Legends of Kingdom Rush is Ironhide Game Studio’s latest restructuring of its fantasy tower defense franchise into a tabletop one-shot pocket RPG. For those of you who have never dungeoned or dragoned, it’s a mini tactical turn-based grid RPG with roguelike elements. That might’ve been more confusing.
I adventured as one of six Kingdom Rush Legends aided by two of 12 Companions. Each character had its own role-based traits and accompanying actions to choose from. Agile characters maneuvered the battlefield better. Tanks were slower, durable frontliners. Mages were glass cannons with armor piercing properties. Crafters specialized in area-of-effect damage and summoning entities. General combat was amusing but lacked depth beyond combining different character combos. Some of the more advanced moves relied on my past D&D experience, which felt like a treat at first, but it did little for the gameplay. The depth it did have was stunted by overall balance feeling centered around the tutorial trio. As fun as the beginning characters were, I had my fill by the end of the first adventure.
We traveled on routes that branched off from one another with no backtracking. Encounters were fights, shops, dice rolls, or make-your-choice events that could reward or harm the party’s resources, such as loot, extra companions, upgrades, and status effects. There were different ways to deal with non-combat encounters, but options were taken away if I didn’t have the right characters. Twas a shame, because the writing and presentation excelled in capturing the old-school RPG storytelling feel.
All entities took turns fighting on a hex-grid based on initiative order. Most of the environment was repetitively irrelevant to the combat. The thrill of maneuvering hazards, learning patterns, and proper positioning was limited to the boss encounters, my favorite part. That being said, the boss fights were a gimmicky, short-lived reprieve from a tiring trek even on the intended difficulty. The bulk of the challenge came from the game conveniently leaving out boss information at times. Regardless of victory or defeat, progress was always reset after a run.
The procedural content, however, started to feel incredibly similar after about… three runs. With reskinned enemies, similarly constructed open arenas, and reused encounter outcomes, it lacked the dynamism and replayability that a good roguelike requires. Starting over was an arduous process, which was extremely unfortunate when the game bugged out and prohibited me from doing anything but forfeiting.
Visually, the game lacked important information. Hit points were not shown. Sometimes entire health bars wouldn’t show up, so I didn’t know if a character was targetable or not. Leveling up unlocked more abilities, but what it did to my base stats was left for me to figure out. Gauging distance was quite the hassle for a game that hinges on positioning as a core gameplay mechanic. Additionally, the late game suffers from visual overload. Sometimes the screen was so cluttered that I couldn’t properly make out if I was standing in a safe spot or sitting in the lap of an enemy.
Overall, it’s a small game making big-boy decisions without doing its big-boy due diligence. If you care to have a go for yourself, Legends of Kingdom Rush is available now on Apple Arcade and on Steam for $14.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Legends of Kingdom Rush.