The open barren desert battlegrounds of the first two titles are replaced by the lush backdrop of forest and jungle terrain in Kingdom Rush Origins.
The third instalment of the hugely popular tower defence series arrives on Switch this week,and what quickly becomes apparent.Is that sometimes taking one small step back,can be a huge step forward!
In this prequel story,you command an eleven army against the ferocious gnoll tribesmen at a time when the land was occupied by mystic sorcerers,mages and druids and the weaponry forged from wood and stone.
Between battles,the story is told and depicted through comic book cutscenes and explains the events before the evil Vez’nan threatened the kingdom with the gem of power.
For the basic description of tower defence and the principle towers in the game. The review of Kingdom Rush on this site is best read if you are new to games of this genre.
For this title,the campaign battles follow the same basic strategy.Place towers,defeat enemies,upgrade with coin earned,defeat all waves,upgrade hero/tower/troop abilties on main screen.
With Origins though,there are some changes made here that differ from the previous two titles before it.
On each battle map,the standard two rechargeable abilties have now been extended to three!
The fireball ability is now a lightning attack that fries groups of enemies anywhere you place it. The mercenaries button is more or less the same and highly useful in keeping advancing enemies at bay and the final ability introduced is now hero power.
As stated in the other review. You can choose up to 16 heroes to aid you once unlocked,with each hero having unique abilties that can be upgraded in the main screen and an hero power that can be unleashed in battle with sometimes devastating results.
The standard towers have also had a slight change here,with the mortar cannon now a stone cannon,that can be upgraded to a stone block propelling catapault and on further campaign battles.A large tree wielding an hammer to bash passing enemies, complete with fire attacks!
Graphically,the often primitive surroundings of flora and fauna,are bright,colourful and fresh. The pauses you sometimes experience at the pace in which some battles pan out,allows you to see the finer details away from the main conflict on the country paths.
A deer sneaking about in the undergrowth or a builder chiselling away on a stone circle.There’s periods of reflection mixed with periods of apprehension. Nesting eagles can get angry and fly across the map and temporarily disable your towers. Placements around a lake can disturb large serpents who will also disrupt your tower placements,whilst baby dragons can be summoned to assist with a reduction in tower stun time.
The unpredictable aspect of it all is a welcoming addition. Environments working in your favour as blooming path side poisonous plants can be burst with a screen press to temporarily disable passing gnoll and existing buildings can be upgraded as it’s inhabitants help and assist you in the thick of heavy battle.
Sound wise,the campaign is mixed with a standard battle musical score and each conflict is mixed with the sound of weapon clashing and soldier war cries,with the sound of death screams bringing a humorous tone to most players and forcing a wry grin.
As with the other titles,the performance is flawless even in severely crowded and intense battles with no slowdown experienced at all as masses of soldiers clash,arrows fly and powers are unleashed.
The gameplay is in itself,top notch. The developers have added plenty of deviation in each battle to stop stagnancy setting in by often changing the enemies game plan.
Areas often blocked by hedges,can suddenly open to reveal another path of enemy advancement. Often requiring a quick change of tactics or even tower replacement. A wave of enemies defeated can sometimes reveal the emergence of a boss character,changing the attack patterns with creature summons or temporarily blocking towers with magic attacks,as each confrontation requires quick thinking and quick measures,to take them out!
In summary,there’s elements in this Switch version that differ once again from the mobile version,both good and not so good. The soldier sprites on the Switch,take a hit in terms of size but there’s no touchscreen scrolling on the battlefield as you do with the mobile game.
The heroes can be fully unlocked through game progression and not paid for and yet the omission of the gem shop from the mobile versions tends to put each switch version at a slightly higher difficulty in terms of general gameplay,with no gem shop items to use,feeling a bit of a loss here.
Overall though,there’s plenty to recommend this Switch version,with Origins running very close to its mobile counterpart.
It may look smaller and the pacing slower,but compared to the Rush,Frontiers versions before it,There’s clear evidence of developers Ironhide improving the format and creating a title with tweaks,new towers,enemies and abilities and successfully applying to a game that’s just generally and more importantly..more fun !
Thanks to Ironhide Game Studios for the code.