Bargain priced games on the indie marketplace are often some of my favorites. When a game costs as much as a cup of coffee, I go into it with low expectations and tend to be pleasantly surprised. Castle Invasion: Throne Out, a stand-your-ground/tower defense/pun simulator, easily won me over by being a high quality game in nearly every aspect. This is something AAA developers charging full price can rarely seem to do; yet virtually unknown developer Cat Trap Studios manages to do it for just $4.99.
As a new castle owner in the kingdom, your life is looking pretty good. All our main character wants is to relax and live a carefree life. Unfortunately, the King catches wind of the new castle and demands it be turned over to him. You try to talk down your new home by claiming it to be asbestos ridden and haunted by dead racoons, but the King is smarter than he looks. He has ordered his minions to attack the castle and it’s up to you to defend it across 50 fun stages.
Movement is as simple as pressing up and down on the analog stick or directional pad. With your trusty bow you fire arrows across the screen and take out the enemies as they approach the castle. Enemies appear from the top, bottom and middle parts of the screen edge, meaning you constantly have to keep moving and shooting. As you make your way from stage to stage you will unlock new weapons such as the spear and the crossbow. The spear is great for armored enemies like knights and bosses, but it has a slow rate of fire. The crossbow fires quickly but doesn’t do as much damage as the regular bow or spear. Every time you kill an enemy it will drop a coin, and as long as the castle doesn’t take damage a multiplier will grow. As the multiplier increases, the value of the dropped coins will also increase.
Collecting coins is an important part of Castle Invasion: Throne Out, they are needed to upgrade your weapons and abilities. After an enemy drops a coin you can collect it by shooting it. Thankfully the weapon will keep going and collect multiple coins and attack any enemies in its path. This is great because you won’t have to choose between collecting coins and killing enemies. Weapons can have different attributes upgraded like: range, reload speed and firing speed, among others. Your character can also upgrade his movement speed and weapon switching speed. Upgrades are priced appropriately and whenever I couldn’t beat a level I just replayed some earlier missions and beefed up my weaponry.
There is a nice variety in enemy types which really requires different strategies. Dwarfs are fast runners who will reach your castle quickly, but they only take one shot from the bow (2 from the crossbow) to kill. Peasants are your regular enemies which take a few hits before dying and knights take multiple hits from only a spear to take down. As you get further along more enemies appear like nimble ninjas, wizards, bomb-throwing jesters and tunneling gardeners. I really enjoyed the variety of enemies and the fact that they are so cute makes the game fun and family friendly.
I won’t spend much time talking about the graphics; they are simple, clean and sharp. The music is whimsical during menus and can get more intense during battles. Levels load and reload quickly, meaning little wasted time during a play session. Some levels take place at night, meaning in order to see enemies approach you must shoot fire arrows at torches. There are also speed levels where you can control the speed of the enemy’s approach, with the goal being to finish the level as quickly as possible. And of course there is a challenging boss fight after every 10 levels. You can earn up to 3 stars in every level for completing various tasks. Some examples are: use every weapon, don’t let a knight damage the castle or use only a specific weapon. It may sound challenging but I found it easy to earn three stars in most levels with little difficulty.
I’ve had a blast playing through Castle Invasion: Throne Out, it really checks all the boxes of a good game. The levels are challenging but not frustrating, the dialog is quite funny, controls are spot on and I love the art style. When you combine these things with a $4.99 price tag, it’s easy to recommend Castle Invasion: Throne Out to gamers young and old.