Generally, I’m not a huge fan of strategy games. I’m not great at thinking too far ahead and the typically slow pace doesn’t always bode well. But some strategy games – especially of the minimalist variety – are exactly my cup of tea. And Thronefall, out today in Early Access, might be my favourite yet.
It’s not really surprising that I’ve had such a great time with Thronefall. It’s developed by GrizzlyGames, the team behind the delightful and equally minimalist Islanders. Islanders had some strategy to it, but it was mostly a simplistic city builder. Placing buildings in the right place would see your islands thrive, allowing you to progress further through the game. Thronefall, on the other hand, is a strategic combat game, all about building up your town and protecting it each night from invaders. Think something like The Settlers, but far more minimalist.
Thronefall starts out nice and easy. With enough coins in your pocket, you can place a village centre, and it’s from here that your settlement will (hopefully) grow. By building houses and windmills, you can begin to earn coins, with more coins also up for grabs for defeating the enemies that come each night. As a lone warrior you can take them on yourself, but very quickly you’ll find yourself outnumbered and overpowered. And so you’ll want to build defensive structures, offensive towers and barracks so you can command armies to assist you in battle.
Well, I say “command”. Thronefall is minimalist after all, and so the most you can do is lead them to a specific location. Leaving them alone is a decent enough strategy, though: they’ll simply go and attack the closest enemies. As more coins roll in after each successful night, you’ll be able to upgrade your buildings and defences, making you ever stronger to the incoming attacks.
What I particularly like about Thronefall is how lenient it is. If enemies manage to knock down a tower or destroy a house, it’ll be automatically rebuilt the next morning. Sure, you won’t earn as much money, but it means you don’t have to waste any time rebuilding anything. The only building that’s irreplaceable is your headquarters: should your main building be destroyed, and it’s game over.
It’s a bit of a roguelite in that sense, then. If your HQ falls in Thronefall, your run is over with. Thankfully, permanent upgrades are unlocked depending how well you do. Manage to survive every night, and you’ll move on to the next level, where you’ll face a bigger, tougher challenge.
Of course, being in Early Access, Thronefall isn’t complete yet: it’ll remain in Early Access for the next 6-12 months. In that time, more levels will be added, as well as new perks and upgrades to unlock. But there’s plenty of content already – and with Thronefall available for such a budget price currently (£5.89/$6.99), you really can’t lose out. If you like the idea of an easy-going, simplistic strategy that still offers plenty of challenge, Thronefall is for you.