We've been watching Foursaken Media's Heroes and Castles [$1.99] ever since we got wind of its existence shortly after the release of N.Y. Zombies 2 [$0.99]. Departing from its comfort zone, Heroes is certainly its most ambitious title by combining both third-person action gameplay with castle defense and resource management. That sort of combo on iOS would be intriguing on its own, but Heroes and Castles also does an excellent job implementing it, making it another winner for the developer.

Simply put, Heroes and Castles is a game of third-person combat and castle/tower defense. Players control one of three heroes (each with their own attacks and moves) against a horde of undead looking to destroy your keep. As you play, you continually earn gold, which can be used to purchase buildings and recruit armies. Units come in  various types, such as the archer which stays on your wall shooting from afar, the pikeman which has piercing damage or the peasant which are cheap but plentiful. Meanwhile, buildings range from essentials such as the gold mine (which increases your rate of gold accumulation) to arrow towers and ballistas (which target enemies) to even support structures which improve your units.

The undead horde also comes attacking with a wide variety of enemies. While enemies and tactics change from mission to mission, the end result is always the same: take out the undead before they destroy your keep or kill you. You'll have to utilize your heroes attacking (and support) skills directly while recruiting additional units and building and maintaining keep structures.

One of the things I enjoy about Heroes is the simple fact that there's always something to do. Whether it's monitoring resources, building structures, hiring (and defending) recruits, or simply going on the offensive, Heroes does a good job keeping you busy multitasking. It's important to note that it is imperative that you keep tabs on all these facets as well; players that focus solely on one-on-one combat or castle building are going to have a hard time.

Thankfully, the tools available in Heroes and Castles do a decent job allowing players sufficient access to manage the multitasking directive. Quick menus allow you easy access to all buildings and recruits. In addition, there are plenty of status bars to monitor hero health, keep integrity and wall strength. It would have been nice to squeeze some sort of mini-map on the screen, but the game feels cramped enough with what it does have (particularly on the iPhone).

While Heroes certainly keeps you busy in the short-term, it also offers a wealth of hero stats, traits and upgrades that also keep players focused on the long-term. While playing out missions, heroes earn experience towards level-ups, which bestow points that can be spent on attribute increases and traits (each hero gets three active and three passive traits). As expected, traits vary widely between heroes and range from aura buffs to powerful attacks to even random spawning of powerful recruits.

Meanwhile, completing a mission for the first time with a hero earns crystals which can be used to upgrade both your buildings and units, with each upgrade increasing various stats. In addition, players can randomly earn runes, which can bestow random stat increases (and can also be created with crystals). When you take into account all the available upgrades, traits, stat increases and possible runes, Heroes becomes one of the deeper games around.

As if the sheer depth in terms of gameplay and upgrades wasn't enough, Heroes and Castles ups the ante with the inclusion of Co-op mode. Players can team up and take on the hordes of undead with different strategies and techniques than what would typically be available going solo. In addition, co-op mode makes it easier to acquire rare runes, thus providing an incentive to try it. While I had some trouble actually completing long-term co-op matches, I still found it fun nonetheless.

There's a lot to love about Heroes and Castles, but a few nagging issues keep it from the top echelon of enjoyment. While the game's secondary controls for building and recruiting work well enough, the actual hero controls can be improved as movement can be stiff, and hit detection is a little imprecise. Visually, Heroes doesn't look quite as nice as, say, N.Y. Zombies 2, but at least it plays with a smooth framerate. In addition, while I welcome the challenge inherent in Heroes, it does encourage the purchase of additional crystals to give yourself an advantage on some of the harder missions.

Still, these issues are minor in the great scheme of things. Foursaken's Heroes and Castles does a great job of not only successfully melding third-person combat with tower/castle defense, but also creating a game with a great deal of replaybility via its heroes, upgrade system and online multiplay. Checking out the game's menus reveal the developer's desire to add new single and multiplayer modes, which I hope indicates a commitment to improving an already great game that is receiving a lot of attention in our forums.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • http://twitter.com/kaZangy Kevin Zhang

    Heroes and Castles is a really fantastic game. It's definitely a 5 star game in my opinion but I respect TA's rating of it. If you're thinking about getting it, definitely go for it!

    • toxiccheese

      4.5 stars wasn't good enough? :)

      • slikaroo

        Nope. Definitely 5 stars

  • http://twitter.com/SamF15h Sam Pepper

    Um, heroes and castles graphics are way better then n.y. Zombies 2.

  • Amenbrother

    Awesome game indeed!

  • bigred447uk

    Game of the year so far - hands down.

    I dare any dev to improve on this ! Lol

  • JBRUU

    Well deserved review. The game deserves all the praise it can get. Rock on Foursaken!

  • Ted

    best game ever!!! been playing non stop. Creators are very helpful and also, the new update will make the game a def 5 star.. Even with the few bugs its a five star for me.. Finally i have a game that i can play non stop..

