enfrdeitptrues

Real Time Strategy

  • Valhalla Hills (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Valhalla Hills
    Developed By: Funatics Software GmbH
    Published By: Daedalic Entertainment
    Released: December 2, 2015
    Available On: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
    Genre: Strategy
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Number of Players: Single player
    MSRP: $29.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Funatics Software for sending a copy of this game to review!

    Valhalla Hills is a strategy game centered around Vikings and Norse mythology. You control a group of Vikings and build up settlements to survive the harsh mountainside environment. There are a mixture of monsters and wild beasts that roam around and must be contended with. After building a thriving Viking settlement you must head to the top of the mountain and open up the magical portal to Valhalla. Once opened the portal presents you with the choice of fighting the portal guardians or offering a sacrifice to appease the gods and gain access.

    The first thing I noticed about this game is the whimsical art style. I'm always dubious of cartoony approaches to graphics because so many games do it so poorly, but this game does it well. The character models, buildings and scenery are all brightly colored and there's a cohesive design with everything in the world. The lighting is carefully crafted to accentuate the colors and shapes. The torches on the buildings are a nice touch and give a great cityscape feel during nighttime. All of these aspects work together to create a very pleasing scene to look at. The music is very charming; I just wish there was more. I enjoy all of the sounds and music that are in the game, but after a couple missions it begins to get repetitive. Unfortunately other aspects of the game can also get repetitive.

    Valhalla Hills
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Variety of building options, amount of unlocks, able to play with all unlocks at the start
    Weak Points: User Interface is missing vital information, levels can get tedious
    Moral Warnings:Cartoon violence, prominent Norse mythology

    The gameplay overall is fun and engaging, but it lacks in depth. I went into the game thinking it would be somewhere between Civilization and Sim City and was somewhat disappointed. At the start of the game you make a profile and choose either Classic mode or Open mode. Classic mode has you unlocking buildings and units as you go through missions. Open mode means everything is already unlocked. I spent most of my time in Classic, but played a few maps in Open mode just to see what I was missing. While each map is different in terms of size, shape, steepness, and creatures, the objective is always the same. You build up forces so you can go to the top of the hill and defeat the portal guardians. I really enjoyed assaulting the portal. I built up little Viking strike teams that traversed dangerous terrain to reach the portal. Then I established a base camp and sent in reinforcements as necessary to take out whatever monsters lay beyond the portal. There is also the option to offer a sacrifice to the gods consisting of a large sum of a resources, but that route never felt as rewarding. 

    After a few missions you unlock enough buildings and units such that you can do the same build order over and over again and win. I'm not exaggerating; I built the same exact 6-7 buildings in the same order for a dozen or so missions. The issue is that it takes multiple missions to unlock a new building and you might not even be able to use that building on the next map because of the random terrain. Open mode is where fans of this type of game will find most of their enjoyment. There's a great variety of buildings; you can set up a city that makes sense, instead of one that simply beats the mission. It's possible to build massive Viking settlements, transforming an untamed mountainside into a Viking metropolis. My biggest challenge when playing in Open mode was working with the user interface. 

    Valhalla Hills
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 1.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    The user interface in Valhalla Hills is lacking some key elements which makes playing the game more of a chore than it needs to be. The most glaring issue is that there's no information regarding build progress. There's no bar, no timer, nothing; you just have to wait for a building or unit. Eventually you get an idea of how long a building or a unit takes to finish and can plan accordingly. The resources are also inexplicably split up in the UI. Some of the more important ones, like wood and stone, are on the main UI pane, but lesser used ones like sticks and coal are two clicks away. This becomes especially confusing when placing a building to be built; the resources aren't immediately subtracted from the total because the worker Vikings have to carry them to the site. Multiple times I couldn't figure out why my building wasn't being built and only later I stumbled onto the other resource window and saw I was missing sticks. 

    Valhalla Hills is a great little game if you enjoy city builders and Vikings. I do caution that the game is deep into Norse mythology. You call down your Viking settlers of Valhalla, which is very pagan, but also eliminates any potential sexual content. Your Vikings fight monsters from Norse epics and you can offer sacrifices to appease Norse gods. The violence in this game is limited to animals, mythical creatures, and the undead. There's no blood or gore featured in the game. I definitely enjoyed my time playing and could see other people who are more into the genre losing a lot of time in this game. I just wish the UI was better designed and that each mission felt meaningful. 

     

  • War for the Overworld (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    War for the Overworld
    Developed by: Brightrock Games, Subterranean Games
    Published by: Brightrock Games, Subterranean Games
    Release Date: April 2, 2015
    Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux
    Genre: Strategy, Simulation
    Players: 1-4
    ESRB rating: Unrated
    Price: $29.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Brightrock Games for sending us the review code.

    Morality is a big thing at Christ Centered Gamer for many obvious reasons. So, I'll get straight to the point and admit it was hard to review War for the Overworld. Not many games have the creative guts to put players in the role of a powerful villain. We have games that put players in control of drug dealers or demons in abundance. Yet how many games do we have that come out and say, "you're evil, go kill people" and leave it at that? The game itself is a rather excellent strategy game yet the challenge will be reviewing the moral standpoints. Let's get right into War for the Overworld and lead the minions of evil to ruin the good kingdom.

