Review: CastleStorm (PS3/PSV/PSTV)

Review: CastleStorm (PS3/PSV/PSTV)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play Yes
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: CastleStorm
Format: PlayStation Network Download (533 MB)
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
CastleStorm is also available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PS4 coverage of CastleStorm: Definitive Edition.

Other Platform Reviews For This Game:
Review: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PS4) Review: CastleStorm VR (PSVR)

For a studio that has a pedigree in excellent video game pinball tables, it seemed strange at first for them to stray so far from their soft and plump comfort zone. To make a game that melds several different gameplay mechanics, styles and action to form an almost new genre.

Gameplay:
The main focus is to keep the hoards of enemies away from your castle gates. If broken, they have the opportunity to steal your precious flag and take it back across the battlefield to their castle, which means you lose.

All the while your castle is slowly being smashed apart by projectiles from the enemy, and if it’s destroyed, you lose. To fight back, the most important weapon in your arsenal is the ballista which can launch various projectiles at the enemy troops or the opposing castle.

Firing this weapon takes precision and skill, using the left analog stick to aim and the ever popular Cross button to fire. You’ll have to account for enemy movement and distance, which isn’t as hard as you think.

There is also the matter of castle design, which you’ll need to master eventually as getting by on the ready made ones will only get you so far. In a finite space you have to construct your castle that’ll house many different kinds of rooms.

You’ll need barracks to be able to spawn troops along with pantries for faster food generation that allows for troop spawn rates to increase. There is even a recruiting office to increase the army size. All of this needs protecting from whatever the enemy can throw at it so shielding them with different walls or inconsequential rooms is key to success.

It becomes a brilliant balancing act, and the smallest detail can totally change a battle. I was struggling on one particular area where I had to get a group of men into the mines halfway across the open battlefield.

Every man I sent out would get taken out in a wave of arrows, until the enemy sent out a huge lumbering Goliath and I luckily remembered I had a Potion of Conversion tucked away for a rainy day.

Well the heavens had opened in this battle so a stunningly good shot hit the monster in the head. The brute turned and decimated the enemy, allowing me to send out the group on a leisurely stroll. It’s moments like that which makes this game so great.

2013-11-06-162032 2013-11-06-161700 2013-11-06-161655

A welcome part of CastleStorm is the upgrades, which can be applied to almost every single troop, weapon and room. All of these can help defeat the enemy, especially when you revisit an earlier level with new additions to your army and weapons upgraded to monstrous proportions.

Now when I first had the power to deploy a wide array of weapons and troops at the same time during battle, I struggled with the controls. Not because they were awkward or complicated, but strangely because they were too simple and logical. It sounds bizarre, but my old gamer brain kept trying to confuse the situation.

It became so easy to fire a volley of spears, send out some troops and use a spell within a few short seconds. My only problem with the game can be found with the aiming sensitivity and a lack of being able to adjust it. You can however use the directional pad to make finer adjustments but in the heat of battle it becomes annoying to do so.

Visuals:
The game has appealing, colorful cartoonish graphics with a nice attention to detail. The scenery is great as you’ll find everything from a nice little babbling brook shimmering in the afternoon sun to a spooky wood with a possessed tree and giant spider.

All the levels are beautifully designed with a luscious attention to detail and charm that are quickly becoming a staple of Zen Studios design. It’s very reminiscent of the Epic Quest table from Zen Pinball 2, which is one of my favorites.

It is very satisfying to watch the enemy castle being smashed apart using some real time physics which look great on both the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. It helps that you can pan and zoom the camera at any time during battle and never experience any slowdown or stuttering even when there are loads of things going on at once.

The game is playable in 2D or 3D, but to enjoy stereoscopic 3D features, I require a 3D TV that supports a stereoscopic display and compatible 3D glasses, none of which I have. [Insert sad face here]

castlestorm-troops-and-hero

Audio:
A few smatterings of voice work can be found scattered about the story which is largely told with on screen text as funny little cut scenes play out. The troops will shout out the occasional comment, some of which made me chuckle.

Musically this game surprised me, the standards are high and even my wife commented on the quality and attaining her high standards is quite a feat.

Online/Multiplayer:
There is online multiplayer which is comprised of Versus, Survival and Hero Survival. Each has their own custom, ranked or quick match types. I could only find people playing in the ranked matches and each game I played was smooth without any problems.

Some of the players use the standard castles but most have built some crazy structures which take plenty of well timed hits to even make a dent. I’m glad it has an online component but probably won’t spend much time in it.

Conclusion:
With a surprisingly enjoyable single player campaign that slowly introduces a feast of choices, from weapons, spells, troops and castle design there is plenty here to unlock and upgrade. It may take a little bit of time to get used to the controls but when you do, it can be some of the most satisfying feeling of skill and precision found in any game.

CastleStorm is an unexpected delight which mashes everything together to give us a very different enjoyable little game. I assumed it would be a quick pointless story and a few forgettable little modes but it ended up being a brilliantly entertaining story mode with plenty of extras to keep you coming back for more.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to level up a few more of my troops and have a go at getting the maximum five stars on a few more levels.

Score: 
9.0

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

* Screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature or provided by the publisher.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

If you send a friend request please add ‘PS Nation’ in the subject area.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook