Kingdom Rush Review

Kingdom Rush Review

Simply Magical.

Release Date
January 6, 2014
Ironhide Game Studio
Steam, iOS, Android

This review is for the Steam version of Kingdom Rush.

Kingdom Rush is one of those games that simply needs no introduction. Chances are if you are anything like me, you already own it on numerous mobile devices. When it released on the iOS platform, it received critical acclaim for its design and strategic depth. You’ll be happy hear that everything that made Kingdom Rush special then is still intact for it’s Steam release now.

Today is a first for the Kingdom Rush franchise, as it marks its worldwide Steam release. If you’re new to Kingdom Rush, it can be best described as a tower defence game with some RPG flare. You construct various types of towers that each play a unique role in fighting off invading forces that try to get past you on the stage. Each tower has unique strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll have to be clever when positioning them in order to maximize their potential. For instance, Archer Towers have excellent range and when used in conjunction with Barracks that spawn soldiers to slow the forward movement of enemies, do a ton of damage as enemies get blocked by the soldiers. There’s a total of four basic tower types (Archer, Mage, Barracks, and Artillery), with each type of tower evolving into one of two specializations later in the game.

Kingdom Rush Review - Artillery
Yes! Funnel into my choke-point of BOOM! Muahaha

Things get interesting as the campaign progresses. New enemies emerge and you’re forced to be smart about your towers and their placement, which is where Kingdom Rush really shines. The strategic component of the game is incredible, and tacticians will appreciate the thought required to ace each level. You’ll have to be mindful of the stage’s layout; Where are the choke points? Can you clog those choke points up with barracks and then shell the enemy with the artillery until they are nothing but dust? But what if they bring the air units? Will the archer towers hold up? You’ll then have to contend with various enemy and armor types. Archers will have a hard time penetrating armored foes; you’ll need Mage towers for that. But some enemies have a resistance to magic, so you can’t simply overload the map with Mage towers.   There’s no one way to beat any given stage, but good decision-making definitely increases your odds of success. The key is balance. Having a balanced attack of different towers positioned well around the map is key to success in Kingdom Rush.

Kingdom Rush Review - Boss
A balanced attack is key to surviving long enough to take the big boys down.

Although many reading this may be familiar with the game, you’ve never played it quite like this before. For starters, this isn’t a flash port of the original game, but rather a completely remastered PC version. All the art and textures are rendered wonderfully and looked fantastic at 1080p, Steam achievements have been added, and the game ran silky smooth on my rig. The game features the entire classic campaign with several mini-campaigns that add up to a total of 17 unique stages, with each stage having two additional challenge versions for those looking to master their skills. There’s a lot of game to play here, with the average playthrough probably taking in the range of 6-8 hours to complete. One thing that is important to note is that Kingdom Rush: Frontiers is not included in this release.

While its easy to love the artistically-colorful art style of Kingdom Rush, as I have been alluding to there’s a lot more to this game than meets the eye. While your tower choices and strategic placement are important, the rpg elements of the game also play a critical role in your success. As you beat stages, you are awarded up to 3 stars based on how many lives you have left. These stars are extremely important, as you invest them into various upgrades for your towers, abilities, and reinforcements. Depending on the stage, you will want your upgrades to coincide with your strategy. For instance, if you know you’ll need to use Archer towers alongside Artillery towers, you’ll want to invest in the upgrades to both of those towers to maximize their effectiveness. These upgrades add a very unique strategic element to the game that isn’t common in tower defence. Without these upgrades, many of the levels would be impossible. That brings me to one of my only gripes about the game; the difficulty. In the other versions of Kingdom Rush, you can select “Easy” as a difficulty setting that makes the game a little less of a challenge by making the waves easier and by giving you more resources. In the Steam version, the only way to make the game easier is to earn more stars, as investing them into upgrades allows you to gain that edge in difficult battles. That means that if you don’t do particularly good on earlier levels (earning only 1 or 2 stars), you might find yourself getting stomped later on and having to repeat earlier levels to get more stars. Furthermore, if you fail a stage on the last wave (usually because a boss kicks your ass), you have attempt the level again from the start. Again, thoughtful strategy prevents this from happening, but some may find the game unforgiving.

Kingdom Rush Review - Upgrades
It cannot be understated how important these are.

There is one more strategic component of the game that might help tip the battle into your favor however. Kingdom Rush’s heroes provide players with an opportunity to throw a curveball at the enemies crashing your towers. Each hero gives you a slightly different skillset, with some heroes providing solid ranged support while others helping block enemy troops so your towers can unload the punishment. The player moves the hero into position, but the hero attacks by themselves and uses their skills when appropriate. I really like the added depth that heroes give the game, although the micro-manager in me would have loved to have more direct control. Oh, and before I forget, all the heroes come with the game and are unlocked as you progress through the campaign.

Kingdom Rush Review - Heroes
Heroes! (and not DLC!)

Kingdom Rush is simply a ton of fun. Beyond its witty design and colorful charm lies a game of strategic depth and complexity. Its a game that I have enjoyed for years on countless devices, and its about time I add it to my Steam library as well.

Kingdom Rush Review
Review Summary
Kingdom Rush is one of those rare games that does so much right that its impossible not to love. Whether you are a fan of tower defence or not, this is a game that has simply takes the genre in new directions with fantastic results. If you don't already own Kingdom Rush, there's absolutely no reason to not pick this game up for the $10 price tag. If you are an existing fan, Ironhide Studios has given you everything you need to enjoy this wonderful game on Steam.
The Good
Incredible strategic depth.
Looks, sounds, and feels fantastic.
All existing DLC included.
The Bad
Can be a tad difficult if you fall behind on stars.

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