Stiff up­per lip, even stiffer dif­fi­culty curve

XBox: The Official Magazine - - REVIEW -

What cocky, young nonoth­ings we were when we first signed up for Iron­cast. We were mildly in­trigued when a 2D steam­punk mech, an Iron­cast, stomped onto Lon­don’s 19th cen­tury streets. But our eyes al­most rolled out of our heads when a grid of coloured tiles dom­i­nated the cen­tre of the screen. We’ve played enough Puz­zle Quest it­er­a­tions to know the drill: this was an­other Be­jew­eled- alike puz­zler with a rub­bish story try­ing to keep you en­gaged dur­ing repet­i­tive tile-match­ing. Yawn­ing, we started match­ing lines of three or more tiles. Then our Iron­cast blew up and we had to restart the whole game. Huh?

Start show­ing some re­spect, pri­vate, be­cause there’s far more to Iron­cast than idle tile-match­ing. The real ob­jec­tive is bal­anc­ing power. Match ammo tiles for your can­nons, en­ergy for shields and move­ment, ice for cooldown and span­ners for re­pairs.

Each turn gives you three goes on the tile-match­ing grid, and as many strate­gic ma­noeu­vres as you can af­ford with your ac­cu­mu­lated re­sources. Clear­ing as many tiles as pos­si­ble has its ad­van­tages (like bonus XP), but it’s smarter to save them for later, when you need more ammo, en­ergy and the like. It means the way you play the puz­zle game di­rectly af­fects the way you play the turn-based strat­egy, mak­ing both me­chan­ics more in­volv­ing. Blast en­e­mies hard and of­ten, yes, but keep en­ergy in mind or your war is over. Ini­tially we were for­get­ting to pri­ori­tise shields, or mak­ing sure we were fo­cus­ing fire on the right weak points. But once you start get­ting to grips with both me­chan­ics it’s as ad­dic­tive as any puz­zle game.

Be­tween bat­tles you spend scrap to re­pair your Iron­cast, build new weapons and choose aug­men­ta­tions (cooldown pow­ers that boost de­fence, steal­ing en­emy re­sources, etc) to turn the tide of bat­tle. It’s a tough game and death is per­ma­nent, so ev­ery choice is cru­cial to the war ef­fort. But it’s a pleas­ingly stupid war worth fight­ing for. A con­flict be­tween the French and Bri­tish that in­volves res­cu­ing tea, bat­tling overzeal­ous com­man­ders who don’t re­alise they’re on your side and de­feat­ing the en­emy in the po­litest way pos­si­ble. A charm­ing layer of Bri­tish non­sense adds to 2016’s first bril­liant sur­prise. OXM

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