They’re still back there, and they’re still fighting

What was once a Facebook game is now a self-contained mobile experience. Backyard Monsters: Unleashed from KIXEYE is an upgraded version of the Facebook combat simulation game Backyard Monsters. The game has made the transition to the portable world without losing anything, bringing iOS gamers one of the most organized, satisfying, and hilarious freemium strategy games around.

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed‘s setup will be familiar to anyone who’s played a combat strategy game in the past: run your village, build and upgrade buildings, raise an army, go forth and conquer. Your little piece of property is a backyard surrounded by greenery. By placing resource generators, defense and miscellaneous structures, you can turn your tiny village into a sprawling war factory. One that’s nigh invulnerable from neighboring backyards’ attacks!

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed

To go from zero to hero, Backyard Monsters: Unleashed spreads currency requirements out across four different types of resources: sticks, stones, putty, and goo. The first two make enough sense, as both are used to build basic and advanced structures, respectively. Goo is needed to spawn monsters, and it also serves as a currency for entering battle. Putty is used to construct certain buildings as well as to unlock new monsters. From what we can gather, monsters are basically just carefully shaped piles of squishy goop that live in stick houses. Doesn’t stop them from being fierce on the battlefield, though.

In addition to the resources above, Backyard Monsters: Unleashed also features “shiny,” the game’s “hurry-up” currency, along with an optional in-app purchase of an additional builder to let you work on more projects simultaneously. All resources are earned through normal play and as post-combat spoils, but you can also refill them with a quick microtransaction.

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed

When you’ve raised an army for battle, tap the “attack” icon to get things started. Campaign Mode battles let you fight and loot across increasingly difficult sets of stages, while Invasion Mode pits you against other players’ villages one by one. Both cost goo to initiate, but both reward you with loot of various types. Simply tap unit icons on the battlefield, and then tap the screen to deploy them. You can only place soldiers in certain parts of the field, and once deployed, a unit is gone for good: even if it survives the fight. Play it cool and only send out what you need to bring home the gold!

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed wins big points by successfully inserting quirky humor without coming off as forced or immature. The monsters themselves are a bit on the odd side (one look at the title screen confirms that), and the setting and dialogue both punch up the parody a few notches, making even the most serious battles feel like a Saturday morning cartoon.

Backyard Monsters: Unleashed

Battle AI in Backyard Monsters: Unleashed feels tighter than most competing combat sims. Units don’t move at random: they like to group together to take down dangerous buildings first, and then move on to lighter targets. They also intelligently split into separate units when confronted with multiple nearby targets, though never so disparate that their power is severely reduced. This makes the whole battle process much more enjoyable, as you’re not stuck yelling at the screen while your carefully crafted troops march to their doom.

When it comes to combat sims, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than Backyard Monsters: Unleashed. It’s got all the right parts in the right order, and it doesn’t force microtransactions on you at any point. Time to sit back, hatch some monsters, and then watch the goo roll in.