Originally released back in 2012, Castle Raid [$0.99] offered an interesting combination of castle defense and castle offense with a simplified RTS control scheme to tie it all together. Now, developer Arcticmill is back with Castle Raid 2 [$2.99], an iterative sequel that preserves the core gameplay while adding some much-needed depth. Challenging but fair, Castle Raid 2 offers all the right ingredients to be worth checking out.
For folks that didn’t have the opportunity to check out its predecessor, Castle Raid 2 offers an RTS experience where you collect resources, use them to purchase troops, and launch them against your opponent’s castle all while defending your own. You don’t actually control your troops; once you set them on their path they take care of the rest. Resources are collected by peasants that chop wood at forests littered across the battlefield (they also don’t attack, meaning they should be protected). Each side also has two towers on timers: a mage tower that acts as a defensive panic button and an artillery tower that requires some skill-based aiming. Overall, it’s a system that’s simple to control but offers a lot more depth than it appears.
For fans of the original, Castle Raid 2 doesn’t alter the actual gameplay too much and instead focuses on deepening the experience with new units, a leveling mechanic and a challenge mode that adds a lot supplemental objectives. The challenge mode boosts replayability while the other additions add some much needed options in term of playstyles. This is especially true with the leveling system, as completing maps (regardless if you win or not) award currency which is used to upgrade your troops. Another new addition are the nicely done cutscenes telling the new tale of war. While the cutscenes offer a new glimpse into the world of Castle Raid, the in-game visuals remain similar to the original Castle Raid and are very reminiscent of the games like Kingdom Rush.
Speaking of challenges, Castle Raid 2 is one of the tougher RTS titles that I’ve played this year. Even on the game’s ‘Casual’ difficulty you can expect maps to be a bit tough after the first few maps. I think it has to do with the fact that despite its RTS-nature, Castle Raid 2 almost plays like a puzzle with a map’s unit selection and opening moves going a long way towards predicting if you’ll actually win. Fall behind in resource gathering and odds are you’ll be engaged in a lengthy, but ultimately inevitable defeat. Thankfully, Castle Raid 2 awards currency regardless if you win or lose, allowing players to eventually earn enough to level up units and (hopefully) advance past tough levels. The addition of Everyplay support is another nice touch as players can easily look up winning replays for maps that might be too tough.
Same-device multiplayer is pretty rare for a mobile RTS but not only does Castle Raid 2 include it as an option, it also works pretty well. Players can choose any map and unit unlocked in single player, and engage in a battle that pretty much mirrors the single player matches. In fact, the only difference you really see is an additional column of buttons on the other side of the screen for your opponent's units. While the multiplayer controls were a bit cramped on an iPhone (but still playable) they worked excellently on the iPad. As for the actual multiplayer experience? It’s pretty fun and ripe for a decent amount of strategy even if you’re right next to your opponent. My only complaint is Castle Raid 2 really needs to add online multiplayer to complete the package.
With challenging gameplay complemented by some much-needed depth, Castle Raid 2 is a great sequel to a good original game. Sure, there’s still room for improvement in a few areas, but I still enjoyed everything it had to offer. Strategy fans looking for a tough little adventure shouldn’t miss this release.
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