PAX AUS 2016: Siegecraft Commander

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Over the course of the PAX Australia 2016 weekend I had the opportunity to play a great many games.  One of the more interesting titles was Siegecraft Commander from Australian team Blowfish Studios.

You’ve no doubt heard of ‘Tower Defence’ but how about ‘Tower Warfare’? Siegecraft Commander is a real-time strategy game (for the most part) that will see players laying wall, constructing a variety of towers, recruiting units and destroying their enemies with cataclysmic chain reactions.

I managed to catch up with Aaron Grove who is the creative director on Siegecraft Commander about this most recent game to carry the Siegecraft title. Moving on from portable devices and more traditional tower defense titles Siegecraft Commander pushes the genre in a new direction.

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Aaron was kind enough to give me a run down on the game and a chance to play it both with a controller on a Windows PC and the Virtual Reality version of the title. Impressively the title is also coming to Xbox One and Playstation 4 with Playstation VR ‘being likely’.

Unlike a tower defense game where you typically place towers along a path with a flow of critters you have to destroy before they reach the other end, this game is more akin to a real-time strategy, with players extending their walls and engaging in direct combat with either the AI or another player.

Utilizing a simple radial menu I was able to place new towers which place a trail of wall behind them and then use those towers to aim and fire at enemy structures and units.  You have to be careful not to over-extend yourself however and a degree of strategy needs to be employed when laying your zig-zagging, snake like trail of walls, because if your opponent knocks out an earlier node in the line everything that comes after that is destroyed.  This creates a balance between striking out into enemy territory and bolstering your existing structures.

Playing the game in Virtual Reality gave me more of a ‘Populous’ feel, as if I was a God looking down on the battlefield below.  This version of the game has a number of advantages, one being that you can easily see the entirety of the battlefield, looking and moving very quickly across the entire map.  It also feels more ‘personal’ somehow, with the ability to zoom right in to ground level and take a close inspection of the surrounding terrain and the battle taking place.  Ultimately it really felt like I was playing a game of Warhammer Fantasy / Age of Sigmar in real life on the classic 4′ x 4′ table.

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The Blowfish Studios team are often busy during the day with, well… ‘day jobs’ so that means all their games are made in their spare time.  It’s a labor of passion which is clearly evident when you play their games.  The games visuals are a little deceptive in that you’ll initially think them quite simple or basic, but on closer inspection realise just how much detail there is. The game itself is very easy to learn but the trick will be mastering it; there is a deceptive amount of depth for a game about knocking over enemy towers.

The game does have a single player campaign, multiplayer obviously and also interestingly a turn based multiplayer mode which will no doubt make games take a lot longer to complete but is a nice addition for those with perhaps slower reflexes and a more cunning mind.  It is additions like this that (whether you use them or not) are a nice inclusion and show that the developer is going the extra mile.

Siegecraft Commander is due to be released early next year (Steam has the release listed at January 17th).  I’d strongly urge you to take a look when it arrives as this game was a lot of fun to play.

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