The Kingdom Rush [Free / Free (HD)] series has been one of the most popular tower defense franchises out there, and it's thanks in part to its introduction of action and RTS elements with the summonable reinforcements, and the hero units that can be sent across the battlefield to help take care of any threats. It gives this genre a fresh feel, and not just about sitting back and watching towers annihilate enemy creeps. Now Ironhide Games continues the franchise with Kingdom Rush Origins [$2.99 / $4.99 (HD)], a game that iterates on the formula that previous entries established. It's still a solid game, but it's pretty clear at this point that it's a series just for fans of it, and I failed to find any reason for newcomers to particularly jump in to this entry in particular.

Kingdom Rush Origins 2

The game's elements will feel largely familiar to Kingdom Rush veterans, as many of the unit types follow a similar structure as they did before, with archers, stone-throwers replacing bombers, magicians, and the infantry units serving as the towers to fend off enemies. There are a number of new enemies, different upgrades to play with, new special hero attacks to play with, and all sorts of the little tweaks and changes that series veterans will likely point out. There are a number of path designs across the game's two-dozen-plus levels – pay attention to where the banners are to see where the enemies are marching toward!

Kingdom Rush Origins 4

The production values are maxed out, to be sure. This game has spectacular detail, color, and animation. The levels are teeming with animated elements all over the place, including little random things that can be tapped in the levels. Some of them just do things like play music or trigger animations, but others can affect battle, though those are more obvious. The visuals are a bit small on the iPad mini 2's Retina display, and I understand the lack of zoom functionality, but it can be hard to tell where hero units are in the heat of battle when there's hundreds of units are on screen at once.

Kingdom Rush Origins 6

Unfortunately, Kingdom Rush Origins' pacing is a real killer. Back when I reviewed Crystal Siege HD [$2.99], I noted that game lacked fast-forwarding and felt a bit slow. Well, I forgot that Kingdom Rush has always eschewed fast-forwarding, and the missions in Origins feel particularly lengthy, particularly when there's no ability to move the action along. The game feels plodding at times, and missions contain ever-increasing numbers of waves. It's a game that winds up feeling like a chore at times. Also, that game really pushes forward the usage of hero units in tower defense, where it feels a lot more trivial here.

Kingdom Rush Origins 1

Also a chore? The game has issues launching properly on iOS 8.1 – it would frequently launch to a black screen on the iPad Mini 2, and I see the same issue with Kingdom Rush Frontiers [$1.99 / $3.99 (HD)] on my iPhone 6 Plus.

I take issue with some of the in-app purchases. Now, I totally understand that hey, it's hard to make money on the App Store, and I have no qualms with the game's price. And if it's fair, I can live with paid games having in-app purchases. But I don't know, having a number of heroes that can only be bought with in-app purchases, and having an extra-powerful $6.99 hero in what is a $4.99 game on iPad feels icky to me. This is especially so when the game isn't universal, so if you buy a character and want to play on your iPhone after playing on iPad, you would have to buy again.

Kingdom Rush Origins 5

This criticism is possibly unfair considering that previous games have done similar things, and Crystal Siege has in-app purchases to buy exclusive items, but perhaps it's that this game puts them out in front of the player every time they select a hero. It's a combination of factors. Plus, the Android versions are $2.99 for tablet-compatible versions. It's 2014, Rovio stopped doing iPhone/iPad splits a while ago, the HD moniker doesn't mean anything any more since the iPhone is actually HD now, let's just make everything universal. At least there's iCloud support for saves.

Really, I'm just going to admit that Kingdom Rush Origins is not the ideal kind of game for me. I like my tower defense a bit faster, I like getting into more detail, and I perhaps like my in-app purchases a bit more subtly-placed! I realize that now. I imagine that fans of the series will love this one, and they can flame me all they want. I understand, but I hope they understand why I'm not all that keen on this one. For the person who wants to get into the series, this isn't a bad entry point, and you probably ought to play one of these games for the cultural awareness. And hey, $2.99/$4.99 aren't inordinately high prices in the grand scheme of things, so you can say you're supporting premium game prices. But if you're new to the series, and not even sure that you like tower defense, I'd suggest jumping into an earlier entry first – you can get Frontiers for free on iPhone through IGN right now, and there's the myriad sales that pop up, as well, for the series. And I think Origins will play better if you're acquainted with the series and wind up wanting more, versus just jumping in for the first time. This one's for fans of the game already, which may be why $6.99 character IAP in a paid game is available, because people care enough to shell out for it. I guess I can't really fault that, even if I'm not entirely comfortable with it.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Based Xatu

    Very accurate review. This has to be my least favorite of the 3. Frontiers introduced heroes that you can level, and the areas you visit feel different. Same hoes for the first game. Even the towers on the first two are interesting, but ob this game everything feels dull: The heroes, the towers, the maps, the bosses, and most of the upgrades. It feels like they ran out of ideas. Good game though, don't regret buying at all.

