Remember those old card-based battling games? Wait, they still exist!? Well now, that’s just swell.
Strongholds is essentially an electronic card-based military base battling game. (CBMBBG?!) The game play is simple, yet still complex enough to be interesting and fun. Your base (the one of the bottom) is pitted against the enemy across a canyon river. Your object can be one of the following: 1. Destroy your opponents base building by reducing it’s health to zero. 2. Build up your base’s health to 70 (default number that can be changed) in order to launch a nuke which destroys your opponent and ends the game.
You accomplish these tasks by drawing and playing the various cards in your hand. You hold 6 at a time, and whenever you play a card, a new one is received. In order to play different cards, you have to spend resources from one (or more) of your three, um, resource-getters. This consists of a factory, armory, and barracks. Based on how well you build them up, they will each give you different resources at the start of each turn. Should you focus on building up your economy, or on spending as much as possible to defeat your opponent? Both strategies can work in their own way, which offers some good variety to each game you play, depending on how you choose to tackle the opponent.
The main bass has a wall that also has health. Various attacks will surpass the wall (like mortars), but if you want to do the most damage, you take down the wall first. Some cards change their effect based on what you or your opponent has. Some will do more damage if your wall is stronger, while others will equalize your wall, factory, etc if they are lower than your opponents. There was certainly a lot of effort and thought put into designing this game, as the cards don’t feel unbalanced at all.
The look of the game, along with the interface are very polished. You can drag a card to the center of the screen to play, or tap it and do it manually. There are nice effects when you attack, and you can see damage, along with upgrades, on the buildings. This is all static imagery though. No openGL action here. Still, you don’t really need incredible visuals for this game to be fun. For what it has, it works well, and looks very polished. The sound isn’t incredible, but it works well.
There are really only two problems with this game. It has online leaderboards, as well as a decent amount of settings so you can choose how you play the game. However, it only has two game modes: easy and normal. I was beaten once the first time I played the game (and didn’t know what I was doing), but after learning how to play from the great in-game tutorial, I never lost a game again. There really needs to be at least another two levels of difficulty for advanced players. And how about a campaign? Different maps to play?
Ok, I suppose there are more than two problems. The biggest one is the complete lack of any multiplayer. Even simple wifi support would be welcome, as this is certainly the type of games my friends and I would play when we got together to hang out. Pass and play would also be better than nothing… but I’m not a big fan.
Presentation & Graphics
Quite polished for an independent pickup-and-play title. Wish there were varied “maps” to play on. Overall effects are quite impressive though, especially the river and the nuke launch.
Other than not having any battle music as an option, the sound is great.
Very fun, with a lot of different ways to win. Sometimes games are short and sweet, other times they are long and drawn out. The game does a good job of auto-saving if you have to go. Unfortunately the game needs much more variety, as the game can get stale after a few games.
Only 2 difficulties? No multiplayer? Single player campaign? Luckily Strongholds is fun enough to still be played despite it’s lack of longevity as a fully featured game. But it really needs these features! Otherwise it’s easy to forget after just a few run-throughs.
Strongholds is certainly an impressive and fun game, but it lacks features that would make it a full and rich package and experience. But for 99 cents, it’s more than worth the buy for any strategy game fans out there! Add a campaign, multiple maps, and multiplayer, and this game could easily sell for $5 or more and be worth it.