you have ever played any kind of tower defence game before, then you’ll know exactly what you are getting into here. Kingdom Rush doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and nor does it try to reinvent the wheel. Because, well quite frankly, it doesn’t need to. What this game do is deliver a highly polished and very playable tower defence title that will give you many, many hours of enjoyable gameplay if you are a fan of the genre.
Kingdom Rush does feature a story but originally being a flash/mobile game, the story is not exactly stellar. An evil wizard unleashes hordes of orcs onto an unsuspecting land. You are tasked with defending said land and taking out that evil wizard. Simple, basic and to the point. You really don’t need deep and involving stories with these types of games because the joy does not come from complex narratives and character analysis. Tower defence titles are all about thinking, planning, careful strategising and killing loads of bad guys.
Those early levels get you warmed up, ease you in to the game and you’ll pass them with zero issues. However, the difficulty ramps right up as the game progresses and the latter levels will have you pulling your hair out in frustration. It’s not a bad frustration though, more of a ‘one more try’ frustration. The gameplay here is very typical tower defence fare. You have a few specific towers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Place them in the best possible spot, take out enemies and earn coins. Spend those coins on more towers and upgrades and kill even more enemies. Rinse and repeat until you have (hopefully) successfully defended a level and move on to the next.
But the real joy of the game is working out what tower to place where and when. Do you upgrade now or save those coins for more towers? Perhaps trying to create a bottleneck to lure enemies to a crushing death is a good idea? Kingdom Rush is all about strategy, thinking and carefully pre-planning your next move. You will fail levels time and time again, but you’ll also learn with every failure, you’ll tweak your strategy for next time and get steadily better and better.
You earn stars when you complete a level. The more health that you have at the end, the more stars you will earn. Those stars can then be used to permanently upgrade your towers. Increase damage, lower the costs and so on. You also have the ability to summon a couple of troops or even rain down a fiery meteor strike to help even the odds, working o a cooldown system. Finally, in your arsenal, there are multiple heroes to unlock and use. These mighty warriors can be placed anywhere on the map and unleash some pretty powerful attacks. With the different heroes all having varying stats.
£8 is how much damage Kingdom Rush will do to your wallet. For that £8, you get a really damn good tower defence title. Three difficulty settings with easy being fairly tricky to hard being utterly masochistic. Then there are challenges on each level that’ll test your tower defence mettle and so much more to discover. For a game originally released back in 2011, Kingdom Rush is still massively playable now and the transition from mobile touch-screen to console controller works well. Here’s to seeing other games in the Kingdom Rush franchise ported over. I’m really in the mood for more now.
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