Review: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PS4)

Review: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PS4)

Title: CastleStorm: Definitive Edition
Format: PlayStation Network Download (533 MB)
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £14.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
CastleStorm: Definitive Edition is also available on Xbox One and Wii U.
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 PS3/PSV/PSTV coverage of CastleStorm.

Other Platform Reviews For This Game:
Review: CastleStorm (PS3/PSV/PSTV) 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 in order to make a game that melds action with several different gameplay mechanics and styles to form an almost new genre.

But it worked as they released the original CastleStorm on the PS3 and Vita with Cross-Buy and now, almost a year later they have a Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4.

Gameplay:
The main focus in CastleStorm is to keep the hoards of enemies away from your castle gates. If the gates are 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.

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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.

For example, you’ll need barracks to be able to spawn troops along with pantries for faster food generation allowing the troop spawning rate 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 make this game so great.

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You can also send out a hero which you personally control. For a limited amount of time they can hack and slash at the enemies or even fire their own projectiles. You can cast spells to make a particular troop invincible for a short time or heal your army.

With so many ways of defeating the opposing army it all boils down to how you like to play and which tactics work for that particular moment.

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 or better protect the castle and troops. This helps greatly, 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.

castlestorm-troops-and-hero

It sounds bizarre, but my old gamer brain kept trying to confuse the situation. It eventually became 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 original game could be found with the aiming sensitivity and a lack of being able to adjust it. Now I find the DualShock 4 to feel a little tighter and easier to control. You can also use the directional pad to make finer adjustments but I still forget to do this, even now after all this time.

This Definitive Edition of the game features the entire original campaign as well as both DLC packs, “From Outcast to Savior” and “Warrior Queen”. There is also some new content including new battles, modes, spells, and features which is fantastic for people who never experienced the original on the older PlayStation consoles.

Some of you that already own the original might find it hard to justify another purchase, especially if you also have the DLC which is now included in this edition.

Visuals:
CastleStorm is filled with 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.

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It’s very satisfying to watch the enemy castle being smashed apart using some real-time physics which look very nice and smooth on the PlayStation 4. 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 also playable in stereoscopic 3D which looks fantastic, the level layout suits 3D perfectly and the action looks great. It adds a decent amount of depth to the levels and works very well.

With so few PlayStation 4 titles supporting 3D, I’m very happy to see it here. The visuals have also been upgraded to the new so-called ‘next-gen standard’ of 1080p and 60 frames per second. Which I’ll have to admit, does look very crisp and clean.

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 cutscenes play out. The troops will shout out the occasional comment, some of which made me chuckle.

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

You’ll get the occasional congratulatory message from the DualShock 4 speaker when you perform a nice shot or when you drop the other team’s flag. It isn’t constant and is a nice use of the somewhat under used feature.

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 and 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.

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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 feelings of skill and precision found in any game.

CastleStorm is an unexpected delight which mashes everything together to give us a very different and 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.

For those of you that own the original CastleStorm game on the PS3 and/or Vita this might not have enough new content for you, especially if you also have the two DLC expansions. I’m glad to this little gem come to the PlayStation 4 in what is exactly what the developers promised, the Definitive Edition.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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