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Kingdom Rush: Vengeance review - A refreshingly evil spin on the series
Four years after Kingdom Rush: Origins, Ironhide Game Studio is back with the fourth installment in the Kingdom Rush series. In Kingdom Rush: Vengeance, the tables have turned, as you play as the evil resurrected wizard Vez’nan in his quest for revenge on the forces of good.
On the surface this might seem like a simple orc-and-goblin reskin of the four standard tower types fans of the series are familiar with: ranged, magic, artillery, and troops. However, the tower defense genre has evolved since finding a home on mobile devices, and Ironhide Game Studio has a few tricks up its sleeve to keep things fresh.
Is it enough to justify spending $5? Read on to find out!
Flipping the script
The first few minutes of Kingdom Rush: Vengeance set the scene for the rest of the game. The evil wizard Vez’nan is resurrected to find his castle turned into an amusement park for curious elves and dwarves. This kicks off a campaign to reconquer his land with the help of orcs, goblins, demons, skeletons, and other baddies.
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance will feel familiar to fans of the series. This is a good thing, since tutorial essentially finishes halfway through the first stage. You start with the four tower archetypes, and unlock more as you progress through the game’s 17 levels.
With 15 waves and no autosaving between waves, play sessions feel a bit too long for mobile
Early stages are pretty short, with five to ten waves of enemies, increasing to 15 waves round halfway through the game. Combined with not having an option to speed up the action other than calling waves early, later levels feel long. It’s not a game you can pick up and play in short bursts. Kingdom Rush: Vengeance is a game you’ll want to sit down and play for at least 30 minutes at a time, which is unusual for a mobile game.
Games like Bloons TD 6 get around this with an autosave feature between waves. This was left out of Kingdom Rush: Vengeance — there isn’t even a pause between waves. Keep that in mind before you start playing so you don’t lose your progress.
Commanding the dark army
One of the features the Kingdom Rush series adds to the tower defense genre is its hero system. In addition to plopping down turrets in strategic locations, you need to move your hero around the map to slow down sudden surges of enemies.
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance leans hard into this gameplay, which is far more interactive than similar titles. Halfway through any level a new path might open up in a spot where you haven’t built a single tower. Later, enemy heroes might shower arrows on your defenders at random intervals in the match. Clever use of your hero, spells, and items are the best way to survive these hectic situations.
Six of the game's nine heroes are locked behind a paywall
Throughout the campaign you can unlock three heroes in total, with another six heroes locked behind a paywall. Each hero has their own abilities and ultimate (the third spell you can use), and they level up as they gain experience.
At no point is it necessary to pay for heroes, as usual for the series or the genre as a whole. Still, a paid game with in-app purchases might put off some users. This is only made worse by the decision to lock away a full two thirds of the game’s heroes behind $3 to $8 micro-transactions.
Unique tower customization
The biggest departure in Kingdom Rush: Vengeance from its predecessors is the upgrade paths for towers. Rather than four basic towers with upgrade paths that dramatically change their abilities halfway through a level, Vengeance opts for more basic towers with more linear upgrades.
In practice, this means your Shadow Archer tower is always a simple archer tower. This sounds lame until you unlock other towers that fulfill a similar role, like the boomerang wielding Goblirangs, or the bone tossing Bone Flingers. They don’t change much, but these towers and their unique mechanics are available from the start of each match.
This adds an extra level of strategy before the match even begins, since you have to choose just five towers to take with you. You may find yourself hopping out of matches after a few waves if you’ve made the wrong choice.
With 11 towers available as the game progresses, there’s no lack of variety despite the simplified upgrade paths. For those with deep pockets, there are an additional five towers available for purchased. Like paid heroes, the purchasable towers are in no way necessary to complete the game, and in most cases other towers fulfill a similar or identical role.
Paid towers are not required to complete the game, but their presence may turn away some users
Still, that brings the number of in-app purchase types to three, with gems, heroes, and now towers available behind a paywall. To some it might sound like Ironhide has embraced the evil nature of Kingdom Rush: Vengeance with this level of monetization, but it’s par for the course in the mobile market. Developers have to eat too, and a game as polished and balanced as this deserves a full course meal.
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance review – Conclusion
Despite its potentially controversial in-app purchases, Kingdom Rush: Vengeance is an excellent game. Fans of the previous games in the series will not regret picking this one up. Those new to the series and on the fence can always try out the first game, Kingdom Rush, which is free to play.
Click the link below to download the game from the Google Play Store, and let us know in the comments what you think of it!