Kingdom Rush Origins (Android) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 21.05.2015

Review for Kingdom Rush Origins on Android

Ironhide Games has extraordinary customer service and exceptional support for their games. For that reason alone, their games are worth a look, but there are other reasons: Ironhide Games produces, without a doubt, the best tower defense games available on phones, but the Kingdom Rush games stand well on any platform. Silly humour, awesome gameplay, unlockables, and a steady trickle of new content (some games years after release) makes Ironhide a studio worth following. Does the team's Kingdom Rush: Origins stack up? Read on for the Android review.

In keeping with the general gaming trend of following a sequel with a prequel, as its name implies, Kingdom Rush: Origins takes the series' story back to the beginning and to the elves, but the story is really tangential to the whole thing; it's likely that the majority of players don't know or care what their motivation is when it comes to tower defense, as demonstrated by the masterpiece Orcs Must Die! 2. If players care, there is a story here, but it's like Super Mario Bros. on NES: did many care to learn the in-game explanation for the breakable blocks?

Surprisingly, Kingdom Rush: Origins is not a "Tower Defense Lite." There is a ton of complexity, nuance, and difficulty here, though familiarity with the series substantially decreases the challenge. Variety is the key to success, and knowing this one secret neuters difficulty.

In what is likely to be the most literal interpretation of the genre name, Kingdom Rush: Origins consists of building defensive towers while enemies charge stupidly along obvious paths to try to reach their goal. Ideally, the towers will reduce the enemy survival rate to zero, but emergency tools like the Lightning Bolt, Reinforcements, and a summoned creature ease some of the pressure.

Screenshot for Kingdom Rush Origins on Android

There are only four tower types to be built: barracks, mage, archer, and druid, the last of which takes the place of artillery for Kingdom Rush: Origins. Each of these basic towers can be upgraded twice, at which point one of two specialisations can be purchased. These upgrades are purchased with coins, which are dropped by defeated enemies, along with gems, and this allows the player to slowly craft the battlefield to their liking over the course of a stage. The end result is mesmerising: watching monsters be massacred by spell effects, arrows, spears, demons, and whatever else that's been constructed is very satisfying.

Each stage has three parts: the campaign level, the Heroic Challenge, and the Iron Challenge. Although all of these can be brutal on Veteran difficulty, Heroic mode throws six very intense waves at the later, and the Iron Challenge consists of one massive wave. In addition, the Heroic and Iron Challenges impose restrictions, such as "No Hero" and "No Archers or Mages," which certainly destroy any comfort zone.

Speaking of heroes, only a few are available in-game, and most have to be purchased with real money if they're desired. These aren't required, and some of them are breaking, but the option to pay more for the game in order to have all heroes unlocked, versus spending far more to purchase them individually, would be fantastic. Imagine if Square Enix sold the Android port of Final Fantasy IV for only one dollar, but then required in-app purchases to get most of the Augments. Although in-app purchases allow games to be sold cheaper, and sometimes given away, the overall experience of the game suffers by definition, and when massive imbalances are caused by the premium content, as is the case here, it becomes "pay to win."

Nowhere is this better shown than in the Endless stage, which rewards points for enemy deaths, as well as gold and gems. There is a ranking ladder for this stage, but allowing the usage of items, many of which are insanely overpowered and all of which can be purchased for real money, eliminates any fun that could be had, because someone could just pay and climb their way to the top.

Screenshot for Kingdom Rush Origins on Android

Gems are awarded on a mostly fixed basis; specific enemies in each stage award gems when they are killed, and the gems are then used to purchase helpful items in the store, in lieu of cash. Although this can allow a particularly difficult stage to be overcome, the number of gems earned by playing the game doesn't stack well against the cost of items and the price of gems in real money.

Lastly, there are upgrades to be purchased with stars, and stars are awarded by playing the campaign. Successfully completing the Heroic and Iron Challenge of a stage will award one star each, and up to three can be earned from the main campaign level, depending on how many enemies survive the player's defenses. This is a nice touch, though many of these permanent upgrades feel like they have no impact, and not many are very interesting in the first place.

Kingdom Rush: Origins boasts a lot of stages, and each stage contains three parts, some of which are extremely challenging. It's off-putting that these challenges can be overcome easily by greasing a few palms, though. That's entirely optional, though, and Kingdom Rush: Origins isn't designed to force players to dump their life savings onto in-app purchases. The heroes, of course, are an exception to that, because some are ridiculously and prohibitively expensive, going up to seven and eight USD for a character that will only break the game anyway.

Screenshot for Kingdom Rush Origins on Android

Even though Kingdom Rush: Origins stands very much as a full and complete game, new stages and heroes are on the way. Ironhide has been occasionally releasing new content for the other two Kingdom Rush games sporadically for years, and that's remarkable for a game with no subscription fees.

Kingdom Rush: Origins is, by a wide margin, the blandest entry in the series, but it's still a good and fun game. Too little was changed from its predecessors, and what was changed was also arbitrary and inconsequential, leaving this game much less enjoyable than Kingdom Rush: Frontiers. It feels a little like Ironhide phoned it in, but they're better than that; it's likelier they just didn't want to risk alienating fans with changes that were too drastic.

There is every reason to buy Kingdom Rush: Origins, even for those who rabidly devoured the other two in the series. It's not as good as either of those, but it is still a great experience. Newcomers would likely love it more, but it's an old hat to long-time players and feels more like a mission pack than a new game.

Screenshot for Kingdom Rush Origins on Android

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Kingdom Rush: Origins languishes in the shadows of its predecessors, and it doesn't do enough to try to break away from what has come before. Minor graphical and story changes keep this entry firmly behind Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, but it isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, unenjoyable. In fact, Kingdom Rush: Origins is a superb game, but there is nothing new except heroes that are more expensive than they really should be. These keep the price tag lower, though, and that low price tag justifies buying it, even for those who thoroughly completed the others.


Ironhide Game Studio


Ironhide Game Studio





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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