Castlestorm: Definitive Edition is truly definitive. The re-release of Castlestorm and its two expansions: ’From Outcast To Saviour’ and ‘Warrior Queen’ in 1080p, 60fps have found a home on the next-gen systems. Zen Studios definitely went with “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” approach with this version of the game.
For those of you who have no idea what Castlestorm is, you have been missing out. Zen’s game offers Warcraft-style characters in an Angry Birds world. The main objective of the games involves defending your fortress against the likes of barbarians, vikings, and dire wolves. Giving the game a very familiar tower defense feel, adding yet another genre to this great compilation.
The majority of your time will be spent warding off enemies of all sizes with your ballista-armed fortress. The ballista is armed with handy arrows, but can be upgraded to your hearts content. Arrows are not the only projectile, they are joined by bombs that will clear waves and rocks that will make the enemy fortress crumble to pieces, even potions that convert enemies to allies. However, do not expect your ballista to be your only source of power. With RTS-style unit management, Castlestorm allows you to wage battle to enemy units with units of your own. The units include all the common tropes that again helps with the familiarity of the strategy in the game. You have a foot solider, an archer, units with mounts, flying units, and even a “hero” unit. With the “hero” unit you can engage enemies in a zoomed in 2D plane. When the waves become more than you can handle you can summon your “hero” and get shifted to a side scrolling, hack and slash perspective that will make short work of your enemies. Along with the hero character you are given a variety of magic spells that work well enough to use against enemies, but I felt that it felt too contrived to make you want to use it. By the time you unlock magic spells in the game the player is definitively already comfortable with the more manual forms of combat.
As you progress through the campaign you’ll be able to upgrade everything from your weapons to your castle itself. Some upgrades and features are harder to comprehend than others. The game’s tutorial is almost perfect in showing new players to how do everything in the game with the big exception in the beginning, the castle editor. In the beginning the castle editor could be a little daunting to understand. With so many options it is no surprise that it was difficult to convey all the editor has to give, but once mastered, the castle editor becomes your new best friend. Unlocking many new rooms that all come with features to make a good looking and impenetrable castle.
The game’s visuals and dry witty humor are definitely reminiscent of the early work at Blizzard, particularly Warcraft III. No joke that is too hilarious or visual that takes full advantage of the next-gen console, but they all still work well. The similarities to Warcraft and Angry Birds gave the game some charm, without jumping the shark. I can not say the same for the controls.
Often in the heat of the battle I found myself using several unwanted projectiles and summoning unwanted units because I constantly struggled with a sometimes jarring control scheme. The controls are by no means broken, but certainly can not keep up with the pace of some intense back and forth battles particularity later campaign levels and several multiplayer battles.
Speaking of multiplayer, Zen Studios has introduced several new features to this version of the game, with voice chat in the online multiplayer being the most prominent one. Unfortunately, I was unable to join any matches in any games type to test this feature and the online multiplayer itself. However, I did spend tons of time playing the local multiplayer which was by no surprise fun and exhilarating. The timing a human player has to attack you and management his units add a whole other layer to the combat of the game. Instead of attacking each other the co-operative play with exciting survival modes allows you to work with friends to earn money. The money from multiplayer augments the progression in story modes by giving you the money to spend of more and more upgrades, completionists rejoice!
Perhaps the least prominent features in this new package are the 3D mode and remote play on the Playstation Vita, both were a genuine surprise. Castlestorm: Definitive Edition is one of the few games on the Playstation 4 that has a stereoscopic 3D mode. Being an early adopter of a 3D television I was able to test this feature out throughly. In my experience it added a good depth of field without creating any ghosting issues, screen tearing, or frame rate issues which was definitively a plus. As for remote play on the Vita, I cannot recommend it enough, but for this game it is absolutely perfect. The game ran so well and looked so vibrant on the small screen I found myself starting on the PS4 and finishing my gaming session on the Vita. Since the game is so great in short bursts, Castlestorm easily becomes one of the best advocates for remote play.
Castlestorm is indeed a concoction of genres that proves versatile in terms of incorporating all gameplay styles in a stable and fun manner, but the whole is definitively greater that the sum of its parts. Broken down, Zen Studios, has created simplistic entries to different genres with struggling controls, but how they packaged all these entries is what separates Castlestorm from other generic tower defense games.
Recommended: Recommended games are not held in the same esteem as those of a Must Play. A game that receives a “Recommended” is one that you certainly will enjoy playing, and our editor recommends that you do, but it may have a few problems that stop it from being the type of game you have to have right that instant.