Two sides with unclear and often hilariously questionable motives and leaders? Battle tactics regularly involving slow moving soldiers followed by ballistic weapons that easily cause friendly kills? NOT set in WW1 France? Well, it must be Castle Storm!

CastleStorm is a recently released tower defence game developed by Zen Studios, most known for their Pinball games. One may be surprised then that this new release comes with a beautifully designed cartoon medieval world with a colourful cast of characters, along with spiffingly fun gameplay.

Through it all, the sheer wackiness of the game’s design will leave you laughing, even after you’ve been skewered by a friend’s stray spear.

The game follows the basic tower defence formula: you play as either the ‘Kingdom’ or the ‘Vikings’, with each boasting its own arsenal to be aimed at whoever you didn’t pick. Whilst one side has courageous knights and majestic gryphons, the other has burly warriors and fierce dragons. Variety and experimentation is key here, particularly with your castles, which are custom built throughout the game. By building rooms providing different troops and bonuses, you optimise whatever strategy you choose, whether it by offence, defence, or just blatting away. A big part of gameplay is levelling up these elements as you progress, and a lot of the time you’ll find yourself replaying older levels to for the sake of earning gold to increase your might.

A defining part of your arsenal is magic, particularly the ‘Hero’ spell. With it you can take to the field as one of your faction’s heroes for some brief hack n’ slash fun. Other summoning spells can protect your castles with a barrier of light, or skewer your enemies on magic swords. My favourite has to be the Viking ‘ghost army’, which rushes across the screen into your enemies in a blood curdling tribute to Return of the King.

All of this comes together extremely well through fluid controls, and a Campaign mode that introduces new features gradually. You follow the adventures of a knight of the Kingdom faction, Sir Gareth, as he leads his armies against invading Vikings. Though a simple formula, there are some interesting twists and turns through this consistently beautiful world. Throughout your adventure you will also encounter new classes and soldiers through cartoonish cutscenes, which are also used to introduce the integral element of challenges. These set goals and limitations can help you accumulate gold and stars for the ever present prize of achievements.

Just a few levels in you will have everything down, from the acts of aiming to those of unleashing dire wolf hordes, and the sheer variety of weaponry, troops, magic, and strategy available does well in preventing the tower defence formula from getting too repetitive. I can confirm that this translates extremely well into the multiplayer modes which range from battle to co-op. Through it all, the sheer wackiness of the game’s design will leave you laughing, even after you’ve been skewered by a friend’s stray spear.

One issue is, strangely enough, its lack of choice. Though the two factions obviously have a lot to offer, there are still only two of them, and the game’s backstory seems to go out of its way to establish that there are only two kingdoms in the game’s world. The DLC released so far expands on the existing factions instead of adding any new ones. Although the game’s design is enjoyable, another issue is that sometimes the characters, jokes, and references simply fall flat, which is a shame as there’s enough that’s good here to have omitted these flaws without anyone noticing.

Despite this, I finished CastleStorm with a smile on my face. Any issues I can point out may seem like nit-picking to others, because the game overall remains exciting and funny enough to keep the player interested. If you’ve a PS3 or a PS Vita, and a few quid to spare, you really can’t go wrong with this.






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