Castlestorm – Review (WiiU)

More a Castle Breeze

Castlestorm is a 2D Tower destruction/RTS/Beat-em up game with resource management and RPG elements. You might think that this is too many genres to cram into a single game, but does Castlestorm pull it off? Well, not really, no.

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Admittedly, Castlestorm is mechanically sound, but then so might be a robo-puppy made from human teeth. It’d be functional but you wouldn’t want it in your house. Comparisons to Crush The Castle can be drawn almost instantly.You, the brave knights, fire different types of projectiles into an incredibly flimsy opposing castle built by Vikings who have apparently never heard of mortar. Meanwhile the Vikings return the assault on your equally as fragile abode. Battles rage on the ground as well as in the air, as countless ground troops are sent to bash menacingly on your gates. If you are unobservant or inept enough to let them through they will steal your flag or attempt to beat your castle to death. You can summon troops of your own to hold them off but it’s much easier to just shoot them with the ballista. You will still need troops to carry flags and take some of the strain off of you while you tend to more important things like watering your dog or feeding your petunias.

When things get tough or you get bored you can summon the hero into the heat of battle. This is where the beat-em up aspect comes to life. As the hero you can jump, hit with your sword, block, shoot and wipe out hordes of enemies on your own. This part is actually quite fun but within thirty seconds you are spirited back to your ballista to wait for what feels like an eternity for the cooldown to, well, cool down.

All of these separate aspects have proven themselves successful on their own but in Castlestorm they are spread too thin, you only get the most basic, bare-boned example of each.

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When you take control of the hero you can use the Wii U gamepad to control everything in the game. This is fortunate as otherwise aiming the ballista is about as easy as beating down a stone castle with a sword; apparently it can be done but we wouldn’t like to try it. All of the commands have handy little buttons on the screen and you just tap where you want to shoot. This makes the things more convenient but there’s very little catharsis to be had from tapping a man till he dies.

Castlestorm does redeem itself a little with its visuals, soundtrack and story. The game starts off with a stylish poem telling of an ancient war between the kingdom of knights and vicious Vikings of the north. The war raged until tears from a goddess formed two powerful crystals. The two warring kings each took one as his own and the war ended for many years; because of the power contained within the crystals neither king died in this time. Of course the peace could not last and one of the crystals was stolen. This reignites the war and thus begins the game.

The visuals are cartoony and the character design is not unlike that in World Of Warcraft with its large proportions and highly exaggerated features. This gives each individual a very distinct and characterised look. Its not only the characters physical features that are exaggerated but personalities too which, along with some pretty good voice acting creates some humourous and likeable characters. The main character in particular is quite entertaining in a childish, arrogant way. The soundtrack is not bad either. The main theme is definitely catchy enough to get stuck in your head while the in-game music manages to lend itself to the atmosphere without being obtrusive.

There is an ancient Japanese proverb that states “a man who chases two hares will catch none.” Castlestorm tried to catch way more than two hares and indeed failed to achieve even a fraction of it’s goal. It is a shame because it feels like a lot of passion and good ideas were present in the making of the game but in the end it is the final result that matters. In this case, the game has ended up like the Frankenstein’s monster of games; a mish-mash of genres and poorly executed ideas.that is nowhere near as entertaining as it should have been.

  • Matthew Hardy

    I have this game on PC and I love it. I don’t particularly care for the “hero beat-em up” parts but slinging harpoons into some neck-beard’s face and watching him topple backward is super satisfying. And the aesthetic is fantastic.

    • ryanemm

      I can’t say I much cared for it to be honest. I found it to be pretty bland. A jack of all trades; master of none. I have to agree with Shanice on this one.