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Just for fans, totally right!

  • Thoma Daneau

    It's true that last levels feel like a chore to do. Also, I need to have 20 minutes free to play a level, which is a lot.

    • PoloBaquerizoH

      For a fan of the art and gameplay of this series levels being longer is just better, I would hate KR if I could finish levels on 10 min, but with gamers just being used to casuals F2p games , I understand why

      • Sierrajeff

        It'd be alright if you could save your progress and come back. I've been playing Kingdom Rush since flash games years ago, so I love it, but - if I have just 5 or 10 minutes to play, I should be able to pause and come back to where I left off.

  • buktush

    Game was ok at best. It wasnt as relaxed and strategic as before, it was way more engaging. Which i feel is not the tower defense gamers desire. Every map had more than one exit which is pretty annoying and creates a very cerebral game. I may be alone in this but half the fun of a defense game is being able to achieve total supremacy by correct planning. This game has you chasing after every enemy every wave. Too stressful to be a true defense game.

  • ste86uk

    I think the review is a bit harsh, I like the KR games and they have also said endless mode is on its way which I'm looking forward to. More of the same kind of thing with extra touches and tweaks isn't a bad thing for me.

    Also I hope those screenshots aren't your gameplay!

  • j.e3diu

    I completely agree.

  • Nergal

    Wow, I got so flamed so hard on this site for criticizing the almighty kingdom rush frontiers, which was rated 5 stars. And now here we have the same game basically rated 3 stars and getting hate. Ppl are finally waking up and seeing this franchise for what it is


      The veil has been pulled back on the ugly conspiracy that is Kingdom Rush and the people are finally seeing the truth! Alas, the populace has awoken, but is it too late? Though I, someone who does not care for this game, have been crying out against the series' criminal actions, now, as the tide turns and some people feel this sequel is too similar, has too much damage been done for there to be repair? Vie! Vie upon you Kingdom Rush!

      • Nergal

        The veil has also been pulled back to reveal a flaming turd, alas I shall speak like medieval douche

    • Lakawak don't understand why a game that is too much like a previous one would get a lower rating than the original?

  • Legendary_Slayer

    As an avid fan of all three Kingdom Rush games, I'm definitely biased, but I don't see why it needs to be so friendly to a newcomer or super original. If you liked the first two, you'll love it. If you didn't, you won't. If you haven't played any of them, they're all pretty similar so just go with the cheapest one. Part of the charm of KR (for me) is that even if there was a fast forward button, you wouldn't use it very often because you have to stay active and engaged in the game. If you want to sit back and watch your perfect setup mow down wave after wave if enemies while you watch, you're playing the wrong game. Even the IAP isn't all that bad. You'll randomly get offers on the IAP heroes that are much better than listed price ($10 for all heroes), and you by no means need IAP heroes to beat or enjoy the game.
    Ok rant over sorry haha. It's your review not mine.

    • Gamera Love

      i think so. I have one IAP hero in Origin but my favorite are the elf archer and pixie girl.

  • Brrobotix

    I think that mentioning this game as inferior to Crystal Siege is pretty unfair. The fluid animations of KR:O and the great art and sound design alone put it way ahead of crystal siege.

    As for the fast forward button, I don't think I'd get much use out of it in this game. As someone else mentioned, Armor seemed to be trying to design the game so that you're always doing something. Whether managing your hero, fortifying towers to stop enemies coming from a new direction, or playing a stage-specific mini-game (like the "simon says" game on one of the maps that you could play to earn coins) this is a unique TD in that you very rarely are just sitting and watching the action. The extra hero power (in addition to the standard meteors/lightning and reinforcements) help with this as well.

    Yes, it could use some more diverse enemies, but I don't think this was a fair review. Just wasn't the reviewer's cup of tea.

    • Eli Hodapp

      But a review is just a summation of a writer's opinion of something. If this is Carter's opinion, how is the review not fair?

