Mining + defense = endlessly addictive gameplay
Minecraft, Minecraft, Minecraft! It seems like that’s just about all gamers can talk about anymore. OK, that’s not true, but the game of collectin’ and buildin’ did seem to become an interactive missing link of sorts. Suddenly, even the most casual gamer had a reason to cross the divide from casual to legitimate challenge…y’know, a more deep and rewarding experience. Thus, it was only a matter of time before somebody came along and took the concept in different directions.
And while there have been plenty of clones, rip-offs and sub-par attempts to replicate or expand on the concept, the newly released tower defense-meets-Minecraft game Block Fortress from Foursaken Media (New York Zombies, Heroes & Castles) takes the elements that make the genre so popular and blows them the #%* up with a surprisingly complex combination of mining, strategy, defense, FPS and more.
Block Fortress plays out in one of three modes: Survival, Sandbox and Quickstart. Each mode begins by allowing the player to check out one of the six maps and plan their strategy. You’ll start by building your barracks and reinforcing them with any number of turrets, power generators, walls made from varying materials, etc. Veterans of block-building and/or tower defense games (or impatient gamers like me) who think they know everything will surely want to jump right in, but take a tip from your fine friends at Gamezebo—you’ll want to take your time and familiarize yourself with the many, many options Foursaken has fit into this package. Yes, those of you out there who have mastered either genre will probably have an easier time taking on the pesky Goblocks and keeping your barracks intact, but there are so many different ways to go about your defense that it can be overwhelming.
Additionally, camera controls, though customizable, are tricky to learn. Say, for instance, that you’re a little more used to having an actual physical analog stick…good luck with the first-person parts of Block Fortress, especially once the attack waves begin. This makes the Sandbox mode invaluable. Those smart guys over at Foursaken have built this as a sort of tutorial. You’ll be given unlimited resources and enemy attacks become optional.
Once you’ve got the hang of things, there are plenty of pre-game options to keep things interesting. Leveling up allows you to craft and mod defenses, and a handful of available micro-transactions (not counting the insane rare mineral pack which weighs in at an astounding $19.99) ought to keep even the most seasoned gamer coming back for more. This is the allure of the genre; it plants a seed in your head that constantly has you wondering what other strategies you could use or what rare mineral you might find if you just had the resources to build one more mineshaft. Each and every wave survived only serves to spur you on to better results. Add excellently harrowing music, a satisfying leveling system and dozens of unlocks and you’ve got one hell of a full experience for an iOS game.
The overall experience of Block Fortress is too much to take in with a few short sittings, especially on the small screen of an iPhone. This is, in fact, the biggest criticism we can assign the game; gamers with an iPad will have a much better time than those attempting to play with an iPhone. It’s straight up frustrating to even see where you are placing your blocks on the smaller screen, and once the chaos of a Goblock attack is in full effect, you will die and die and die until you’re seriously online trying to find the cheapest iPad you can (true story). It comes down to the classic gaming questions: do you have the proper equipment, and do you have the wherewithal to invest the time.