CastleStorm: Definitive Edition (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 04.11.2014

Review for CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4

The new generation of consoles has brought with it the divisive phenomenon commonly referred to as the 'Definitive Edition.' Strangely, despite adding more choices for the game-starved public, this practice has its fair share of critics, with the main bone of contention being that the manpower required to polish up these older releases is deflecting resources from developing new games. Seeing as the alternative has a game fading away and being forgotten about as players migrate to the newer systems, it makes perfect business sense to update, polish, and bundle select titles, though, if only to ensure its availability for the lifespan of the following generation. Refreshingly Zen Studios, who has long been in the practice of releasing games on any device capable of running them, has shoehorned a TON of extra content for the recently released PlayStation 4 version of CastleStorm and has totally justified the 'Definitive Edition' tag in the process. However, is it worth a revisit for those who played it on the last generation of consoles?

Taking the game's title at its most literal should be fairly big indication of what CastleStorm is all about, with the crux of the story focusing on the eternal, raging battle between the noble Knights and the savage Vikings. The constant warring between the two factions saddened the Peace Goddess who just so happened to be watching from high up above and, in a moment of abject melancholy, cried two tears that turned into peace crystals upon hitting the ground. Amazingly these red and blue gems had a calming effect on the quarrelsome Knights and Vikings, bringing with it an end to the conflict that had lasted many moons, although, as everybody knows, peace makes for a pretty dull videogame. Unsurprisingly, after a few years of tranquillity, the warriors started to get a bit restless and hankered for the good old days of bashing each other over the head, so when one of the peace crystals gets stolen... well, basically normal service is resumed. It's just as well that these once sworn enemies had built castles within 500 yards of each other (hey come on... the game wouldn't work otherwise!).

Screenshot for CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4

Castlestorm: Definitive Edition is tricky to pin to one specific genre as it grabs its influences from a lot of familiar sources, casually tosses them into a blender with a good sized dollop of humour, flips the setting to 'Medieval' and whisks up a game far better than the sum of its parts would suggest. Zen itself describes it as a 'light-hearted action strategy game' but this tagline neglects to mention the physics-based destruction / tower defence / resource management / hack 'n slash elements that also play a big part in proceedings. The object of the game, as with the Wii U edition Cubed3 recently looked at, is simple: defend the castle against any and all attacks against it and, if the enemy's castle is within range, then it's advisable to retaliate in kind. To win a game, the player can either totally demolish the enemy's castle or capture the flag of the opposing team by breaking down the gate and sending troops in to retrieve it. With the campaign being split into numerous missions in differing locales there is a lot more variety on offer than this brief description would suggest and occasionally victory can rely on a meeting specific objectives to progress.

It's fair to say that CastleStorm bears more than a passing resemblance to the ubiquitous Angry Birds franchise as, similarly, the play area is presented as a 'side-on' profile that can be scrolled around and zoomed in / panned out of. Carefully aiming a shot and then watching a wonderfully detailed cross-section view of the enemy's castle crumble internally when a projectile strikes home never ceases to get old. Central to the arsenal at hand is the Ballista, a medieval weapon of fair-to-medium destruction that is used to catapult a variety of missiles, such as Arrows, Morningstars, Apple Grenades, Explosive Sheep, and Homing Eagles (amongst others), all of which can be utilised to either demolish the opposing team's fortress or cut a swathe through the ever-advancing enemy troops. This, of course, adds the physics-based destruction element into the mix and while the Ballista is fairly lethal in the right hands, it doesn't discriminate and will crack all heads equally, meaning the more gung-ho gamers out there are just as likely to take down friendly troops as they are foes.

Screenshot for CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4

CastleStorm is far from just being another agitated avian wannabe though, as in addition to the Ballista there is also a selection of armed troops of varying classes, ranging from archers and swordsmen to donkey-riding soldiers that can be sent out to the battleground to automatically engage with the opposition and, if possible, capture the enemy flag. If the action starts to get particularly hairy, it is possible to jump directly into the fray and, for a limited time period, take control of the noble Sir Gareth (a fine heroic name if ever there was one), which can greatly help alleviate the pressure. As if all that wasn't enough, the ability to employ supernatural forces to aid victory via the casting of a selection of spells over the enemy can also help tip the balance of the struggle in favour of the participant. The majority of the items (Ballista projectiles other than arrows / troops / spells / Sir Gareth) are subject to 'cool-down times' that turns the gameplay into a tactical exercise in plate spinning, as having to both attack AND defend at the same time whilst juggling the available resources will put even the most efficient tactician to the test. Much like a traditional tower defence title, any item that can be used against the enemy has the capacity to be levelled up using the gold coins looted from dead adversaries.

On the remote chance there's a repressed fortress builder lurking deep within then CastleStorm can help scratch that itch, too, by offering the opportunity to construct a stronghold that can be used both in the campaign and multiplayer. It's not just for cosmetic purposes either as these user-made castles can actually help influence the resources available during the course of a battle. For instance, sticking an architect's office in the castle and levelling it up results in stronger castle walls, a higher level armoury will increase the attack strength of friendly troops and a treasury room will give a gold bonus at the end of the battle providing, of course, it remains intact. Obviously, there is a selection of pre-made castles available for those who don't feel inclined to get creative but it's a nice little touch that adds an additional tactical consideration when taking the battle online.

Screenshot for CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4

For those soloists out there, a fairly lengthy, light-hearted campaign with a humorous story that practically encourages replaying levels over again is included, with the addition of objectives to aim for, as well as rating the performance out of five. Skirmish mode is effectively a 'Quick Play' option that allows a battleground previously unlocked from the campaign to be chosen, customised in terms of the settings, and then swiftly jumped into for the upcoming fight. There are two Survival modes, the first of which sees the friendly castle under siege from a seemingly never-ending stream of enemies that get increasingly stronger and the player is tasked with keeping them out for as long as possible. The second survival mode (Hero Survival) involves just Sir Gareth (or one of his alternatives) hacking and slashing his way through waves of foot soldiers, all trying to steal the flag from under his nose. Admittedly, this mode feels slightly tacked on when playing alone and probably won't get much use after the initial foray, yet when tackling it with a co-operative partner, it does make it a bit more interesting.

In addition to the multiplayer version of Hero Survival there is the classic 'Versus' mode that gives each player a castle to defend, along with access to the full arsenal of equipment / troops / spells, and plays similarly to the battles in the campaign with the winner decided by the complete demolition of the opponent's fortress or by capturing their flag. The multiplayer version of Survival is a co-operative experience that sees one player in charge of the Ballista / troops and spells, whilst the other player permanently prowls the battlefield as the hero character. CastleStorm's multiplayer mode can be played either split-screen locally or via the standard suite of online Quickplay / Ranked / Private matchmaking options.

Screenshot for CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

CastleStorm: Definitive Edition on PlayStation 4 is quite the time sink, and Zen Studios is to be commended for re-working a few proven, familiar play mechanics and binding them together to create an original, polished experience that feels fresh and is, most importantly, fun to play.

Developer

Zen Studios

Publisher

Zen Studios

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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