Kingdom Rush Origins Review: Solid, Dependable Tower Defense
The Kingdom Rush series is, hands down, my favorite tower defense series on iOS. The devs really understand what makes a TD game work, and they’ve produced two excellent examples of the genre. Now, they’ve made a third in the series, Kingdom Rush Origins, which sticks with the winning formula to deliver another solid TD game.
The “Origins” of the title refers to the framing story. Supposedly this is telling a story from the distant past of the Kingdom Rush world. As I’ve never really paid attention to the “plot” of the Kingdom Rush series, I can’t say whether this is true. Besides, it’s mostly incidental, though it serves to set the flavor of the heroes (elves, druids, and other nature defenders) and villains (gnolls, dark elves, spiders, and more).
As in prior entries, your job is to defend exit points on a map from waves of invaders. As in prior entries, you’ve got four kinds of towers: infantry, archery, magic, and artillery. As in prior entries, each one has numerous upgrades, including branching specialty towers. As in prior entries, you also get to choose a hero for each battle; that hero roams free and earns experience, leveling up as he progresses through the game. As in prior entries, you also have a few assists to trigger, like a lightning storm or a pair of infantry reinforcements.
And as in prior entries, it’s a ton of fun. I have played TD games before where the gameplay really dies off in the middle of a wave; but Origins makes sure you always have things to tend to. The game knows how to keep you challenged and engaged as it has ever since the original. Origins applies all the tricks they’ve learned since the original. There’s no doubt that if you loved the last two games, you’ll fall fast for Origins.
The old adage is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Origins certainly lives by this creed. Everything worked so well the last time around, so why really mess with it? It has a different “skin” (elves instead of humans, druids instead of dwarves) but the strategies are not so different. I wish that they had done just a little more to offer something new, taken a bigger risk. This game is great, but in the moment of play I really couldn’t tell you what makes it a different game than Kingdom Rush Frontiers.
Well, maybe I could. Because some of the things that makes Kingdom Rush such a good series were done up a little bit more here. Interactive board elements exist on every level in some form or other, some of them not directly connected to the defense; my favorite was a game of Simon played out on magic mushrooms, which earned you coins for tower-building when you successfully played. There’s also something about the boss monsters in Kingdom Rush: Origins that will make you tear your hair out (the dark elf queen in the Unseelie Court level … Gaahhhh!!!). And all in all it feels like there’s always a little more to do here than there was the last time out.
Also, it’s absolutely as good looking as past entries. The cartoon art style and comic book sound effects remain delightful. It looks especially good in HD on the iPad.
So, okay, the game isn’t as original as it could be. But with Kingdom Rush, it doesn’t have to be. The formula works so well! Props to Ironhide for keeping the game so familiar but also so gosh darn much fun. I have trouble finding any real fault to the game in the moment of play, and so I have to go with my heart and award it the full five stars.
Our score: 5 out of 5