Published on September 11th, 2013 | by James Maxwell0
Rum Isle Review
Ever since mobile gaming started gaining popularity on mobile devices we have seen solid entries from all genres you’ve grown to love on other gaming formats. Mobile devices have seen quality releases in genres such as platformers, shooters, dungeon crawlers, RPG’s, etc, but the one genre I feel has had a hard time adapting to this new platform is the RTS. There are definitely a fair share of competent RTS games to be found on Google Play, but it’s hard to find one that comes close to having the complexity of what gamers would expect to find on the device that handles them best; the PC.
The indie developer Panic Art Studios (the guys behind the popular zombie shooter Zombie Kill of the Week) has decided to break this trend with the release of their new pirate themed RTS Rum Isle.
Rum Isle is most easily described as a simplified real time strategy game that has a strong focus on resource gathering. One of your main focuses when playing Rum Isle will be sending your workers to mine ore, chop down trees, collect bananas, or harvest sugar cane. These resources are going to be used for building new structures; often ones that are going to refine the raw materials into more useful materials. Anyone that has played an RTS game before will get the hang of the gameplay in no time, and there is an easy to follow tutorial for those who may be new to the genre.
One way that Rum Isle differs from the more traditional RTS is how it handles combat. Traditional RTS games would have you managing your army so that you could attack the enemy a while still having enough of a defense set up to defend your base from a possible enemy attack.Rum Isle has done away with the army management system entirely and instead has implemented a far more simplified ‘tower defense’ model of gameplay. You will use the resources your workers gather and refine to build a variety of defenses for your base. This includes walls, gates, and of two different tower types; the arrow tower and the cannon tower. Each of these tower types can be upgraded several times, with each upgrade increasing their defenses and giving them additional shots being fired simultaneously. You definitely need to stay on top of your defenses so you don’t get overrun by the randomly occurring enemy attacks.
The other key element to Rum Isle’s gameplay is its Battleship-esque sea battles. While playing the RTS elements of the game you will receive random invitations to battle the enemy at sea, which you can either accept or decline. If you agree to the battle you will be given a 10×10 grid that you will place a variety of different sized ships onto a 10×10 grid. Once your ships are placed you will take turns with the enemy to see who can sink their opponents ships first. If you come out as the victor you are then awarded with gold, building materials, and occasionally you will even get relics that provide you with boosts that will help you in other areas of the game.
While I found the first few of these Battleship battles to be a fun and unique addition to the RTS genre I found myself a bit annoyed by their repetitive nature rather quickly. You are given the option to skip them if you so choose, but then you will miss out on some valuable loot. These battles are the easiest way to earn gold in the game and the only way to unlock the rare relics mentioned above, and as such you almost feel like you have to play them if you want to experience everything the game has to offer.
I have found that the developers have managed to create an RTS that has taken the most basic elements from the RTS genre and turned them into something that works perfectly on mobile devices. However, there is one thing that may disappoint some gamers out there, and that is that Rum Isle seems to have been aimed mostly towards casual gamers. Hardcore RTS fans may find the gameplay lacking the depth they might expect to find in games they have played on PC. This doesn’t mean that the game is bad by any means, but it is certainly on the easier side of the difficulty scale. For gamers (myself included) that have been put off by the difficulty usually associated with RTS games are sure to be happy about what Panic Art Studios has put together here. The game is fun to play, highly addictive, and offers enough of a challenge to keep casual gamers entertained for a long time to come. I would still recommend that hardcore gamers check out Rum Isle as it is without a doubt one of the best mobile RTS’s released to date.
One of Rum Isle’s strongest aspects of are it’s stunning retro inspired graphics. Panic Art Studios have done an amazing job of creating a gorgeous world that really feels like something you would have expected to see many years ago. There is a definite retro-vibe in Rum Isle, but there are enough modern touches to make the game feel ‘newer’. The icons, menus, characters, buildings, and environments all look great together, and the color pallet is spot on and fits in well with the pirate theme that has been used. Rum Isle is a real joy to look at, and it is sure to provide older gamers with a nice kick of nostalgia.
The Sound design in Rum Isle is yet another one of the game’s strongest successes. The music the developers have chosen to use is upbeat and has a really awesome retro feel to it. The tunes somehow feel ‘pirate-y’, and they just fit in perfectly with the graphics and the gameplay. In addition to the music Rum Isle’s sound effects are well done. When you scroll around the map you will hear explosions when a battle is in progress, and each of the games resources makes a unique sound while a worker is gathering it. I have been very impressed by the sound design that has been used here and it is without a doubt one of the game’s strongest aspects.
Rum Isle’s replayability is the one aspect of the game that I am having touble deciding on. The game is fun, and I enjoyed my time playing it, but I was able to create an indestructible set of defenses and build all of the game’s structures in just a few hours. One everything was built I didn’t find a whole lot of reason to keep playing, as I didn’t have anything left to work for. The developer has stated there will be update to the game quite frequently, so I’m sure this wont be the case sometime down the road.
For those out there that want to accomplish everything that the game has to offer there is quite a nice set of extras that will keep you busy for quite a while. The game has a fair number of achievements that you can work towards, and these can be quite time consuming to say the least. There are also a good number of relics to be gathered through the game’s Battleship battles, which will also keep you very busy.
Rum Isle’s replayability depends entirely on the person playing it. I definitely enjoyed my time playing the game, but it I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the lack of non-achievement related things to do. I’m confident that he future updates that are released for Rum Isle will add some much needed content to the game that will dramatically increase the game’s level of replayability.
Rum Island is a huge success for the RTS genre on mobile devices. The gameplay is simplified over what you’d find in a PC RTS, but Rum Isle’s gameplay just “works” on mobile devices – and is most importantly a lot of fun! The retro feel that Panic Art Studios has created through its stellar graphics and sound design is perfect and will definitely provide a blast of nostalgia to older gamers. While Rum Isle is a huge success for mobile games I do feel the game has been aimed more towards the casual gaming crowd. Hardcore gamers may be put off by the more simplified gameplay, but I still highly recommend that all gamers check this game out. Rum Isle is the best RTS you are going to find for Android.
Rum Isle is a free download on Google Play, and I highly recommend at least giving this game a shot – no matter your RTS skill level.
Developer Website: PanicArtStudios.com
Summary: Rum Isle is a solid RTS game that works perfectly for mobile devices. The gameplay is simplified over what is typically found in the genre, and this makes it more likely to appeal to the casual gamer rather than those hardcore gamers that are looking for a real challenge. I highly recommend giving Rum Isle a download regardless of your skill level when playing an RTS as it is a free download, and the retro design elements are something that need to be experienced by all gamers.