Castle Warriors—real-time strategy that comes knocking on your drawbridge

Posted: September 19, 2009 in Strategy

With all the new game releases over the past few days, one game that is surprisingly good and shouldn’t be ignored is Castle Warriors. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised since I’ve been a fan of the developer GameResort since Biplane. The game doesn’t thrive on overwhelming graphics or complex award systems. And, yet, the game is as engaging and challenging as any hyped or big title game out there.

The best way to think of Castle Warriors is as a hybrid that takes the visuals of ngmoco’s Star Defense and blends it with the real-time strategy in Phil Hassey’s Galcon. And, that’s how you get this maniacally entertaining and immersive offspring. In each battle, a timetable exists in which to accomplish your mission. Fail that, you fail the queen, and wind up living in orc city.

Presented in a series of letters between you and Queen Mynera, the storyline involves a kingdom under a cloud of darkness as evil foes plunder the land. You command an army of warriors, warlords and giants in the war against an overgrown gang of orcs, trolls, ogres and demons who are just as conniving and intelligent as you are. The objective is simple: prevent the enemy conquest of the land by strategically moving troops into battle areas, while at the same time ensuring you have enough troops to survive.

With 3 levels of difficulty—easy, normal and hard—you’ll do battle through 12 maps in a single-player campaign. The maps themselves look amazing, and each has physical geographic features that can both hinder and help depending on how wise you are.

On each map, a series of towers exist with the base of operations for each side initially located on opposing sides towards the back. Castles in your control bear a blue flag while those of the enemy have a red one. Each flag shows the number of troops stationed there. Empty castles do not have flags and are usually ripe for the picking although moderation is a good idea. A mini-map in the upper left corner shows the location of castles and is color-coded accordingly.

The game controls are simple and responsive. As in Star Defense, you can view the area by dragging the screen, although there is an occasional lag especially during multiple battles.. To move troops, you tap on the castle where the troops are located, and then tap on the destination of the other castle. The game does a terrific job of showing troop movements and skirmishes which often happen when opposing forces cross each other in the field. As for selecting the amount of troops, Castle Warriors provides some generic options which you can click through fairly quickly (e.g. move some, move half, move more than half).

The element of time really adds to the challenge of this game. Along the top of the screen is a sliding gauge that monitors time from dawn to dusk. As the day progresses, the visuals in the game also visibly change. Since battles can only take place during the day, and you have a limited number of days to complete your mission, the onus is on you to plan ahead. Keep in mind that the farther away troops have to travel, the more impact time will play since they have a greater distance to cover.

When attacks occur on your castles, an event tab appears at the bottom of the screen identifying the castle in distress. Simply tap on the event tab and you’re automatically taken over to the castle. As you conquer castles and the days pass, additional troop deployments are made available since you’ll lose a fair amount of troops in battle. And, castles also physically upgrade at the end of the day to provide additional defenses and capabilities. Of course, this is also the case for enemy forces.

The gameplay requires quick thinking and even faster actions since you’ll often find yourself defending your own castles against marauding enemies. The strategy is to deploy troops in order to maintain a stronghold before trying to conquer too many towers which will thin out your troops. The best part of the game is the skirmishes which unfortunately are not something you can reliably plan. Visibly, it’s rather entertaining to watch with blood and accompanying sound effects. Hopefully additional updates add a skirmish mode which would only add to the replayability of this terrific game.

GameResort has developed a complete game in Castle Warriors that should appeal to strategy gamers of all levels. It’s one of the better games in delivering an immersive experience that only makes you want to play just one more time.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (terrific strategy game that doesn’t overwhelm you with complexity; engaging gameplay, great visuals and quirky medieval humor)

Check out my review at http://toucharcade.com/2009/09/20/castle-warriors-star-defense-meets-galcon/

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