By: Jeff Cater
Siegecraft Commander by BLOWFISH Studios is an interesting little game. It’s something I certainly haven’t seen before; sort of a real-time strategy game that combines offense and defense in a unique way. Here you’re the captain of a treasure-seeking vessel full of subordinates, and the planet you wind up on has loads of treasure, but also a tribal force protecting said loot.
In order to obtain the goods you must construct towers of defense and unit production while contending with the confines of the environment, as each tower you place must have a clear line of sight from the last one in the form of a wall!
While the game is pretty easy to pick up and get going on, it always feels a tad weird. For starters, I fully recommend switching to inverted in the Options menu, as the default setting has you tilting the left stick away from your intended destination like a slingshot. Opting for inverted eliminates most of the misfires that you’d normally contend with, as it’s very difficult to grasp where a shot will end up while going against your instincts.
Highlighting a building and pressing “X” will open up a menu with options of auxiliary structures to build or abilities to use. Once you select a building or ability, you may aim with the left stick and fire it off with “X.” As noted, using the default control setup feels incredibly awkward, but it is a closer “experience” to the developer’s idea of using a slingshot device to launch your towers.
The core gameplay of launching towers and offensive weapons is pretty cool and unlike anything I’ve played before. You start out with a castle that’s able to shoot out several different types of buildings, such as outposts and ballistas, in an effort to either seize a position of the map or eliminate an enemy faction’s camp.
In order to do this, you must not only combine the unique abilities of each building, but also consider how you want to build up your strength. Will you opt to make more of a network of outposts and bombard your enemy from afar? Or would you rather construct a series of barracks to produce soldiers to march upon the enemy’s doorstep?
However you decide to tackle a scenario, you have to keep in mind that you cannot cross your own towers. See, when you place a tower, a wall connects the new one to the old. Trying to construct a tower in a perpendicular fashion will result not just an explosion but also a severe waste of your time.
While the visuals are decent enough, I did indeed yearn for more detail. You can zoom in and out using the right stick, and I noticed some peculiar things when I zoomed in to the max level: there is quite a bit of pop-in in the form of bushes and additional stones scattered across the level, but they’re absolutely miniscule and only barely noticeable at maximum zoom.
I was sure for a moment that I had crud on my screen until I realized it went away when I zoomed out. Even the slightest tap of the stick to zoom outward and they disappear, so I’m curious as to why they were included in the first place.
The color palette is nice, though, and the game is full of friendly rounded figures and stocky buildings. The soundtrack is superb and quite enjoyable, and it accompanies the humorous voiceovers very well.
There is a multiplayer mode that I was unfortunately not able to find a match in, but there are real-time and turn-based variants. As a huge fan of turn-based games I was pretty bummed that I was unable to match with anyone.
Siegecraft Commander is a pretty neat game, though it does get rather difficult early on. Not only is the concept new, but the AI is extremely aggressive and knows exactly where to build to be effective. Still, if you’re looking for a game that combines strategy and puzzles, Siegecraft Commander is a creative and interesting fusion of the two.