Swords & Soldiers Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Strategic fun like you’ve never seen before!
  • (5 more, see all...)

Swords & Soldiers is a tower defense game, mixed with some strategy and lots of humor. Its genre can’t be pinpointed precisely and at the same time it’s not any of the aforementioned ones.

The game has a convoluted history and I mention this because it has some bearings on why Swords & Soldiers turn out the way it did and why this is a great title to play.

Unlike most games who ended up on the Linux platform, eventually, this indie game was not developed for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, but for Wii, of all places. The developers, Ronimo Games (first two letters from Robot Ninja Monkeys), had a small success with an obscure, but interesting game, a few years back, called de Blob.

After selling the game's rights to THQ, Ronimo Games started working on Swords & Soldiers, but as a flash game time time. Probably after realizing the potential of what they were building, the developers set the bar a little higher and transformed the game into a multiplayer title.

Later on, they added the single player campaign, but more like a side project. In time, it became as important as the multiplayer and it shows in all the details and humor that went into it. Swords & Soldiers was initially launched on Wiiware (that’s an odd choice) and later it was ported to other platforms.

The above history lesson is important for this review, because it shows how much was invested in something that was bound to be successful and that is built by gamers, for gamers.

Installation

It’s a shame that some games, especially the really interesting ones, need an event such as a Humble Bundle in order to make it to Linux. It has been more than a year since Swords & Soldiers was launched for the Windows platform, but I guess it’s better late than never.

The developers provide packages for 32-bit and 64-bit and virtually all Linux distributions, but keep in mind that there is no source package and users cannot compile their own version. If by any change some dependencies are not met, the game can be simply ran from a terminal to determine what is necessary.

Gameplay

As I stated at the beginning of the review, Swords & Soldiers is marketed as a real time strategy game, but after playing it, I believe it fits better in the tower defense genre.

An important part of what makes a game to be considered a real time strategy title is the ability of the player to control individual units or at least squads. There is no such control in this game and the fact that they intended to implement it at some time during the development doesn’t make it an RTS.

The game can start in two modes. In the first one, the player has no gold, but there are gold mines available, or he has some pre-allocated funds that must be dispensed in such a way that they are not squandered.

The money is used to recruit workers for the mine, train fighters, to research spells and other passive abilities. Once the soldiers are recruited they start to walk towards the enemy base, fighting their way through.

Here is where the player has a more active role. He must intervene, usually with spell, to help his soldiers. Remember, the units cannot be directly controlled, although sometimes their path can be altered.

The campaign is divided in three parts, each played with a different faction: Vikings, Aztecs, and Imperial Chinese. The units from every faction are completely different and all the campaigns play accordingly.

The story is not a big part of the game, as everything unfolds in a skirmish manner, besides the skirmish mode that is also available, but the dialogues are hilarious and you'll have a lot of fun while playing.

The game also comes with an online mode and players can get in real fights, against one another. These battles are a lot fiercer and the AI will never hold a candle to what a human can do.

The Bad

The major problem with Swords & Soldiers is the fact that sometimes battles are so hectic that is impossible to distinguish what is happening and thus making it very difficult for the player to act, using spells or other abilities.

Also, the skirmish maps could have used a little more variety, and the challenge mode is in fact a little too difficult. Nonetheless, the achievements of some players are quite impressive.

The Good

The humor is a big part of the game and right from the start is one of the things that makes Swords & Soldiers a lovable title, and combined with the wacky art direction and overall feeling, aside from the minor gameplay problems, it’s a great pastime.

Conclusion

It’s hard, if almost impossible not to enjoy Swords & Soldiers and you don’t really know why. It is not all that flashy, although it sports nice graphics, and taken apart it has its flaws. Either way, this game will make you pay a lot more attention to what Ronimo Games has to say in the future, and makes one hope for a second version, sometime in the not to distant future.


user interface 3
features 4
ease of use 3
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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