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Heroes and Castles

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Siege-tower defence

Product: Heroes and Castles | Developer: Foursaken Media | Format: iPad | Genre: Action, Strategy, Tower defence | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Heroes and Castles iPad, thumbnail 1
In war, as in sport, fighting effectively doesn't always mean fighting prettily.

Sometimes brute force or rudimentary tactics beat subtlety and ingenuity.

Heroes and Castles wages war with its own brand of semi-strategic mayhem, and while it's not always as slick or clever as you might like it to be there's no denying that it's pretty effective.

Thrust and parry

Take a quick look at one of Heroes and Castles's screenshots and it looks like a fairly generic, unpromising 3D action-RPG game.

While you lead a single fantasy hero out into the field of battle, though, hacking and slashing (or shooting, if you choose the dwarf) is only half of the experience.

Your movements are restricted to the field immediately in front of your castle, and you're charged with the simple task of holding back the hordes of enemy orcs, skeletons, and monsters looking to deliver their own Helms Deep moment.

While you can wreak a certain amount of carnage yourself, irrespective of which of the three heroes you choose, the key to victory is setting up a robust, flexible automated defence.

Field commander

Rather like a tower defence game, you need to respond to an ever-changing enemy threat by ploughing the spoils of war into new and better units.

IAP explanation
69p / 99c will get you 25 gems in Heroes and Castles, which is enough to level-up a number of your units and buildings.

It's a pretty generous amount, and the value increases as you spend more - all the way up to a somewhat excessive £13.99.

There's the impression that all but the most skilful will need to make use of IAPs at some point. But, if you're not afraid of a little hard graft, you'll get good value out of Heroes and Castles.
These range from infantry - pike men are excellent at dealing with armoured foes, while dwarven blunderbuss wielders are great for crowd control - to defensive towers. You can even replace those creaking wooden outer walls with tougher alternatives.

As with any tower defence game, there's a delicate balance at play here, and often you'll find yourself failing because you've plowed too many of your resources into a certain unit type, leaving a glaring weakness elsewhere.

But at least here there's the prospect of going and helping out yourself when the going gets tough, which becomes even more of a prospect as you improve your hero with new abilities and powers.

Fighting to a stand-still

And tough Heroes and Castles certainly gets. Even the most balanced defensive set-up won't keep enemies from bashing away at your walls, and you'll constantly be dashing around putting out metaphorical fires, or pausing the action to repair a wall from the battle menu.

Allow your opponents through your outer defences and they'll lay into your gold mines, or, even worse, your keep.

In fact, things can get a little too tough at times, and you'll have to quit out and plough some of your skill points and gems into boosting your units or your hero's capabilities. As you might have guessed, you can give yourself an advantage by purchasing more of these gems with IAPs, and you'll find it hard to resist spending money to gain that extra bit of breathing room.

There's also an entertaining co-op multiplayer mode, although the lack of communication and the need to issue orders on the fly stifles some of its tactical potential.

Ebb and flow

If we're being frank, Heroes and Castles isn't especially brilliant as either a third-person hack 'n' slasher or a strategy game.

The action is too wooden, the animation too rudimentary, and the controls too stiff in the first case, and the tactics too basic and your units too automated in the latter. The game's menus, too, are just plain ugly and unpleasant to navigate.

But spliced together, along with the game's frenetic pace and impressive sense of ebb and flow, Heroes and Castles somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts. An unorthodox and unsubtle warrior it may be, but it'll likely win over your affections all the same.

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Heroes and Castles
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 24 January 2013
Half-3D action game, half-strategic tower defence game, the rough-and-ready Heroes and Castles combines its elements well to create a tough and rewarding genre mash-up
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