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Siegecraft Commander PC review

Siegecraft Commander
Siegecraft Commander

Time was spent, towers flung and built, spells cast and knights and lizards stabbed and exploded. Here are some thoughts.

Siegecraft Commander is a real-time strategy/tower defence/thing flinger game developed and published by Australian indie team Blowfish Studios. The game released for the iPhone and iPad, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam with included VR support.

AltCharSiegecraft Commander - Serpentine tower deploymentSiegecraft Commander - Serpentine tower deployment

Siegecraft Commander revolves around a very interesting concept, on paper at least. Matches start out with a single central structure and players must expand and construct their fortress by flinging buildings away from the central structure, which are then automatically connected by impassable walls. Troops spawned from dedicated buildings then navigate through a network of lanes that emerges based on the way players choose to construct their fortifications. Units move towards the nearest enemy structure on their own while the player is busy building towards and bombarding the enemy base and structures. In theory this would create a Angry Birds influenced 3D MOBA/TD experience with players rushing to construct their lanes towards each other and pushing in the direction of the opponents base centre. In theory.

AltCharSiegecraft Commander - Take aim!Siegecraft Commander - Take aim!

In practice, matters are a little more clunky. I frequently missed or failed to properly range my flings because the projectile and structure flinging system provides preciously small amounts of information about where your previous shot landed and how to better aim your next one. On top of that, base to base bombardment is a hectic affair. A single missed shot will often doom your planned assault to failure, because destroying a linking outpost structure requires just two direct hits. Overextending your base is strongly discouraged by the game's mechanics, as the loss of an outpost will cause the entirety of your fortification radiating out from that spot to go boom. It's quite spectacular when you can achieve it against your enemy, intensely infuriating when you find yourself on the receiving end.

More often than not, you will find that your AI opponents are a lot more calm under fire than you are, and able to block your progress entirely, until you dig in at a certain spot, block your opponents progress with defensive turrets in turn and start looking for another way around. This can also be difficult because of the way your network of fortifications develops. There is usually little room left for a plan B, unless you specifically planned for one further back in the construction of your base, as walls cannot overlap and room for construction is often scarce. An additional cause of frustration is the constant possibility of blocking the passage of your own troops. This calls for a LOT of planning ahead and/or a trial and error play style, with frequent visits to the main menu - in search for the restart button.

AltCharSiegecraft Commander -  Come and get someSiegecraft Commander - Come and get some

In spite of all the chaos and frustration, victory still manages to feel like a hard earned achievement, despite the few instances in which my troops managed to bypass the opponents defences, push through and destroy an enemy base, while I was at the other end of the map playing Tug-of-war with the AI over a bridge or some narrow pass.

The story, sound and graphics of the game are fairly "standard". A bit of unoffensive wit will carry you through a story that is little more than a simple justification to get you from level to level, with little to no narrative ambition behind it. But that is certainly not a major point, since the developers haven't set out to spin a multi part epic, but rather entertain in short mission sized chunks.

AltCharSiegecraft Commander - Barrels of BoomSiegecraft Commander - Barrels of Boom

A lot of the game's design seems to have been focused around the potential the mechanics might have in multiplayer. Sadly, at the time of writing, the game's PC lobby was too deserted for me to find out how the game holds up with another human being on the other side of the battlements. The custom game and multiplayer modes also have a turn-based option, which removes a lot of the hectic involved, but seems like a rather clumsy attempt to mitigate the previously mentioned flinging control issues.

All in all, Siegecraft Commander is a refreshing experiment and an interesting twist on various mechanics within the genres it covers. It often irritates, but can feel quite rewarding once you have a solid grasp of its controls. While the asking price of roughly £15 isn't too steep, I would still suggest getting it during a Steam sale. If you are inclined to do so, it is 30 per cent off with Steam at the time of writing.