Kingdom Rush Legends is Ironhide Game Studio’s latest revamp of its fantasy tower defense franchise into a one-hit tabletop pocket RPG. For those of you who have never done a dungeon or dragon, this is a mini turn-based tactical RPG with roguelike elements. It could have been more confusing.
I ventured out as one of the six Legends of Kingdom Rush, aided by two of the 12 companions. Each character had their own role-based traits and accompanying actions to choose from. Agile characters maneuvered better on the battlefield. Tanks were slower, durable frontliners. Mages were glass cannons with armor piercing properties. Artisans specializing in area damage and summoning entities. The overall combat was fun but lacked depth beyond combining different character combos. Some of the most advanced moves relied on my past J&D experience, which felt like a treat at first, but it didn’t do much for the gameplay. The depth it had was stunted by the overall sense of balance centered around the trio of tutorials. As fun as the early characters were, I had enough of them by the end of the first adventure.
We traveled on routes that branched off from each other with no backtracking. Encounters were fights, shops, dice rolls, or chooseable events that could reward or harm party resources, such as loot, extra companions, upgrades, and status effects. There were different ways to handle non-combat encounters, but the options were removed if I didn’t have the correct characters. It was a shame, as the writing and presentation excelled at capturing the feel of old-school RPG storytelling.
All entities took turns fighting on a hexagonal grid based on initiative order. Most of the environment was repeatedly unrelated to combat. The thrill of maneuvering hazards, learning patterns, and proper positioning was limited to boss encounters, my favorite part. That being said, the boss fights were a whimsical, short-lived reprieve from a tiring hike, even on the intended difficulty. Most of the challenge came from the game, sometimes leaving out the boss information. Regardless of winning or losing, progress was always reset after a run.
The procedural content, however, started to feel incredibly similar after about… three runs. With revamped enemies, similarly constructed open arenas, and repurposed encounter outcomes, it lacked the vibrancy and replayability that a good roguelike needs. Starting over was an arduous process, which was extremely unfortunate when the game stopped and prohibited me from doing anything but giving up.
Visually, the game lacked important information. Health points were not displayed. Sometimes entire health bars wouldn’t appear, so I wasn’t sure if a character was targetable or not. Leveling up unlocked more abilities, but what that did to my base stats was left to find out. Measuring distance was quite a hassle for a game that relies on positioning as a core gameplay mechanic. Additionally, the endgame suffers from visual overload. Sometimes the screen was so cluttered that I couldn’t quite tell if I was standing in a safe place or sitting on an enemy’s lap.
Overall, it’s a small game that makes big boy decisions without doing any due diligence. If you want to try for yourself, Kingdom Rush Legends is available now on Apple Arcade and Steam for $14.99.
Watch the review in 3 minutes to Kingdom Rush Legends.