CastleStorm - Free to Siege (Free) by ZEN Studios Ltd. is a mashup game that combines 2-D physics action (similar to Angry Birds slingshot style), tower defense, brawler, and a dash of simulation. It’s definitely an interesting mix, and there’s a lot going on at once, so you can be sure that this will keep you busy.
Personally, I’ve never played Castle Storm before, but it is available on many other platforms, including Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii U, and it will be coming to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 “soon.” It’s a paid game on these other platforms, but it was ported to iOS (and Android and the Amazon Kindle, if you own those devices) as a free game this week. I thought that this would be as good a time as any to give this series a try, but I was still a bit skeptical about the freemium part. To my surprise, the game is actually not that bad.
The graphics in this game are beautiful, and are what really drew me in to it in the first place. These are console-quality visuals on iOS, which is not a surprise, given the origins of the game. The levels are all quite detailed, from the gorgeous backgrounds to the action-packed battlefields you’ll be fighting in. The character models are all rendered well, and I found the animations throughout the game to be smooth and fluid — I experienced no lag on my iPhone 5s. The soundtrack by Waterflame is a delight to the ears, and there’s a lot of well-done voiceovers. The sound effects from battle and fallen foes is pretty entertaining, too.
The game features four different campaigns, and there is a varying number of battles in each (between 30–50), totaling up to 150 levels. You’ll need to go through them in linear order, of course. While there is usually a straight path to follow for levels, sometimes you’ll unlock a “side” level. These aren’t part of the main storyline, but they are fun to play and challenge yourself to. Plus, it’s another chance to earn more cash and rewards.
Each level will have a set of three objectives that you will want to try and complete. Doing so will get you more gold to spend on upgrades, and you can earn up to three stars on each stage, depending on how you do.
Now, the gameplay itself is the most interesting and challenging part of CastleStorm. The beginning will feature a tutorial, and I recommend not skipping this because it will explain everything you need to know if you’re a newcomer like I am. Battle can consist of three parts: projectile attacks, sending in troops, and you can even storm in as your main hero and fight enemies head-on. For the most part, all three battle elements are available to use, unless a level specifically tells you when you are equipping your skills that you can’t. You switch between these different battle phases at will by tapping on the appropriate button in the bottom right hand corner.
Projectiles will probably be the one you use the most. You start off with a basic arrow, but you’ll soon get morning stars, javelin bursts, and more. When you are in projectile mode, tap on the one you want to use, and then tap the screen where you want to target. The stronger projectiles will have a cooldown, of course, so once it’s used, you’ll need to wait for it to recharge, but you can still attack with the basic arrow in the meantime. You have unlimited ammo for projectile attacks, but the less shots you make with better accuracy, the better. You will face off with numerous moving targets, and sometimes you will need to destroy the enemy castle, Angry Birds style. There are even magical spells that you can use later on.
You can also send out your own army troops to do the dirty work for you. To summon troops, just switch over to that part with the button in the corner, and then select the troop you want. The units will have cooldowns as well, and you will also need to have the amount of energy (drumsticks) in order to summon them. The drumsticks will refill over time, so you should be able to keep a steady stream going if necessary. Stronger units will need more energy to summon, of course.
And finally, sometimes you just need to take matters into your own hands. For these times, you’ll want to switch to your hero and teleport him out to the field. This will bring up a virtual joystick in the bottom left, which allows you to control his movement. You can perform basic or special attacks with the buttons in the bottom right, as well as bring out your defensive move, such as a shield, to protect you from hits.
And if you’re a fan of simulation games, you will enjoy being able to build your own castle with various rooms you will unlock over time. The castle rooms will have special abilities to aid you in battle, so make sure to build your castle wisely.
With each successful battle, you will earn experience points and level up. Doing this will improve your character, and you will have access to more projectiles, troops, heroes, and even castle rooms, which can all be purchased with the gold coins and gems (premium currency) you earn. Your current items can also be upgraded to become more powerful.
I’m finding CastleStorm to be quite fun and challenging so far. This is definitely a game that I will be spending a bit of time with, and so far, I haven’t hit a paywall yet. Of course, some game items can only be purchased with the premium gem currency, but I doubt that it’s absolutely necessary to beat the game — where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? I love the graphics, the hybrid of different game types, and it’s pretty challenging to get three stars and get all objectives.
If you’re looking for a fun physics-based tower defense brawler, then make sure to pick up CastleStorm – Free to Siege and try it out for yourself. You can get it on the App Store as a universal download for free.