Archives by Day

April 2021

CastleStorm II

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Developer: Zen Studios
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2020


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'CastleStorm II'

by Cody Medellin on June 18, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

CastleStorm II is a castle-bashing, tower defense, and hack-n-slash game set in a new randomly generated world map that adds a considerable new focus on strategic conquest.

For most sequels, being as good as the original is usually the top priority, and bringing fixes to the original formula is always welcome. The safe approach works well, but being different is more exciting for both players and critics. The risk of failure is much higher, and there are those who lament the changes to something that worked fine, but pulling off something new has the chance of breathing some life into a series. The recognizable name increases the exposure more so than if it were a new IP. That's the approach taken with CastleStorm II, and while it is too early to tell if the new approach has paid off, what we've seen thus far has left us intrigued.

The press preview build contained a snippet of the campaign mode, which consisted of a few fights against small mobs that culminate into a siege that's reminiscent of the first game's varied skirmishes. The difference is that you aren't immediately thrust into a battle to learn the ropes. Instead, your first screen is a hexagonal map with your realm defender. You have action points to do things, like move to new hexes, build settlements, or train your army. Moving into an enemy space initiates battles, and ending your turn causes other enemy units to move and gives you resources so you can get ready for your next phase.

In short, CastleStorm II is now a strategy game.

The short preview build doesn't make it clear whether the change to the strategy genre makes everything better. From the outset, we can see that there's going to be an element of troop management as far as keeping the body count up and having them perform special tasks to power up. The presence of commanders also might make a difference as far as the starting troop power level, but that's all we can glean from it. At the moment, the presence of these strategy elements might make the game a slower burn than before, since you won't be going from battle to battle. We'll need more time on a larger build to determine whether that's an improvement.

When you get into combat, whether it's against regular enemies or their castles, the game reverts to its traditional style, with you firing a ballista from afar while sending troops to do some fighting or occasionally engage in hand-to-hand combat against enemies. Compared to the first game, there are loads of changes that make the combat much more appealing. For starters, there's an actual crosshair instead of a faint arc to your ballista shots, so they can be more precise. Troop deployment is still limited in that you need the resources to deploy one, and the price is dependent on the troop type, but you can now deploy as many as you want without waiting for one to die before another soldier can take their place. When fighting against another castle, you can disable the enemy ballista instead of using your hero to protect your flag bearer. Speaking of which, you now have the ability to possess any of your troops on the field instead of using your hero when you want to get into the trenches and fight. With each soldier type possessing different weapons and healing abilities, this makes combat a much more enriching experience than before.

As for presentation, there's a good mix. In battle, the graphics are gorgeous, since the art style from the first game is more pronounced. Some blur used in the background for depth of field, while the character models for the troops animate nicely. The level of detail also transfers over to the world map, while the cut scenes are in a visual novel style, so they look better than the in-game stuff from the first game. Sound-wise, the music and sound effects are good, but in our preview build, the voices were limited to vocal snippets in battle. It works there, but it makes the cut scenes rather jarring.

The combat has certainly improved over the original title, but for now, the rest of CastleStorm II's modes remain a mystery. This sequel introduces a strategy focus, so it's worth keeping an eye on this title to see how it evolves as it approaches its launch date.

More articles about CastleStorm II
blog comments powered by Disqus