Heroes And Castles
Attack and defend. That's the basic premise behind Foursaken Media's Heroes and Castles, a new iPhone and iPad game that blends hack-and-slash with real-time strategy to great effect. It's a bit rough, but for $1.99, we doubt you'll find much to complain about as you lay waste to skeletons, orcs and goblins.
To start, you choose from one of three characters, each of which has a signature ability. The heroic knight is without question the most durable, while the Paladin makes units more powerful. The heavily armored Engineer, meanwhile, packs a slow-firing cannon, just in case you prefer to pick off baddies from a distance.
With this in mind, the goal is to protect the castle at all costs from the horde of creatures descending upon your location en masse, from skeleton archers to catapults. You're free to run around the battlefield solo, but doing so results in death. Instead, the idea is the unleash a variety of warriors upon your enemies and upgrade these heroic do-gooders over time, with a list that includes lowly peons, archers, pikemen, riflemen and catapults of your own. All of these guys cost gold to produce, so it's tantamount that you build a gold mine.
What ensues is a hefty dose of micro-management, as you not only lookout for number one, but also your easily killed cohorts. Meanwhile, bad guys that reach the castle walls have a nasty habit of knocking them down, forcing you to rebuild. It goes without saying that letting your opponents get too close is a bad idea.
Overall, both genres have been smartly integrated, and the game is enjoyable for the most part. The engine is capable of throwing numerous non-player characters on screen, and there's a fun Lord of the Rings vibe as you protect the homestead from invaders. The fact that you can boost the playable character with runes and level up through normal play helps the cause, considerably.
That said, the controls hold up quite well, with the usual virtual stick, dash/attack buttons. It's easy to swing/shoot and miss, but for the most part, you should have little trouble lining up targets.
At the same time, the act of swinging a blade and striking bone/flesh lacks the desired weight and impact. Ideally, we'd prefer to see heads pop off and bones fly all over the place. Instead, enemies simply keel over and melt into the floor. It's a minor issue, really.
As for co-op multiplayer, although we're 100 percent down with the concept, we've been unable to find anyone online, which could have something to do with the game's tech, popularity or a mixture of both. Not sure at this point.
As a solo affair, though, Heroes and Castles works surprisingly well. Having to constantly launch units and keep an eye on the castle becomes overwhelming, but it doesn't take long to get a handle on the game's intricacies, and with new modes coming in the near future, there's room for aggressive expansion. Might as well get in on the ground floor.
Review code provided by Foursaken Media.
What's Hot:Satisfying blend of hack-and-slash and real-time strategy, three playable characters, a variety of enemies and friendly units, numerous NPCs on screen at once.
What's Not:Tough to find other players online, hitting enemies lacks oomph.