Having played the sequel on the Wii U at PAX 2014, I was excited to see how Swords & Soldiers HD held up to its younger brother. It’s not as fancy as the sequel, but still has all of the charm that grabbed me when I played Swords & Soldiers II. The factions feel different from each other and each need their own tactics to be played well. Without anymore babbling on, let’s get into it!
The Swords & Soldiers series come off as basic and cartoony. It’s almost a little too basic to grab my attention if I had just seen a video. This is another example of why you shouldn’t base your opinion on a game solely on looks. (I’m going to have to get over that since it appears that I’ve said that a lot lately.) I know it’s getting harder and harder to do with how graphics are shaping up these days, but with all this good content out there with simple graphic schemes, it’s important to try a game out before one blows it off completely.
So without all the fancy-schmancy HD-ness of its sequel, Swords & Soldiers HD focuses on fun gameplay with some deep gameplay/tactical decisions. You’ve got to carefully manage how you work your available options because the slightest misstep could cost you the game. (That sounds overly dramatic, but it has happened to me.) Do you need to create more gold miners or get some research done to build some fighters to apply pressure onto your opponent. What type of unit do you research first? Want a slow heavy-hitter or a ranged (but low HP) user? Eventually you’ll have everything researched, but you may find it in your best interest to not do everything up front lest you find yourself with all the options in the book, but no money or defenses when the enemy comes a-knocking.
All of the factions feel completely different and I like that. As impressed as I was that the sequel not have reskinned armies with the same abilities, the same applies here. You’ll obviously have a few units that play similar, but with enough differences to make you wish that your unit could either poison others or rush into fights. It’s give-and-take all while each army has their appeal and that’s what’s so great: having options. Not only are the units available different, but how your basic game mechanics work are also different. Everyone has passive mana regen, but how you get more differs from faction to faction.
The Aztecs have to sacrifice units in order to gain more mana faster. Personally, they are the hardest to play. I just can’t seem to strike the balance between building my army/defense and figuring out how to get the 350 mana needed to pull off my super move. I’m also not used to sacrificing my own units. The Chinese run almost similar to the Vikings except they abandon defensive towers in favor of towers that help regen mana quicker. I get it, and I’ve actually won matches as both factions, but two out of three factions just don’t do it for me. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that the Vikings look like Dwarves or that they are simple in execution. The Vikings are pretty straight forward: economy, defense, damage. I know that tends to be my thing, but I do believe no single game has pigeon-holed me so well into one specific faction.