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Game Info:

Kingdom Rush Origins
Developed By: Ironhide Game Studio
Published By: Ironhide Game Studio
Released: Oct 17, 2018
Available On: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Strategy, Tower Defense
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $14.99 (Steam); $2.99/$4.99 (Google Play/App Store with in-app purchases)

Thank you Ironhide Game Studio for sending us a review code!

This it is, the final push! The horde really wants your bacon and you only got the ragtag bunch of misfits left out of THAT ragtag bunch to defend your butt. They’re sending literally everyone out now: the dogs, the cats, their mother, your mother, and even the Roomba to haul you and your treasures back! But it’s all good, you just have to last out one more wave, right? It’ll all be worth it in the end.

Kingdom Rush Origins is yet another entry into the vast but niche tower defense sub-genre of strategy games. Contrary to the name, Origins is actually the third entry to the Kingdom Rush series. I have not played the previous entries so I cannot compare it to its prequels (well, sequels in a timeline sense), but I do know a thing or two about tower defense after all. As this is an origin story, Origins will explain how the main villain of the last two entries, Vez’nan, became corrupt with power. Malicia, Queen of the Twilight Elves, takes the role of villainess for this story.

Presented in a comic book-like format, the art of Origins is pleasing and charming, and even reminds me of comic books and webcomics in general. The character art is expressive (although most characters are typically sporting a scowl) and colorful. Enemies all have a distinct and unique look from each other. For a game series that originated on mobile devices, it presents itself on the PC quite efficiently.

As Origins is a tower defense game, all controlled by the mouse, it has the typical lanes that enemies walk down, the typical spots where you can build your towers, and the whole goal is to prevent them from reaching your base, earning gold for each enemy slain. In the standard game mode, you have 20 lives, with the amount of lives decreasing by 1 or 2 with any enemy that passes your defenses. Enemies are split into waves, and only a limited amount of time is given before the next wave starts. There is the option to start waves early, with an incentive of extra gold given out.

Kingdom Rush Origins
Highlights:

Strong Points: Simple to pick up and play; multiple ways to test your skills; heroes to add an extra depth to the gameplay
Weak Points: No fast-forward button; difficulty levels only increase the amount of health enemies have; PC version lacks some features that the mobile versions have, such as endless mode
Moral Warnings: Instances of blood; mentions of a goddess and how the bad guys want her power; everyone uses magic

In terms of the tower selection, there actually isn’t a whole lot to choose from, unlike other tower defense games. There are only four towers to choose from in Origins: the standard fast-firing archer tower, the strong mage towers, rune towers which throw huge rocks that do area of effect damage, and barracks towers. Barracks towers are unique from the other towers as they send out soldiers on the field to impede movement. What Origins lacks in quantity of towers, they more than make up for it in quality, as each tower has four levels, with a split path for the max level. Each max-leveled tower can be further upgraded with unique abilities to grant them devastating and even life-saving results.

What separates Origins, and the series in general, from most tower defense games is the usage of heroes, as well as the usage of reinforcements. Heroes are a special unit that can be directed around the field to help out in defending the kingdom, and each hero has a slew of abilities to combat the horde. At first, you start off with only Eridan the Ranger, but as more levels are unlocked, so are heroes. Each hero also has voice acting and unique lines, with some lines making cute references. Reinforcements are one part of your repertoire that you can manually spawn every 15 seconds and place anywhere on the map to act as a second line of defense. The other two abilities you have are the ability to cast lightning on the map, more or less acting as a “panic button” in case you screw up royally, and hero-specific abilities which can range from simply more damage, to even stunning a group of enemies.

With every level completed, you can earn up to three stars depending on how many lives you lose. Your hero also levels up with participation as well. You can use these stars and experience to upgrade tower/ability efficiency and hero ability, respectively. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting at least two stars per level as the later levels can get pretty hectic. If you earn three stars, you unlock the Heroic and Iron Challenges for that specific level. Heroic and Iron Challenges are tough to beat, as they are not only harder versions of the level you completed, but with different enemies; you only have one life for each, so you can’t afford to make even one mistake. For all the above mentioned, it can get a bit annoying when aiming for 100% as most levels in the game can last upwards to 20 minutes and the complete lack of a fast-forward feature means you have to sit through all of it. As not one level will let you gain three stars if you lose more than two lives, this can be truly heartbreaking during the last stretch.

Kingdom Rush Origins
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 77%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

There is always a lot going on within Origins, especially in the background. All of these amusing theatrics add life to the game, but not every little thing going on in the background is just for show. It might just be worth interacting with every piece of scenery you can. The game can get very intense as well, even on the casual setting. I thought this would be a game that I could only pay half of my attention to, while watching something else on my second monitor, but that wasn’t always the case. Keep in mind that just because there is a path from the enemy spawn point to your base, doesn’t mean they will always take that path. They will utilize shortcuts, multiple pathways, and sometimes new pathways open up as the waves go on. Each level also contains a gimmick. Most of these gimmicks help you out, while some can be harmful (as well as obnoxious). All of this was definitely a lot more than I expected from a tower defense game.

There are some cases of blood shown, when enemies and allies are hit by sharp objects, such as arrows and bladed weapons, and when killed by said weapons leave a small pool of blood at their death spot. The nature of the game is fairly cartoon-like so I wouldn’t call the depiction realistic in the slightest. Malicia’s goal is to obtain the ancient power of the elven race, which was granted by a goddess according to the narrative. A lot of magic use is present, from the enemies to some of the heroes.

Kingdom Rush Origins may not be my favorite tower defense game, but it manages to be a very competent take on the genre. With a lot to make it different from all the others, it may just be one of the best in its genre. If you like tower defense games, you’ll most likely enjoy this one too. There are about fifteen standard levels in the game that took me about 6 hours to complete, with even more levels and heroes unlocked in future updates after you complete those so there is plenty to come back too. The Heroic and Iron Challenges will really test your mettle if you’re looking for a challenge. Even though the absence of a fast-forward function for the third entry in the series is pretty annoying, and the removal of endless mode from the PC edition for the strange reason being "the PC version lacking microtransactions," Origins manages to do a lot right for tower defense kind everywhere. I could probably safely recommend it for most children, even if blood is present in the game in rather small quantities. When buying for either the computer or mobile markets, keep in mind that the mobile versions have in-app purchases on the offset of being cheaper, while the computer versions have (almost) everything included with the $14.99 price tag.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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