As a tower defence fan, it’s a no-brainer to say Kingdom Rush Origins is a winner. That would be a fair assumption, but given that the most recent review for Fantasy Tower Defense was a bit of a letdown, could this follow up to the much loved Kingdom Rush be any good?
You’d think that as a sequel, regardless of the ‘Origins’ element, the developers wouldn’t attempt to fix something that isn’t broken. Kingdom Rush was never broken, and a fantastic example of how to do a tower defence game well. If others are to emulate this sort of game on the Switch or mobile, use the original as a blueprint. However, while the fundamental gameplay remains by stopping the enemy from storming through your base, there are new units and structures introduced which are, quite frankly, awesome.
There’s a plot involved, but we’re going to skim over that and head straight to the fundamentals. Place towers on the available spaces on a map, kill the enemies and with each coin drop, upgrade or buy new towers. Unlike some weaker clones, the structures in this game differ significantly from one another and worth upgrading. Still, anyone who has played anything in the genre will be accustomed to the type of towers.
The basic setup is the hunter arbor (arrows), defender barracks (infantry), mystic dais (magic) and stone circles (essentially the cannons). As you progress through the campaign, the towers evolve into more advanced options that may focus on fire damage, teleporting enemies further back or shooting from a long-range and being awarded a critical hit. Aside from the four main towers, some levels will feature one-off buildings that you can’t build but unleash anything from Ewok clones through to fire-breathing dragons.
The units here are fundamentally the same as the former; only the upgrades are a little more appealing. We all have our favourite go-to units and mine were the infantry units that become tree guardians. They tower over most enemies and armed with spears; they can hit the ground and air units, making them pretty versatile. The only caveat being they have zero armour. As the story develops, you may encounter boss-like battles of seemingly invincible enemies that may silence your towers – another reason to invest in the infantry as their primary role is to create a bottleneck of sorts.
An area that makes Kingdom Rush Origins stand out is the hero units. You can call upon a hero who will remain with you throughout the stage. Of course, they can die, but they respawn after a brief cooldown. Their skills vary from being fast moving, magic-wielders to much slower powerhouses that fire explosive bunnies out of their chests. The selection is pretty good, and like the previous Kingdom Rush title, you can upgrade their stats ranging from health restoration through to the number of support units they can summon. Each time you finish a level and awarded with a total of three stars, you can upgrade the heroes and your abilities.
This tower skill tree comprises upgrades for the four towers ranging from a reduction in cost to build them, through to increased damage and eventually a bonus to their special attacks. There are two more perks available, they – improve lightning and reinforcements. These two skills are cooldown based – the former fires lighting anywhere on the map, later introducing wind to slow the units down. The second includes placing reinforcements anywhere on the map to help out. They start as a pair of peasants then upgrade to armoured units that can be pivotal in defending your army/slowing down the enemy.
While the game doesn’t feature any extra modes, there are upgrade options, an encyclopedia for getting familiar with the assets in the game, and an in-game achievements option which encourages repeat plays. Even if this didn’t exist, Kingdom Rush Origins will feature in repeat plays if you’re a fan of the genre and highly recommended.
The game isn’t entirely without its faults, or minor criticisms – the main one being the units are incredibly small, so it’s a little tricky to see all the detail on the screen. Some strategies that worked in previous stages don’t work across the board, and there are a handful of levels that are quite disruptive in that you have to build, upgrade then sell towers then quickly place new buildings for the next wave. This might be challenging for some, but the game has the advantage of multiple difficulty levels. While it might not be a guaranteed win of three stars on the casual setting, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ultimately fail in this mode as it’s quite forgiving. However, these games bring out the perfectionist in you, and if you want to maximise your potential for upgrades, you’re going to have to get perfects in each round.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kingdom Rush Origins Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Kingdom Rush Origins could have played it safe and introduced new maps, but the same content. Instead, this game features all-new units and structures, with the odd, unique design exclusive to a stage. Plenty of fun, more than enough replay value – highly recommended.
- Lots of new units and structures.
- Unique maps, each with their quirks.
- Plenty of replay value.
- May require more than the odd repeat play to get a perfect stage.
- A little hard to see everything on-screen at times.