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Castle Invasion: Throne Out Review

Catch a glance over my shoulder whilst I’m playing Castle Invasion: Throne Out, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as little more than a flash game of old.

To the untrained eye this unfortunate scenario is most definitely a likely one, with Castle Invasion: Throne Out being the latest in a long line of tower defence games that doesn’t particularly “wow” you in the presentation department, instead relying on its addictive yet quite shallow gameplay to make it an experience worth trying.

Whilst most well-rounded gamers will know that pretty graphics do not necessarily mark the merit of a great game, it’s hard to ignore when immediately loading it up that Castle Invasion: Throne Out isn’t particularly alluring from an artistic point of view. The various misfit NPCs and enemy characters featured in the game are sure enough all brimming full of charm and personality, but for a game that places you in only one location for its entire duration, it’s disappointing that a bit more creativity isn’t present in terms of style.

It is then however, with regards to gameplay and progression, a good thing that there is at least a little more depth when peeking under the hood. Although a simple tower (or in this case castle) defence game by its nature, Castle Invasion: Throne Out plays out rather enjoyably across its 50 specifically-crafted levels. As one lowly rogue who refuses to give in to the king’s demands, you find yourself thwarting off wave after wave of eclectic enemy characters, from the ever so light on their feet dwarves to the hulkingly slow yet dangerous black knights.

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Much as you’d expect, the further along you progress throughout Castle Invasion: Throne Out’s 50 bitesize levels, the harder and harder it becomes to repel the king’s forces and defend your castle. Cat Trap Studios as the developers of the game have done a pretty decent job in keeping the difficulty fair and balanced, with each level feeling different enough to make you tempted to go back and grind in order to upgrade either your speed, weapons or distance abilities. Not for long though.

“An upgrade system?” I hear you cry. Well yes, but don’t expect anything too deep or complex. Every time you take down an enemy with either your arrows or spears during your defence, each baddie will drop coins whose value is determined by the level of combo you’ve managed to build up. Once a level has been completed you can visit the local shop and upgrade accordingly. It’s a competent yet unexciting system that gives the game some degree of additional depth, but the combination of this as well as specific level challenges never does too much to extend the game’s length following the fiftieth level’s completion.

It all comes down to the fact that Castle Invasion: Throne Out is a tower defence game that in no way demands the need to be played on the big screen. Although available for download on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, Vita is where the game really finds its home in being great for short gameplay bursts either on your daily commute or before you go to sleep. This unfortunately means that Castle Invasion: Throne Out will be fighting for your attention from a plethora of much more accessible smartphone games, a battle which it’s unlikely to win.

If I had to describe Castle Invasion: Throne Out in just one word it would merely be “fine”, but that doesn’t mean that the short-but-sweet, arcadey experience it provides isn’t a welcome one. If you enjoy score-chasing, levelling and some seriously hard enemy waves towards the latter halves of your games, Castle Invasion: Throne Out is a neat little package. Already judging by the game’s title you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the game has its fair share of puns, so a chuckle is never too far away either.

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Castle Invasion: Throne Out is the perfect example of “the little indie studio that could”; it’s a fun and enjoyable title for what it is without any bugs or game-breaking mechanics, but it’s only whet my appetite further to see what developer Cat Trap Studios will come out with next. For now however, Castle Invasion: Throne Out simply doesn’t do enough to tempt me away from the similar experiences available on my smartphone, unfortunately never evolving into anything other than a neat little tower defence game with a big heart that doesn’t demand too much of your time.

Castle Invasion: Throne Out is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and PS Vita. We reviewed the PS4 version.
When Aaron isn't busting out his parents' old Sega Megadrive and playing way too much Mortal Kombat II in an attempt to re-live the classic days, he usually spends his days up to his neck podcasting about movies, covering events and of course writing about video games. Primed to take on anyone who critiques the genius of 2005's Timesplitters: Future Perfect, Aaron is the epitome of the term "Pop Culture Nerd" with the collection of comics, games and statues to prove it.