Published on November 21st, 2014 | by Craig Forshey0
Kingdom Rush Origins Review
Third time’s the charm?
Ironhide Game Studio’s fantastic tower defense franchise Kingdom Rush is often pointed to as the pinnacle of what an Android strategy game can be, and rightly so. Kingdom Rush and it’s sequel Kingdom Rush Frontiers delivered some of the most addicting strategy gameplay this side of Warcraft 3 all the while maintaining a high level of polish and fun that continues to be the benchmark other developers often shoot for when making a new tower defense game. The series’ one-two combo of unique gameplay and unmatched quality is why it still gets accolades to this day, so it comes as no surprise then that Ironhide Game Studio has made a third Kingdom Rush game called Kingdom Rush Origins which is now available on Google Play.
So, does this new entry in the fan favorite Kingdom Rush series live up to the expectations set by its predecessors? In a word, yes. Those already familiar with Kingdom Rush will find that Origins is every bit as strong as the previous games while newcomers will be enthralled by the near perfect mechanics and solid presentation not often found in mobile strategy offerings, but the pressure to stick to form is also readily apparent here as while Kingdom Rush Origins is no doubt a fantastic game it doesn’t exactly do anything the first two Kingdom Rush games didn’t do already either leaving it feeling like much of the same. That’s by no means a bad thing though as Kingdom Rush’s unit-centric brand of tower defense works well for a reason, just don’t go into Origins expecting to see anything you haven’t already seen if you’re a fan of the series.
As its name implies Kingdom Rush Origins works as a prequel of sorts to the other two games and loosely explores some of the characters and worlds featured in its predecessors. It turns out the evil wizard Vez’Nan who you may remember as the maniacally lovable antagonist from the first Kingdom Rush wasn’t always such a bad guy, aside from all necromancy that is. In Kingdom Rush Origins he’s actually a playable(payable?) hero character, and is just one of the tons of overt nods to the previous games in the series. A light hearted comic book style tale guides players along the humorous plotline as they lead a band of battle hardened elves on an epic journey to defeat an unstoppable evil adversary threatening to conquer the world…….with evil!
The gameplay in Kingdom Rush Origins follows the same beats as the previous entries in the series for the most part but as the saying goes, if it aint’ broke don’t fix it. As with the first two Kingdom Rush’s, Origins serves as an addicting mashup of tower defense and classic RTS games like Warcraft that blends together strategically placing different towers across each level with commanding squads of individual units in order to give players a more hands on feel. While enemy units march towards their base players can issue limited commands to their own units and hero character which makes up the subtle but absolutely critical tweak to standard tower defense gameplay that’s executed perfectly by Kingdom Rush Origins and its brethren. There are branching upgrade paths for each tower that can give them a wide range of special abilities, with the key to success being figuring out which combination of attacks will work best against whatever dastardly enemies each particular level offers. This way players are free to play the game their way and are encouraged to experiment by design which is one of the mains reasons why Kingdom Rush Origins is so addicting.
As is usual with anything from Ironhide Games , the graphics and sound design in Kingdom Rush Origins are spot on with a humorous flair that helps keep things upbeat. The faux comic book style is back and better than ever with each level hiding tons of little Easter eggs that you’ll really need a tablet to appreciate. So while players are waiting for the current wave to finish they can actually literally poke around the level for hidden gags and power ups which go a long ways towards breaking up any monotony that may occur, a very smart design choice. The music is appropriately epic and enjoyable to listen to as well without getting in the way of the action with some nice voice over work providing comic relief.
Kingdom Rush Origins is available for $2.99 as of the time of this writing which gives you access to the whole campaign and three heroes. However as is par for the course for Kingdom Rush Games there are additional heroes available as iap’s and one-off power ups purchasable with in-game currency that can both be earned either from completing missions or by exchanging real currency. The power ups are largely superfluous thankfully and not game breaking in any way but it is still a little disappointing to see most of the cooler heroes like Vez’Nan locked behind paywalls in what is otherwise an exemplary upgrade system that allows players to level up their personal hero with new abilities. While dismaying, I completely understand why additional heroes would cost a little extra as Kingdom Rush Origins offers a staggering amount of content for only 3 bucks and it’s fair for the developers to ask gamers to pay what is still less than double digit amounts to play such a high quality game.
Summary: Kingdom Rush Origins is a fantastic mobile strategy game that will rekindle your love of tower defense. Although it doesn't deviate much from its predecessors in this case that's a good thing as Kingdom Rush Origins joins them as one of the best strategy experiences Android has to offer.