An adequate base-builder that fails to innovate
Perhaps the most commonly regurgitated complaint from mobile gaming’s critics is that there’s way too much copycatting in that portion of the industry. While the haters claim the lack of originality is a bad thing, it isn’t inherently so. Many of the “blatant ripoffs” we’ve seen on Android and iOS has been about as good—if not better—than the games that inspired them. Then there are games like Castle Clash, which obviously draw inspiration, but lack that certain oomph needed to hold its own.
Similar to last month’s Jungle Heat, Castle Clash is a base-building strategy game that requires players to build armies, attack enemies, research goods, gather resources, and become the most powerful player. Anyone who’s played games like Clash of Clans and Jungle Heat will notice the immediate similarities. While the art style is different, the actual gameplay is pretty much identical. The game kicks off with a brief tutorial session then leaves you with a barebones base with minimal defense. From there, you need to upgrade your structures and hire troops.
The single player offerings are limited, but important. There’s a series of levels players can play through as they wish. Each level consists of a battle against a pre-built base, making it an excellent tool for helping new players learn how to play, as well as what does and does not work when constructing a base. Rather than mocking players with the hodgepodge of levels in multiplayer, the level-based single player mode will quickly evolve from “a nice way to earn a few resources” to “adapt or die!”
This quick surge in difficulty adds a certain level of frustrating charm to Castle Clash that is otherwise absent. Unfortunately, this spike throws off the pacing and seemingly brings progress to a halt until certain units and structures reach a higher level. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as leveling up early on is simple and quick due to the game providing tons of resources gems. Building and upgrading structures is a simple (albeit time-consuming) process, and rearranging the entire base in a more strategic layout is as simple and dragging buildings.
Multiplayer mode is where most players can quickly earn more resources. While it costs a certain amount of gold to enter battle, it’s a crapshoot as to how prepared your opponent will be. Some enemy bases will obviously be untouched from when that player started the game while others will be seemingly-untouchable strongholds. Luckily, you’re not locked in to the first enemy you come across, as you can pay the same amount of gold to “reroll” and check out someone else. It’s easy to spend a lot of time attacking low-level players for easy loot, despite how cheap it feels.
Combat is a definite weak spot in Castle Clash, because it lacks all sense of energy and polish. You simply tap where you want to place units and watch them attack nearby structures. This automation is standard for the genre, but it never ceases to carry its share of annoyances. Even when your units are being attacked, they’ll hold their focus on the nearest structure, taking damage the entire time. This leads to many unnecessary losses. The unlockable hero characters add some power to a squad, but they still function like most other units. The only real control during combat is magic, which can be used offensively or for support.
It’s difficult to be hard on Castle Clash, as it does a fine job at following the formula laid out by other games in the genre. The single player difficulty is a nice touch, though it could be too hard for some. The multiplayer consists of the standard offerings and combat isn’t anything special. The visuals are sleek, but not memorable. Ultimately, Castle Clash winds up being “just another game” instead of something so much greater.