      • Brrobotix

        My main complaint with the review is that he seemed somewhat biased against the game. Much of his criticism focused on comparison with crystal siege and the previous games in the series, rather than an analysis of the game alone. Also, I believe there are some more objective things that could have been mentioned (visuals, personality of the different characters, etc). While these things have been included in previous iterations of KR, I felt they were still main selling points and different enough that they would stand out from the previous entries.

        That said, you are right. Reviews are based on opinion, no way around that. I just think it would be better to have them be as objective as possible, so that they might be a more accurate representation of the game's quality. Carter gave it a 3.5. I think many in the forums would give it a 5 or something close to it. I think the real score I'd like to see would be somewhere in the middle.

      • Eli Hodapp

        But an objective review is the iTunes description which you can read right now. It objectively lists what is in the game.

      • Brrobotix

        The iTunes description is used by developers to sell their game, and is tailored accordingly. That is why game review sites like this one exist, they have no ties to developers (at least they shouldn't) and so they are more likely to express both the pros and cons of the game. The balance between pros and cons is part of any review, and is the defining factor that creates a score. Again, I just felt that Carter left out a few items in the pros category, resulting in a skewed score.

      • MrAlbum

        Consider this scenario, if you will:

        Multiple photos are taken of a statue.

        Here are some facts about this scenario:

        No two photos can be taken from the exact same viewing angle at the exact same point in time, because being able to do so would imply that any two cameras can physically occupy the exact same point in space and time, which is impossible; at best, the cameras can be right next to each other, but they cannot merge into each other's physical structure in order to take truly identical photos. Each photo has data that is both factually correct and unique to that photo. However, each photo is incomplete; no single photo can possibly show all of the data associated with the statue, because each view point has bits of the statue obscured from its view point.

        Opinions, critiques and reviews operate in exactly the same way as this scenario. Every person has a unique opinion, and it is physically impossible for any two individuals to have the exact same physical experience of playing the game in question, not to mention how impossible it would be for those individuals to have the exact same background in culture, art, science, personal experience, whatever, necessary for any two people to come to the exact same opinion.

        And the thing is, all subjective opinions are based on objective fact, much like every photo is based on the visual data of the statue. It's just that no single opinion is based on every single fact associated with the subject of the opinion due to human limitations and limitations in the physical world we humans operate in.

        Therefore, the most objective thing a single reviewer or critic can do is state their subjective opinions as honestly as possible, and allow other people to state their subjective opinions as well. After all, this review is just one review of many. You'd probably get a more complete picture of the game's critical reception by googling reviews and reading through them, seeing all the unique data revealed in each review.

        In this way of seeing things, there is nothing wrong with this review, as long as the reviewer did their best to be honest about why they see things the way they do. As far as we know, that is exactly what happened. The reviewer compared this game to crystal siege because the reviewer saw enough similarities between the two games to make the comparison valid from his unique opinion's perspective, so that is what he honestly reported in the video game. While that's not the only way to analyze the game, nobody else may have made the comparison, or even made the comparison in the exact same way, and that bit of data may have been lost to the overall knowledge base of the game if the reviewer did not attempt to honestly report it.

        Make of my thoughts whatever you will.


        Mr. Album

      • tkylv

        That's a completely innacurate statement and fairly petty. The iTunes' description is subjective marketing copy from the developer.

        Also, Carter's review focused too much on his preference to elements of Crystal Siege and not enough on Origin's individual merits. Overall the review was unbalanced and unfocused.

        The major flaw of this new Kingdom Rush title is its lack of advancement compared to previous entries in the series. Still fun but nothing new and getting a little repetitive.

        A review by its very nature is subjective, but that does not make all reviews of equal quality. The quality of a review can be good or bad

      • Jared Nelson

        Those objective things you mentioned (visuals, character personality) are actually highly subjective. You might think it has awesome graphics, I might think they're ugly. Neither of us is wrong! Objective stuff would be like how many levels the game has or what devices it runs on. Those are actual facts, the rest is really just up to each individual.

      • Brrobotix

        True, I think I was using objective wrong there. But as I said above I just think this review left out some key strengths and focused mainly on a few negatives, skewing the score.

        But you guys are the experts here, not me.

      • Jared Nelson

        Oh I don't think it has anything to do with being an expert haha, we're pretty much just gamers like the rest of you. With KR in particular I've noticed two distinct camps of people. There's people who love the series and are perfectly happy with having more of the same with just slight tweaks, and then there's people who want more of a grand advancement in the formula, which Origins didn't really deliver. Again, neither camp is really wrong. Regarding "I just think this review left out some key strengths and focused mainly on a few negatives" that is good feedback, much more useful than "this score is wrong and this reviewer sucks!!" so thanks for that.

