STAFF REVIEW of Castle Invasion: Throne Out (Xbox One)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Castle Invasion: Throne Out Box art Bargain bin priced indie games always intrigue me. On one hand I know that for just a few bucks I’m not going to get some AAA experience, so I keep my expectations low. On the other hand, sometimes for just a few bucks you’ll find a decent game that you would have never given the time of day to otherwise. Developer Cat Trap Studios seems to have done the latter, making a tower defense-like game which has been done a million times before, but they have done it in a fun way with terrible puns and an addictive upgrade system across 50 levels, all for $5.

You play as the hero with no name, a simple man who just bought his own castle for himself. Unfortunately. the King demands you to turn it over, because reasons (no really, the reason is “non-descript”), so what do you do? Fight back of course!

You don’t take well to demands and decide to stand your ground and fight back against waves of the King’s army even though he threatens that you’ll be throne out (yes, get the pun now?). So, you pick up your bow and start shooting at every attacker that comes close to your wall. You’ll need to fend off hundreds of peasants, wizards, jesters, and even dangerous black knights.

Castle Invasion boasts 50 levels, which may seem like it’s not much at first, but the later stages become difficult quickly and will require the utmost precision to succeed. You can scroll the screen sideways to see the oncoming army that’s about to attack you, allowing you to strategize, but the later stages are so frantic that you’ll be doing everything you can to simply hold them off mere steps from your wall.

Completing a level will net you up to 3 stars based on if you completed the side objectives, which can vary from simply completing the level, finishing it under a certain amount of time, or not letting a specific enemy type attack your wall, among others. It’s an easy way to add some challenge rather than simply finishing the levels, and you’ll need a certain amount of stars to unlock some of the later achievements. Every tenth level pits you against one of the King’s bosses, ranging from a dragon, to a troll, a marksman, and more. These boss levels were unexpected but quite welcome for a diversion from the normal gameplay. You’ll even want to come back and redo these boss levels alter once you have upgraded your weapons, as there’s no way to complete these bonus objectives the first time through with your weak weapons.

You can expect to fight hordes of knights, jesters, executioners, ninja’s, moles, and more, each of which are charming in their own way, but don’t let that stop you from shooting them with your bow and arrow, crossbow, spear, or slingshot. Even though the enemies vary, you’re bunkered down atop your castle, so don’t expect a change of scenery at all.

The only slight variant of level change is the handful of night levels which has you defending at night time with flaming arrows instead of regular ones. The battlefield will go completely black if you don’t constantly shoot at the torches below, meaning you won’t be able to see where the enemies are coming from. Because of this reason I started to really dislike these night levels, as it’s difficult to change to any other weapon since you constantly have to be lighting the torches below as well as defend your castle against the waves of enemies.

Another way Castle Invasion tries to switch things up is the handful of time trial levels. In these levels more enemies than normal are thrown your way, but you’re in control of the speed of which they move (you move and shoot normally). What makes these challenging is that you need to finish them under a certain par time for the stars. So while finishing them isn’t difficult, doing so under a set time is where the challenge comes.

The first bit of the game is quite easy, allowing you to ease into the gameplay, but the difficulty will quickly spike, making it harder to progress. I actually couldn’t figure out a way to beat one of the levels as I kept getting swarmed without a way to defend myself properly, but then I figured out what I was doing wrong; I didn’t know about the upgrade system.

When you defeat an enemy they will drop coins, that when shot, will collect them for your hero. These coins can be spent in the store on weapon upgrades, allowing you to improve your weapons in many different ways. The game doesn’t tell you explicitly to go spend your coins, so I figured it out for myself.

While the upgrade system may be basic, it’s absolutely needed, even though you’re simply upgrading damage, range, speed, and other areas for each type, it’s competent and adds a little more complexity than I initially thought Castle Invasion would have. Even after upgrading my weapons, there was a point where I needed to go back and replay levels to grind for some more coins so that I could progress further, but nothing that took too much extra time.

It’s no secret that the tower defense games have been done to death, and while Castle Invasion won’t bring flocks back to the genre, it’s a fun little diversion even if it does have shallow gameplay. At first glance you’d probably mistake it for an old school Flash based game, and even though its visuals won’t excite you, the writing is very funny and full of terrible puns (the best kind of course). I didn’t run into any bugs during time with it, and even though you can finish it in a single sitting if you try, I still enjoyed my time with it. Castle Invasion is a fun little title to waste some time on when you need a break from the norm; and for $5 it won’t break the bank.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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