  • Retero

    Great game. Love the fact that it has co-op and can't wait for versus as well.

  • McCREE

    Implying that this game encourages the purchase of IAP is irresponsible at best. Levels in this game can be easily completed if you apply the right strategy to the given situation. It won't matter how many crystals you buy if your strategy is flawed, and furthermore, if you utilize the proper strategy, you could complete most levels without upgrading anything but your hero, which can only be done through in-game XP and not real money. That being said, the game is absurdly generous with crystals, so long as you use them properly and not waste them crafting. Insinuating that the IAP in this game is necessary is going to turn a lot of people away from what could easily be GOTY material. I'm the first person to speak out against IAP...well, maybe not the first, but I don't like them. I don't buy games where they are necessary. I promise, they are not necessary. Take your time, get good at the game and develop a strategy for each problem you come across and you'll be rewarded with the best gaming experience I can remember on iOS.

    • http://pinoyteens.net/ PinoyTeens.Net

      Well said, I never even felt the need to purchase Crystals, or have they been shoved in my face even the slightest unlike in many other "premium" games even.

  • Boobi

    It's a Forsaken product give it moment and it will be free, IAP may not be absolutely necessary if you do to craft, but your strategy then has to be almost flawless.

    • JBRUU

      You obviously haven't played the game.

      • xStatiCa

        The IAP is a perfect balance in this game. I am about to complete the campaign with the engineer hero. You can gain the crystals by playing single player or coop multiplayer. The only reason I might buy crystals is just to support this game to help make sure they have money to do more games like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adamconnell Adam Connell

    if this isn't a 5 star game i don't know what is....

  • http://twitter.com/dtstro Stro

    People are acting like 4.5 Stars is bad out of 5? O.o

    • Bischi777

      In this case, yes :-)

  • Phil_Lapineau

    How similar is this to Orcs Must Die?

    • Ted

      Its way better!!! that all i can say.

  • Legendary_Slayer

    4.5 is a good rating and all, but Heroes and Castles deserves 5 if any game does. And IAP is optional. Even if you do waste gems crating, you can get more by replaying past campaign levels, endless mode, and co-op( the latter two also yield legendary runes on a fair basis if you get far).

  • metalmandave83

    This looks like a fun game. Definitely trying this out! Great review!

  • HooblaDGN

    4.5 is better than appropriate, the game has some bad difficulty spikes and the character controls are definitely too stiff. On top of that, it has major performance problems on my iPhone 4. I give it a 3 after playing through about 2/3 of the campaign. Love parts of it and it's a great concept, but there are big problems.

    • McCREE

      Yeah, level 19 is tough. I'd imagine that's where most people will quit. If you're having a difficult time developing a strategy, stop in the forum thread. Lots of helpful advice.

  • DocWolf

    I just want to add, as a person who really despises the tower defense genre, this game completely surprised me.

    This game puts you in the driver's seat as lord AND defender. You're the ultimate badass on the battlefield and the hero of your troops. It raises the intellectual bar of tower defense because, if you play like I play, the tower defense strategy is the accompaniment to great first person melee or ranged play.

    I can't play too many "chapters" at once because the game is overstimulating to my old-person brain, but I love this game in small doses and keep coming back to it.

    Furthermore, let me say that the gameplay is in very nice 5-7 minute chunks. Great to pick up and put down as my wife, say, goes to make tea while watching TV.

    Love it. Get it. You won't be sorry.

  • jt23738

    This game is similar to Dillon's Rolling Western on the 3ds , I'll check this out

  • kaibosh

    This game deserved 5 stars, period. There should only be a dozen or so 5 star games in a given year. Yes, this game is that good. These are the best 3rd person controls I have ever seen on a touchscreen. That is just icing on the cake, the game would be worth playing with oven mitts on.

    I don't think the guys played the game much to be honest, mostly from the comment about the IAP. There are very few games as friendly as this one for IAP, and most people will be buying crystals to help the devs, not to cheat. Yes, the game is that good. You also can't 'buy' your character, which means you earn every single XP point for what really matters.

    If these guys don't start cranking out a few solid DLC type add-ons for this game (new characters, monsters, castle, etc) there will be a hostage situation I'm afraid...

  • CrowzNarbin

    Great game would be fun if you can have more then 2 player co op it's so hard with me being at a low level

  • MeanDinosaur

    So I'm new to messing with cloud saving. I've been playing this during breaks at work and was hoping to transfer my progress to my iPad while at home. I noticed that I didn't have cloud documents and data turned on, so I did that. I really haven't used my iCloud at all, so can anyone give me a tip?

    • MeanDinosaur

      Never mind. It just sync'd after I posted. Except it sync'd the blank iPad data, bleh.

  • Rocksteady777

    Does it run on the iPod touch 4g? Recent games seem not able to, even though it will say in requirements (cough Ravensword)
    Edit: But really, does it?

Heroes and Castles Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4.5