Stiff upper lip, even stiffer difficulty curve
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