      • InkyTheGhost

        The review is unfair when Carter says "This criticism is possibly unfair." Most folks agree their iap models are respectful and gamer friendly. You're right, it's totally his opinion. Just seems a bit reactionary. But what can you do, someone is always upset.

      • Brian

        I agree that criticizing kingdom rush for no fast forward is unfair. I've been playing TD games for a loooong time. Playing KR on Veteran and 3 starring each level with no items and the challenges, there is no time to sit back and press fast forward. You have to constantly be upgrading at just the right time , using powers, moving barracks waypoints, moving Heroes, it's rare to just sit for a wave.

        Unlike other games where I can go several waves of not doing anything.

        Still, my favorite TD is still good old Desktop Tower Defense

  • Goggles789

    Like many games on the App Store, this series has proven to be a "play for 20 minutes and delete" venture for me. Just couldn't get into it like I did with Geo Defense.

    • Kaung

      You're dumb human and you don't deserve to play the game.

      • Goggles789

        You're a tower of taste.

  • Jake7905

    This was an overly harsh review without question. When a majority of the review consists of complaints about IAP heroes, negative comparisons to Crystal Siege, complaints about releasing 2 apps (HD & SD) and problems playing it on a Mini2, I have a hard time calling it a fair review. After all, the IAP heroes are completely optional, Crystal Siege owes it's existence to the KR franchise, releasing 2 apps doesn't effect the gameplay, and it plays flawlessly on a Mini2 (I own one).

    • PoloBaquerizoH

      Not too objective I believe

    • Lakawak

      Just because something "owes its existence" to another game doesn't mean it can't be better than a sequel to that original game.

  • Amenbrother

    I loved this game actually.

  • MrXax

    Down with non-universal games!

  • Unbecoming

    This is the first one where I've felt a little tired of. The locations don't feel different enough. The towers don't look or feel obvious as to what they do, or especially crucial as they did in say, KR1. I'm not much of a fan of the levelling system introduced either - much prefer what they did in KR1. I *love* kingdom rush, but this one seems a little bit of a lazy continuation of Frontiers, which was a direction I wasn't totally blown away with (levelling, mostly). Very good, by no means great.

  • tex32

    I am a huge fan of the Kingdom Rush series, and I think Carter did a great job of describing why he gave KRO 3.5 stars. Too many times, people get caught up in "the score". As a reviewer, he thoroughly explained why he scored KRO as he did. He gave the reader enough details about the game (IAP's, length of each mission, heroes abilities, etc) for the reader to make up their own mind as to whether or not they would enjoy each of those facets. Well done and keep the solid reviews coming.

    • bababewey

      I think more than that, I think people don't see 3.5 out 5 as a good score. I think this absolutely deserved a 7 out of 10, which is absolutely a good score. As far as those who seem to feel the need to debate people whenever they post even an intelligible, measured critique of a review based on the fact that reviews are "subjective opinions", well, subjective opinions have always been open to debate, that's kind of the purpose of a public forum.

  • cyllwynn

    Overall I totally agree. But the IAP in Warhammer 40k Space Wolves is way more aggressive and the ability to buy high priced super cards is also much more prevalent; yet you had no issues with it there. Moreover, that game was straight up not refined in gameplay elements at all. Just a thought.

    • Andrew Fretz

      Yeah man, how could we give Space Wolves a higher score than Kingdom Rush Origins?

      I will let you fact check me.
      Go ahead.
      I'll wait.

  • Allentown Poor Richard

    This latest iteration of Kingdom sh doesn't let you buy gold which has helped in the other iterations to build up your towers. I prefer that instead of sswitching heroes and buying more powerful ones.

  • Fangbone

    I thought this iteration was just as good as the first two. But hey that's my opinion.

    • Gamera Love

      i think so. people just want to complaint. IAP heroes are optional. I rather have IAP heroes than only one hero.

  • worldcitizen1919

    Good review. No flame here. Very understandable. It's a good game but heroes are set at an unfair price.

    • Nergal

      Yup, good game, but way too much IAP, which can be a huge negative.

  • Womble

    I'm a kingdom rush fan, but if I'm being honest with myself, this was the most boring one of the three.

