Amongst the slew of big name releases, major media coverage on the upcoming Next-gen systems and games, or just college life getting in the way, you may easily miss some the smaller games coming out, still breathing life into the already gigantic PSN library. Castlestorm is yet another title to add to your collection this chilly winter season.
Developed by Zen Studios, Castlestorm is primarily a Tower defence game with plenty of variety thrown into the mix to spice up the classic formula.
A predictable, but charming story puts you in the shoes of Sir Gareth, a burly, bearded knight tasked with defending your castle from intruders and stomping the coming opposition as you venture after the once peaceful Vikings, when the Royal blue gem has been stolen.
The story is by no means a gripping tale of woe, and has been treaded many times before. However, the game is aware of this fact and does not take itself seriously. As such, it leads to a much happier and humours experience. It becomes a light hearted romp traversing each of the challenges presented to the player and has plenty jokes and flavour thrown into the dialouge, with nods and references to, “Skyrim,” and “Game of Thrones.” It makes what could be have been a somewhat average story much more pleasing to play through when it simply offers you an enjoyable time.
This is quite a visually pleasing game. The art style is a very well drawn cartoony style, reminiscent of some Saturday morning cartoons, and is bursting with personality, vivid colour and life. The Vikings are large, hairy and brutish, wolves are fiendish and meancing with piercing red eyes, golems send quakes upon the ground they walk as their heavy footsteps pound down with the immense weight from their boulder comprised body, and the backgrounds are all beautifully detailed and brightly coloured, its all a simple delight to the eyes.
The soundtrack featured beautifully compliments the happy and upbeat feel of the visuals. The music bursts forth with an adventurous feel, immediately preparing you for battle. Most of the tunes played throughout all appropriately suit the missions you’re thrown, although, while appeasing to the ear, it can be somewhat repetitive. There seems to be only a handful of songs available, and while well suited, it lacks a certain variety. It by no means takes away from the overall presentation, as they are perfectly catchy, but it does leave something to be desired after you hear the same battle theme on the same battlefield on what is basically the same mission again.
And that was the main problem I had with the game, the campaign mode. While initially the story itself is definitely entertaining and funny to traverse through, the further you progress, the more repetitive the game becomes. You often end up playing what is essentially the same objective over and over that is simply just placed in a different themed stage, with some sort of exposition in the beginning, such as your soldiers going on strike, or getting upset stomachs from eating bad food. It makes it feel as though they just padded the story to try and extend the games length. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the game didn’t lock away most of the single player content until parts of the campaign are complete. It’s just a slight let down that you’re forced to plough through it before being free to play the various fun game modes.
Thankfully, the gameplay itself is where the game shines. It’s a mix of strategy based gameplay, whereby you employ bounds of knights, archer’s horsemen etc. to attack the oncoming threat of enemies trying to destroy your castle, a pretty standard tower defence affair. However, you’re given control of a ballista, mounted to the castle, which allows you to shoot down the foes, or fling everything from bombs to sheep at the opposing castle, in hopes of toppling it down, much in the vain of Angry birds. You’re also given the option of taking control of the titular protagonist himself, Sir Gareth, for shorts periods of time whereby you can mercilessly chop down everyone that stands in your path.
The blending of different genres seamlessly is excellently executed. Other than the sometimes clunky ballista controls being a little too sensitive for precision aiming, it all seem to mesh together perfectly. Switching between firing at enemies, sending out troops, and running down the field as Sir Gareth feels effortless, and is surprisingly natural, with the game doing a great of introducing you to these mechanics through a series of tutorials and missions.
Outside of the campaign, there’s skirmish, where you can fight against an opposing faction by destroying their castle, or being first to capture the flag, Survival mode, where you have to last as long as possible, and Hero survival, where you try to survive as long as possible as Sir Gareth. All these modes are also available on online multiplayer and local spilt-screen, which also allow you to customise your castle, just as in the campaign mode.
Castlestorm is a freshing take on the classic tower defence formula. It does have some small problems, and hiccups which do slightly let down the experience, it more than makes up for it in just about every department. With a variety of game modes all perfectly rolled into one, it does a fantastic job of providing a unique experience seldom found in other titles of the same genre. With a price tag of €10, Castlestorm’s uniquely fun gameplay, and charming presentation is definitely worth adding to your collection this holiday season.