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Review: Swords & Soldiers (Nintendo Switch)By Sasari At 02.04.2019 09:22

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The basic gameplay of Swords & Soldiers is reminiscent of a mobile tower defence game. A camp at the left of the screen is the spawn point for units to be produced. These units then pillage across to the goal on the right. Simple enough - but there are some extra elements that keep things interesting, like a touch of resource management, and some timed special abilities. It's more resource management than anything else, though.

There are mobs to collect gold from nearby mines, and a mystic magical stockpile which recovers over time. Purchasing mobs or buying upgrades costs gold; casting spells costs the magical energy; knowing just how many miners to buy before sending out the defences, when to cast an offensive spell, and when to keep them in reserve. It all comes with practice. It's easy to pick up though, easy to work out which mobs are most effective against which enemies.

Starting out as some marauding Vikings, there's a story campaign of 10 levels to play through that sees the bearded psychopaths battle against fellow Vikings, Aztecs, and Chinese. These other factions each have their own campaign to play through too, each with 10 stages. Topped off by a campaign by Chief Meat's army, which bundled together aspects of the other three forces combined. The problem with these campaigns is that they are far too easy, even the stages which give objectives other than "Walk to the other side and destroy something."

Thankfully, this release somewhat addresses that, by adding in additional modes. There's a multiplayer, a customisable Skirmish, and Survival mode. Along with bonus game modes, such as 'Berserker Run' where Arnie the Berserker has to be kept alive with limited resources, and 'Boulder mode,' where a boulder is playable - the aim to roll through ranks of allies and enemies, crushing the enemies and hopping over the allies. Berserker and Boulder are brief distractions which will garner little replayability. It's the Survival and Skirmish which will get players returning.

Each faction has its own unique spells and units. The Vikings have standard battle axe-wielding warriors, short axe throwers for ranged attacks, midgets with giant ice hammers to slow the enemy and huge frost launching catapults to damage and slow groups. On the magical side, they have a single target damaging lightning bolt, a magical light of healing, a frosty rain which freezes groups in its path, and a berserk spell which speeds friendly units along.

The Aztecs have speedy jaguar warriors, little guys with poisoned blowpipes for ranged, witch doctors who can raise the dead, and huge hulking giants who knockback and deal AOE damage. Their spells allow them to throw clouds of poison, sacrifice their own mobs for health, spawn laser firing totems and their ultimate tosses a gargantuan boulder across the field, rolling and crushing any enemies in its path like a giant Katamari.

Finally, the Chinese have Ninja Monkeys that can teleport past enemies, Rocketeers who launch huge fireworks at their enemies, and Zen masters who can steal the souls of enemies. The Chinese magics can call down rains of flaming arrows, summon terracotta warriors from the ground, duplicate their own mobs, and best of all, summon a huge, fire-breathing dragon.

Being a ten-year-old game, it should really have issues in translating to modern day, however, thanks to the solid, vibrant, cartoonish art style, it has transitioned absolutely fine. No-one would guess this wasn't a game made for Switch. With the sprites looking nice and crisp in whatever the preferred mode of play.

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Final Score
While it's mostly a by-the-numbers tower defence game, and a dated one at that, it's also surprisingly enjoyable. The comedic tone and writing, while not laugh-out-loud funny, has some pretty amusing moments. It's just a little too short, but fans of this one can look forward to the sequel reaching Switch soon.



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