I spend a lot of time every day riding the train….a lot of time. As in, two hours a day, each way. That is quite a bit of time to spend alone with my iPad…and the iTunes App Store. So, anytime I come across some kind of hidden gem in the app store, I like to take a minute to share it here with our readers. Not long ago, I came across Medieval HD, a truly gorgeous take on the tower defense genre. A few emails later, and the fine folks at Brisk Mobile were kind enough to send along a copy of the full version of the game for review.
The basic premise of the game is pretty simple. You are defending a castle. At the beginning of the game, your only weapon is a giant crossbow on top of your turret. Now, queue the onslaught, as waves of enemy forces rush your castle, attempting to either capture your flag and drag it away (you must protect that) or break through your castle’s walls. Your job is to stop the onslaught by firing your crossbow at the advancing army. Destroy them all and you will win the level and advance to the next stage. The only problem I had here, however, was that there is no indication of how many enemies remain, so you never have really know how close you are to winning. The addition of a counter or meter showing how many enemies remain would make this a much more enjoyable game.
Each time you hit an enemy, you will earn money (the better the shot, the more money you will earn). At any time, you can tap the upgrade money and purchase upgraded artillery, soldiers, or defenses for your castle. I really liked the fact that you can upgrade your forces at any time. No need to wait until a break in the action or in between levels. I did find, however, that the cost of the upgrades rises pretty quickly, though the amount of money earned does not rise proportionately, meaning after the first few levels, the upgrades can be few and far between.
So, let’s take a look at the upgrades which are available. First are the upgrades to the arrows you fire out of the crossbow, which is your main weapon. In addition to the standard arrow, you can purchase a fire arrow (sets fire on contact), multi-arrow (fires multiple arrows at once), bomb arrow (explodes on contact), health arrow (heals allies and repairs your castle) or the pierce arrow (penetrates multiple enemies). Advance far enough and you can combine the multi-arrow and fire arrow together and fire the multi-fire arrow. Once purchased, any of these arrows can be further upgraded, in order to increase their effectiveness. You can choose to use any of these arrows at any time after you have purchased the upgrade, however, plan their use judiciously, because once fired, they will each take some time to recharge.
In addition to increasing your fire power, you can also build an army to help defend your castle. In addition to regular swordsman, there are also heavily armed axe-men, cavalry on horses, and archers. You can also purchase boulders to throw at your enemies, as well as the ultimate weapon…the catapult. You can order as large an army as you need (after you have purchased the appropriate resources), though each unit will cost money.
Finally, you can also upgrade your own castle, in order to make things a bit more difficult for your enemies attacking your castle. Upgrades include stockades, hot oil, and towers for archers.
These upgrades really helped keep the game fresh, but at the end of the day, the upgrades were simply too few, and too difficult to earn. Money is not an easy commodity to come by, and there are too many ways to use it. It would be nice if the money you earned increased as you faced more challenging enemies, or if the game included other means of earning money. These would help keep your rate of upgrade consistent with the difficulty of the enemies you face, and significantly reduce the frustration level once you advance beyond the initial levels.
Before wrapping up this review, I would be remiss if I did not at least say a word about the graphics in this game, which are absolutely stunning. To be honest, I could probably just sit and stare at the background images with no action on the screen at all, and be perfectly happy. Fortunately, we do not have to do that.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game. When I first stated playing, I was a little concerned that the repetitive motion would get old after a while, but I never tired of the action. The upgrades kept the game fresh, although I found the cost of the upgrade rose far too steeply for the amount of money earned during the game. Still, this is a fantastically playable (and watchable) game, which I continue to thoroughly enjoy.
Medieval HD is available in the iTunes App Store for $2.99 (though you can also test it out for free with the Lite version). There is also an iPhone/iPod Touch version which is currently on sale for $0.99.