Ever want to command an army? Oversee a battlefield and place defenses as you see fit? Battle in terrains that have references to pop culture and movies? If you answered yes to any of the above, then Kingdom Rush Frontiers is a game for you. Ready the archers, rally the troops, charge up the wizards and sober up the dwarves. It’s time for battle.
OK I’m going to be honest here. I got fairly deep into the game without knowing anything about the story. The story is told through text and comic strips between battles. I just kept hitting “next” to keep playing.
There is a story though. It’s not a very deep story, but there is one. It goes something like this; evil tribesmen have attacked the settlement Hammerhold. Your job is to defend it. After you defeat the enemy forces, Lord Malagar emerges from the castle. But he’s stolen the Hammer of Ages. You now move to other settlements, forts, or even just open areas in the desert or jungle, chasing Lord Malagar to retrieve the Hammer.
Controls and Gameplay
Kingdom Rush Frontiers is a tower defense game. It’s very simple to play. Simply touch a build area and it gives you a choice of towers to build; archers, fighters, wizard tower, dwarven cannon. Each tower has its pluses and minuses. For example, the fighters can attack enemies above or underground, but cannot attack any flying enemies. Each tower can also be upgraded in battle. All this costs gold that you earn by defeating enemies.
You also have other elements at your disposal; reinforcements, fireballs, and even a Hero. Reinforcements are a small set of troops that you can have appear anywhere on the map. They last until they die or a short time has passed. You can make fireballs rain down on your enemies - also anywhere on the map. The fireball power is extremely powerful. Both of these powers have cool-down periods after you use them, so you must wait to use them again. The Hero is a very powerful warrior who can be moved around the map to help with problem areas. You get three Heroes to choose from with the game. Additional Heroes can be bought via an in-app purchase. They aren’t absolutely needed to play, but they do have some powerful attributes.
Between battles all of these elements of your arsenal can receive permanent upgrades. The upgrades cost stars that you earn for each battle. You can earn up to 3 stars per battle depending on how well you defend your point. You also earn gems during the battles which can be used to buy single-use special weapons. The Hero also earns experience that can be used to upgrade his abilities and grant him spells to cast in battle.
Graphics and Sound
To help relate its sense of humor Kingdom Rush Frontiers goes for very cartoony graphics. In between certain segments parts of the story are even presented in a comic strip style.
There isn’t much in the way of voice acting. It’s mostly battle calls, grunts, and screams of defeat. The music was pleasant, but not memorable.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers was a pleasant surprise for me. I find tower defense games get boring quickly when all you are doing is building towers and watching enemies swarm in. Kingdom Rush Frontiers has a lot more going on to keep you engaged. Unlike other games, you have options if enemies get past your towers like the reinforcements and fireballs. You are constantly doing something on the map. Additionally, with the permanent upgrades, it plays a bit like an RPG and strategy game. You have the freedom to customize your arsenal, but you have to think carefully about which upgrades your limited number of stars can afford.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers also offers a certain amount of ‘replayability.’ This mostly stems from the fact that while you might get through the first few battlefields with a perfect three out or three stars, the enemies get tougher as the game goes on you start finding yourself barely scraping by and earning just one star. As you improve your units, you can go back and earn those missing stars. Even though I missed out on the story, it didn’t really matter much. I had a lot of fun playing the game. It has a great sense of humor, little nods to pop culture and movies (one map has obviously used the Tusken Raiders from Star Wars, while another has an Indiana Jones knock off) and lots of customizable tweaks to keep you busy. I give Kingdom Rush Frontiers a 4.5 out of 5.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers is avialable now for the iPhone and iPad. For more information see the Kingdom Rush Frontiers web site.