The success of the real-time strategy titles that have been released thus far on the Nintendo Switch, have been a bit hit-and-miss to say the least. Titles such as Pixeljunk Monsters 2 haven’t fared too badly, although its main premise lies firmly with the genre of tower defence; whereas other games, such as Mushroom Wars 2 tries really hard within its mechanics, but fails to produce a formula that truly engages, especially when it comes to solo play. Originally released during the early part of 2017, Siegecraft Commander received mixed reviews on a variety of platforms, such as the PC, Xbox, Playstation and Mobile devices. So how does this real-time strategy, come tower defence game fare now as it launches a release upon the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Blowfish Studios, with publishing through Level 77, this medieval battler requires you to construct a series of towers, each of which are connected by a series of ramparts to create some truly impressive fort-like structures. Across the variety of battlefields, lies an enemy force in waiting and by conjoining your structures together, you build a path towards a series of enemy installations and checkpoints, in order to destroy main hub of the enemy’s structure. The game works in a way in which you have to build out from your hub, advancing across the terrain by shooting out various structures in order to attack the enemy, as well as defend your central hub. However, in an interesting mechanic, each tower built is connected via a series of ramparts, producing spider-like structures that if destroyed, creates a chain-reaction that can potentially wipe out large areas of your fortifications.
Each of the towers at your disposal perform different roles which range from garrisons for troop deployments to armouries for weapon creations and ballistas for airborne defence to mortars for long-range ground attacks; as well as libraries which allow for more magic-orientated abilities. This variation in tower techniques requires some very thoughtful strategy to get the most out of the placements of your towers, as each of the enemy forces which you face are relentless in their execution and provide a formidable opponent. Learning the mechanics of each tower type and their capabilities are an important aspect of the game in order to advance and achieve victory. Despite containing a main role, each of the towers also boast other capabilities that can be unlocked or learnt. These can range from domed shields, regeneration boosts and minefields, as well as a variety of weapons that can be used for different attack or defence variations.
The building and placing of your structures is also just as vital, with the environment also adding to advantageous positions, or places of potential peril. For example, building on a higher ground that overlooks enemy emplacements can give you the upper hand, especially if you build a mortar, which can help to extend the radius of its attack capability. However, you also need to be mindful of enemy placements getting an advantage over your position too, leading to a battle for terrain, as well as against each other. Other factors which come into play also include the need for air superiority and ground-based deployments. Building ballistas and airships can help in airborne dominance, while ground troops spread out to seek enemy emplacements; sabotaging them as they maintain their numbers towards the central hub of the enemy’s keep.
To put it simply, the amount of content, gameplay and game styles are simply staggering. As well as the mechanics of the core gameplay, Siegecraft Commander also boasts a number of modes with which to play. Two campaigns are available from the start, one for the knights of the realm and the other follows the exploits of the lizard armies. As far as battle capabilities and tower variations go, both armies are identical in what they can deploy, although their appearances are unique to each force, making them easily distinguishable. Whatever force you decide to play, each of the campaigns offer an extensive number of levels which can provide absolutely hours of play time. As well as these campaigns, you can also partake in multiplayer battles for up to four players online; each with the option of partaking in real-time or turn-based combat. It all adds to produce a nice touch of variety to the game styles and modes on offer, giving the game a very long-term appeal.
The presentation of the game follows a very cartoon-style in its setting and characterisations. Although both campaigns follow a theme or story of sorts, I found them to be largely uninteresting, particularly in the style in which they were presented with lightly animated characters talking within the pages of a book. The personas and voice-acting were too foolish to take them seriously; a complete contradiction to the tactical strategy that is needed within the core of the gameplay. The musical score also left a lot to be desired, although the sound effects within the battles did fare better. However, the artistic imagery included within the loading screens between stages and modes offered some delicious depictions of the battlefields.
The combat and battles within the game are no easy affair; often with maps and skirmishes that can take up to an hour to complete, depending on your ability. The further you progress through the chapters of each campaign, the more the difficulty of the enemy opponents ramps up. In terms of competition, the game’s AI can be incredibly unforgiving in its tactical approach and battle capabilities. At times, it can feel a bit too easy to become overwhelmed or outnumbered; even leading to a sense that the game can be a bit unfair at times, as you’re central keep comes under constant barrage before you’ve even reached the outer limits of the enemy force. Airships can also become a bind, with the enemy AI producing countless numbers that hampers your overall ability to set up base and provide a solid structure for your tactical approach.
Saying that though, it does create a nice challenge, especially as delve deeper into the mechanics of what each tower can do and you experiment with different setups that can promote more success than others. It may be quite unforgiving and relentless, but it’s never impossible and with time, patience and familiarity with tactics and terrain, can produce effective fortifications that push the enemy back, or provide defensive covers to keep enemy incursions at bay. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test my mettle in tactical warfare online, as no matter how hard I tried or how long I long waited within the queues, I never found any lobbies that were inhabited.
Overall, Siegecraft Commander contains a lot of content, styles and modes for fans of tactical games; whether it be real-time, turn-based or tower defence. It’s an easily-accessible game, but also contains a complexity that is difficult to master. Saying that though, it provides an interesting challenge and a rewarding experience when you begin to learn the game’s mechanics and become more successful in your pursuits. The long-length of each skirmish entertains, even producing moments of exhilaration, or despair as you work to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, its lack of any online community, at least in my experience, was slightly concerning, but even if you fail to find a suitable lobby, the game still contains enough single-player content to last for weeks, even months. It’s by no means a perfect game, but then it’s not a bad one either and for what it’s worth, in terms of tactical gameplay and challenging scenarios, is a game that is a lot of fun; but only if you take the time to figure it out.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Siegecraft Commander Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
A challenging, but ultimately rewarding, real-time strategy/tower defence game that commands respect in order to craft a siege.