It’s interesting to see how the landscape of the castle-defense genre is shaping up as the iPhone continues to mature as a gaming platform. The way we see it, there are two schools of thought when it comes to executing these types of games. On one hand, there’s the casual-oriented tilt exemplified in titles like Knights Onrush and StickWars. The other emerging style that’s gaining steam is the more strategic and deeper type of game, one of which we’re going to get into in this review. Set in a period you’d see ripped straight out of a movie like Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven, Medieval aims to be the epic castle-defense game we’ve all been waiting for.
Medieval’s premise is as clichÃ© as it gets. It’s the classic tale of two empires (e.g. castles) separated by space and opportunity, with one aspiring empire looking to dominate the other. In this level-based game, your job is to murder the opposing army that wants to steal your sacred flag and turn your empire to rubble.
Smaller than Army Men.
The tools of destruction at your disposal are vast and deep. At the outset, you only have a puny crossbow to shoot your enemies with. By using a touch and drag mechanic, you can aim your arrows wherever you’d like. By killing the opposing troops, you earn gold to beef up your defenses with things like flaming arrows, flying boulders, and bombs, to name a few options. Each weapon has a reload period, so you’ll be forced to leverage your entire arsenal to keep the heat coming.
The enemy spits out troops and mechanical contraptions that specialize in different kinds of combat (e.g. archers, catapults, etc.), so living and dying depends on how quickly you can scale up your capabilities.
All of these mechanics should ensure one kick ass gaming experience, right? Well, it should, but the game is undermined by the flawed shooting mechanics. Because aiming is so sensitive and responsive, it’s quite easy to misfire and misjudge where to shoot your weapons. There isn’t any aim assist or visual indicator to help guide your shots, so we found it difficult to consistently hit the opposing army. On top of that, the A.I. never misses a shot on your castle, so it’s a bit unfair. We hear that a few more shooting options are being planned for a future update, so hopefully things get resolved to fix this near game-breaking issue.
Get off my lawn!
The visuals in Medieval have a lot of painstaking details in them. Levels feature unique environments with different climates, outdoor vistas, and great animations to breathe live into the scene in front of you. Considering that there are dozens of levels to grind through, your eyes will not get bored. Our only disappointment with the visuals is that the character sprites are so tiny. Due to the size of the troops, it’s hard to easily identify the various types of enemies coming at you. In addition, the small troops exacerbate our issue with the shooting mechanics.
With the right kind of updates, Medieval has an opportunity to be great. As it stands right now, the poor shooting mechanics overshadow everything that is right with this game. We’ll definitely keep our eyes open for updates to this promising title, but buyer beware, for now.