Tower defense games are an odd genre. They can be easy enough for the most casual of gamers, or hard enough to make gaming veterans want to pull their hair out. All of them have the same play style, with small differences that make each game unique.
Kingdom Rush by Ironhide Game Studio is not one of those hardcore tower defense games. With that being said, I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent playing Kingdom Rush. Strategy games have a way of forcing me to compete with myself just to finish the game.
Originally a free flash game, Kingdom Rush was also made available on Android and iOS devices and has recently been released on Steam with a polished PC version. I have not played the Android or iOS version, but the PC version is aesthetically pleasing and I don’t feel like I’m stuck paying for a crappy mobile-to-PC-port game.
The “campaign” part is very easy. I didn’t find a lot of challenge until the final level. I also didn’t find the story to be interesting and had no want to find out why things are happening. Once you finish the linear portion of the campaign, a handful of other areas open up. The non-linear part of the game has a decent amount of challenge to it and kept me playing for hours longer.
You can receive up to 3 stars on each level. Once you’ve achieved a three-star mastery, the heroic and iron challenges open up. PRO TIP: If you keep getting defeated, go back and do some of the heroic and iron challenges. You will receive a star for each one you complete and you can use the stars to completely upgrade your equipment.
I liked the extent of the building upgrades in Kingdom Rush. There are four different kinds of towers that can be upgraded four times. Once you reach the fourth upgrade, you have a choice of mastery towers and each mastery tower has it’s own abilities to upgrade. It keeps you interested and alert while not being too complicated.
You also unlock heroes as the game progresses. There is a decent variety from melee to ranged to magic-all complete with a couple of unique and uncontrollable abilities. Along with heroes, there are two upgrade-able spells available. One is a hailstorm of fireballs and the other drops two reinforcements wherever you choose on the map. The spells add a unique dynamic to the game and is a great last minute audible when you’re in a pinch.
I’m very impressed by the amount of time put into planning the enemies. There are different sets of enemies depending on which region you’re a part of and I feel like the developers did a wonderful job finding the correct balance for the game. I wasn’t so impressed by the bosses, however. It looked like the regular enemies were blown up into a huge pixellated version and put into random maps to piss everyone off.
In my opinion, Kingdom Rush is one of the best Tower Defense games I’ve ever played. It has a great mix of difficulty and options while keeping you focused on the game. At no point did I feel like I could turn away for a second while my towers cleared a wave-like I have with other tower defense games.