  • Guitario666

    I have the first 2 and this should have been dlc on the 2nd one

  • splendidham

    Also a fan and loved Origins. But I also agree with the in-app and although I purchased all of the heroes, it's always been a problem for me that while I had them on my iPad ( in KR and Frontiers also), I had to pay for them again on my iPhone. I don't mind paying for the heroes but I do mind paying twice. Feel like I deserve a little bit more for splashing out some pretty significant cash for what is a mobile game. Clearly they make money off this game so it does come across as a little greedy.
    Still, I do love the game and can't wait for the next update

  • diegohostettler

    For a td game and his is def a 5/5. Reviewer has no clue

    • Kizmatti

      I completely disagree with everything this reviewer said about the game. Further I do like Origins quite a bit, and haven't ever played the first 2 games. The IAP here is very mild @ best. 3 heroes are free, the others can be purchased, but aren't needed to finish the game. Animations, sound, gameplay all very fluid on my iPad Air. I've played this for several hours without any game crashes or black screens the reviewer complains about. The game speed is just fine. I couldn't imagine the monsters faster than what's in game currently, probably why the developers didn't put a fast forward button in. Seems this reviewer decided to bash the game with his opinions, rather than give an open unbiased description.

  • diegohostettler

    This is a 5/5 td. Nothing can really compare to kingdom rush. It's just perfectly balanced fun and engaging. Comparing it to crystal siege which is basically just a kr clone is wrong. Reviewer has no clue what matters in a good td. People who are not td fanatics should probably stay away from reviewing td's.

  • Papa Deuce

    I have the first two in the series.... Loved both, so I bought this..... I am not feeling the love this time. Not really sure why..... Maybe the TD love has packed its bags and I need a divorce, or at least a trial separation.

  • gcl

    Another KR fan, bought both regular and HD and a few heroes including both dragons, bonehead and flame face:-) so I've dropped some change to show my love for the series. That said,i appreciated the fine review on various points where the reviewer found fault. If I'm interested in a game I make it a point to check multiple sources, but TA is my first go-to. Life's too short to get huffy about disagreement; let's have fun, play games and have happy holidays!!

  • araczynski

    Agree with OP, this series has been infected with the angry birds syndrome: churning out thensame thing over and over to milk as many fans as possible before people throw up at the mere mention of it.

  • I Laugh at Morons

    I honestly loved this game more than the other two. Not sure why there's so much hate about it. And... what do you mean, boring new towers and heroes? Nearly all of the new heroes and towers implemented new features. Two shots from the mage towers, the upgrade to make all shots teleport enemies away, the rapid-fire mage tower, pretty much loved the mage towers. And the barrack-type towers were especially unique when compared to the ones from KR and KR:F, which all basically functioned the same way.

    Upgrades were totally different. You could get ranged attacks for your reinforcements before their armor and health was fully upgraded. Reduced costs on barracks is incredibly useful, although not as useful as the artillery and mage cost reductions from KR.

    Basically, I feel as though the reviewer saw change as a bad thing, and I see it as a great leap foward. Definitely not just for fans, for anyone.

  • joe

    old post but whatever. Yes the levels take time, why beat the game in one small sitting. If you paid $5 for the game and a level takes on average 22 minutes, be happy! With over 20 levels, as well as the heroic and iron challenges which dont take as much time. To the point thats well over 8 hours of game play assuming you just zip through and dont go for veteran mode with no lives lost. Then unless youve played enough to have better a strategy that those screen shots in this blog youll definitely spend well over 10 hours easily. Myself ive played through all 3 kingdom rush games many times and still enjoy them, after time you forget your strategy and the game is difficult again. Speaking of strategy this one is by far an actual challenge compaired to the previous 2. Even having bought a multitude of heroes myself i still find myself struggling from time to time or loosing due to forgetting proper tower placements and combinations. To be quite honest all the games are always so well done but out of all three origins is by far my favorite as well as favorite android game. Id never complain about prices of this game. Its so well done in every aspect of it, if there was a console edition of kingdom rush id buy it. Even of it was only a re-release of all three games combined for $60. Anywho waste of time very old post but i was just checking up on bing search for news of the next edition of the game and for some reason. Btw comparing kingdom rush to the other game mentioned in the blog is a total joke no game has come close to kingdom rush besides pirate legends td and incursion but both fall short in all categories.

  • Lakawak

    It's just a shame that the will not allow fans to play the game on a large monitor. IT is nowhere near as fun in a 5.5 inch phone.

Kingdom Rush Origins HD Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3.5