CastleStorm is fantastic — Probably the best Xbox Live Arcade game I’ve played in a long time. It’s the kind of game players dream up in their heads but never actually expect to see. Imagine Angry Birds, except the Pigs are now firing back at you. Actually there’s quite a lot more to it than that, but it serves as a general idea for how the game plays. The Devs said that they got the idea from games they used to play as kids where they would build up bases and try to knock each others down. As soon as I heard that I was instantly transported back to playing Weapons & Warriors with my brother, and the raining hail of tiny orange balls upon each others fortification. I can totally see what they were going for.
So anyway, in a basic match you are given a castle made out of different rooms and walls. It looks similar to the kind of structure you might see in a game like Angry Birds but it still has a strong castle feel to it. Your goal is to defeat your enemy by either capturing his flag or destroying his castle. The main thing you will be using to accomplish this is a fixed ballistae which can launch things like bolts, spike balls, bombs, rocks that split, sheep, etc. Your main ammunition refreshes fast while your more creative and destructive ammo have cooldowns. You will also need to train units to send at them if you want to capture there flag or just defend yourself from the waves being sent at you. There’s some pretty cool unit variety, too. Ranged characters like archers and axe throwers can help support you from a distance while anything from basic swordsmen, knights, and even stone golems can march towards the enemy castle. If that’s not enough, you can also cast spells to kill enemies, heal units, or even summon a special hero you take control over. You are give 5 slots each for Ammo, Units, and Magic so you will need to do some strategizing before battle. Also, ALL of these options can be upgraded with gold you earn to improve their effectiveness.
What I consider to be one of the cooler features is the ability to redesign and configure your castle. Put the unit rooms you want in there and maybe some additional stuff that adds passive bonuses like increased food production for units, army size, and ammo reload speed. Just make sure you defend these well because once they are destroyed during battle you will lose the bonus or ability to create that specific unit.
Along with straight up Skirmish or Survival modes (Which can be played multiplayer as well, Online and Local) there is a campaign mode which will unlock all of your units/spells/ammo over time. These are pretty interesting because they can be more than just “destroy your enemy” missions. In some you might need to win with only units, or without, or just defend against waves of ground forces. I won’t spoil some of the latter missions but you get to fight some pretty cool stuff. The campaign is pretty lengthy, too, offering a bunch of missions and side missions. It can be pretty hard to 5-Star some of them, especially since it requires playing on hard mode which disables your aiming guide-line. I thought they gave a good offering at this point already but then I unlocked a SECOND CAMPAIGN where I got to play as a different race, the Vikings, who have different ammo, unit, and magic abilities. I really wasn’t expecting that so it was a real thrill when it happened.
You can get a lot out of this game with all the content, modes, unlocks, upgrades, and multiplayer. I can’t wait to see what Zen Studios does with this in the future. Goblin or Undead factions? Yes, please!
Zen Studios was awesome enough to hook us up with an advanced copy of CastleStorm on the XBOX Live Arcade.