Back in November of 2016 I had the pleasure of catching up with Aaron Grove, the creative director at Blowfish Studios, the team responsible for Siegecraft Commander. Despite a busy PAX Australia floor, Aaron was able to show me the game in both its Virtual Reality and traditional desktop formats. We played the game in multiplayer and it was enormous fun. You can read about the entire thing here.
I will always make the time to review Australian made content, although I won’t allow it to include bias in my reviews. After the Australian Government ripped the funding out of indie game development, it makes me proud to see teams like Blowfish Studios and others push on regardless.
Siegecraft Commander is billed as a ‘Real-time or Turn-Based Strategy’ on the Steam page, and while an element of Strategy is definitely present I would argue that reflexes, manual dexterity and a sharp eye are all far more important.
Starting with the Keep, players are required to ‘fire’ their buildings using a swiveling shot meter with sliding strength bar. Much like Scorched Earth or Worms, it’s very easy to under or over shoot, and in a 3D space get the angle all wrong. RTS purists will no doubt be upset here as Siegecraft Commander is in no way your typical RTS. Once you’ve fired your building a wall will tail behind it connecting the two structures together. Continuing to fire and create more buildings will ultimately lead to a long chain or web of structures all connected by wall. If a structure is destroyed at the end of the chain then that is all you lose, however, if a building is destroyed much earlier in the web then everything that comes after it is also destroyed. You’ll do well to not let your enemy flank your front line.
You’ll also be required to use the same firing method to actually attack enemy towers. Accuracy and precision are paramount here, and you’ll need to play the game for a while to get a good feel for it. Troop management and control for the most part is automated; you simply fire out a barracks and units will start popping out at regular intervals. They’ll meander their way to the nearest enemy unit or structure and start bashing away.
There is a tech tree and you’ll need to make certain buildings before you can create others. Likewise, you’ll also need to control different points on the map that contain crystals in order to power and unlock access to more advanced structures. There is no resource system however, only cooldowns, so beyond that feel free to infi-spam towers all across the map.
The object of the game is (in most cases) to destroy your opponent’s Keep. Although often in the case of the single player scenario it’s not quite that simple and other objective are required to be completed first.
Speaking of which, the game includes a complete single player campaign with the ability to play two factions, either the Humans or the Lizard folk. From my time with the game, the differences appeared to be mostly cosmetic but I admit I did not play the campaign to completion.
As a much welcomed addition the game also includes a HTV Vive virtual reality mode which affords a much greater view of the game map, although a completely new skill arc in terms of selecting your towers and firing them. See my video below for a better explanation.
Is the game simply tower defense? No. While I would say the game includes some tower defense elements it’s a lot more than that with some degree of strategy and accurate shooting skills required.
Is the game Real Time Strategy or Turn Based Strategy? Both. And neither. The game allows you to play in either real time or turn based modes, a fine option but ultimately the bulk of the fun is had in real time with a friend in multiplayer. Compared to Starcraft, Age of Empires or Civilization, Siegecraft Commander isn’t exactly a purists idea of a strategy game. ‘Arcade Strategy’ might be a better term?
Multiplayer is frantic and hectic. You’ll often misfire as you rush to get a critical shot out. There will be laughter, frustration and ultimately good times. Rushing the field with a mess of towers and overwhelming your opponent or finding that they’ve snuck around the back and destroyed your keep is a heck of a lot of fun. Then there are those moments when neither of you can seem to land a shot with both buildings on the edge of collapsing. Who’s going to take the time to line up the shot and win at the risk of being taken out by a lucky shot?
Will I hate my friends playing this game? Yes. Then I’ll laugh it off and quickly challenge them to another match.
SUMMARY: Ultimately I feel Siegecraft Commander shines most when in a multiplayer environment. Much like Worms, Scorched Earth or even the classic Firepower; these games were built for and played much, much better with friends. Sure you could play them in single player for practice but beyond that they quickly became dull and repetitive. Add a +1 to your gaming session and Siegecraft Commander becomes a LOT more fun. I really can’t emphasise that enough; don’t buy into the game just for a single player experience because I think you’ll be disappointed. The added HTC Vive mode is a welcome addition and is absolutely gorgeous.
SCORE: 75% (Single Player Only – 50%)
Reviewed On: PC Review System: NVidia 1070GTX, Intel i7-6700k, 32GB DDR4, HTC Vive Playtime: 4 hours
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I started gaming in 1982 when my father would bring home an IBM PC XT for work reasons. Naturally after he was done we'd also play some games. In 1983 we acquired the PC full time and I was also lucky enough to receive an Atari 2600 for my birthday that same year. I've been gaming for over 30 years and I've loved every minute of it. Watching games evolve from text and basic visuals to home virtual reality has been amazing. I still have a fondness for the classics though and enjoy collecting 5.25" and 3.5" PC games from the 80's and 90's.