    In War for the Overworld you play as the Underlord, a sleepy demonic deity being pushed on by a narrative voice to regain your dark powers. Deep underground your hand commands your tirelessly working imps to dig out rooms and pathways so you may build a dungeon. Within your dungeon you build rooms to raise and command various minions as well as lay traps for unsuspecting heroes. Some missions task you with defeating a human leader within a time limit; other missions task you with building up massive forces to take on complicated enemy dungeons. Occasionally you will even have to face off against other Underlords. If the story campaign doesn't suit your fancy, a medley of other modes await you in this game. You can start multiplayer games to compete against other players, you can fight against AI in skirmish modes, and you can time yourself to build a dungeon that has to survive against waves of enemies. If you want a more relaxing experience, you have a Home Realm you can retreat to where you may experiment with dungeon building techniques and designs without the stress of enemies hammering at your doorstep.

    War for the Overworld
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Decent Strategy game that's a tribute to a Classic PC title. Controls are easy to learn and the game is not hard to master.
    Weak Points: The strategy might not be completely fleshed out in the single player mode.
    Moral Warnings: You're playing a demonic overlord with no moral compass at all. The game is very gore heavy for a top down perspective game. You will destroy lives and kill in the name of your own amusement and gain.

    The gameplay is well put together. The campaign teaches you every single element of the game in detail, not only with tooltips, but narration as well. Nothing goes unexplained and nothing is hidden from the player. As you progress through the campaign you will unlock new rooms that, when built, will attract particular minions to your dungeon. Each level's map will be designed differently. No level will allow you to build infinitely. To build rooms your minions will need to mine for gold which is usually in set amounts on each level. Some stages may have special blocks to mine which give infinite gold yet they are usually only for particularly tough stages and they are hard to find. Minions also demand a payday as the level goes on. Your gold stores will never be completely full so you must plan to manage minion needs and room needs well. In each stage you start out with certain abilities and rooms locked away. To unlock them you need to gather sins by first attracting cultists to your dungeon and then having them research sins in a library. These allow you to unlock spells, rooms, and traps to use in your dungeon as you see fit.

    War for the Overworld can mostly be controlled with a mouse to show your minions where to dig out areas. Dragging over claimed areas will automatically build rooms. You can pick up minions with the mouse and drop them off on any claimed tile to face combat. You have flags you can place to command minions or beast type minions to go to certain locations. You can designate areas for workers to avoid while you build up your forces. Camera movement can also be controlled with WASD. If you choose, you can possess individual minions with a spell to take direct control of what combat abilities they use and how well they fight, yet most players won't find this very necessary and useful. It's more for fun after you set your strategy in motion.

    War for the Overworld
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 46%
    Violence - 3/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 1/10

    The game's cons come in its challenges. This game is a love letter to the popular PC classics, Dungeon Keeper 1 & 2. Yet for some people they haven't completely captured the spirit. The campaign's difficulty curve is a bit of a rollercoaster. You'll find some levels slow and easy where you're smacking everything down only for particular parts to ramp up the challenge and then it drops again. The game is very easy to “Zerg Rush.” For those uninitiated in strategy games this means using cheap and fast units to beat the level quickly before the opposition has time to build up heavy defenses. This game is still an excellent love letter, but it doesn't exactly capture what was loved about the original game. Don't expect a robust multiplayer environment. Most online matches are few and far between and some rooms will be made by people only playing with friends. If you find someone to challenge, the online does work flawlessly with little to no lag. The game is much more balanced in multiplayer than in the campaign. You'll find yourself able to use multiple strategies instead of rushing through everything.

    You're playing a demonic overlord that commits evil acts for fun; you're the equivalent of Lucifer no matter which way you look at it. You can commit vile acts of torture and imprisonment just to bend souls to your will and you summon everything from vampires to zombies. The gore can be heavy and your floors will be filled with blood. Succubus minions make the sort of naughty sexual noises you would expect from such creatures. Yet you don't witness them doing any lewd acts. Christians and parents alike should be very wary of this game. The only place this game is squeaky clean in is language. I would not recommend this game to those under the age of sixteen.

    If you have ever wanted to commit evil for the sake of evil then War for the Overworld might be the game you're looking for.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------Update---------------------------------------------------------------

    So it's been awhile, but I wanted to add a few updates to my old review of War for the Overworld. Since my time writing the old review, they have added a lot of updates and DLC that really gives people that feeling of a classic dungeon keeper experience.

    First we have the Heart of Gold Expansion. This adds 4 new campaign levels from the perspective of a different Underlord. It gives you new abilities to master that can be defensive or offensive; you can summon a giant golden titan to smash your opponents to bits. The expansion also came with new map editor features and skins to play with. The Crucible is a free expansion that challenges you with a survival mode to see how long your dungeon can last before it is inevitably overwhelmed. With the Crucible expansion you also get access to new units that can make themselves at home in your dungeon. Finally, you have the My Pet Dungeon expansion. The eight levels that come with it are designed to be more relaxed and sandbox friendly. You get a chance to build a perfect dungeon and watch it grow in this expansion.

    Each expansion on it's own doesn't add much to the game. The levels are pretty short, some easy, some challenging. Each expansion also advertises fixes and improvements as features. This usually means the expansions themselves aren't too meaty. However the new content makes for a perfect dungeon management experience.

  • Wartile (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Wartile
    Published by: Deck 13 and WhisperGames
    Developed by: Playwood Project
    Release date: February 8, 2018
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Strategy
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    MSRP: $19.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    A hearty thanks to Deck 13 and WhisperGames for the review copy!

    Are you a fan of Viking culture and mythology? Did you ever play Heroscape and love it? If so, then Wartile is your game. If you've ever played Heroscape, then you already understand the basics of how Wartile works. It's played on a board made up of hex shaped tiles which the game pieces move around on. The tiles are not on a single flat plane, but are arranged in three dimensions to form hills and valleys. The typical Wartile game board includes scenery, obstacles, enemies, mission objectives, powerups and so on. The game is played by moving the player's pieces around the tiles to accomplish game objectives and defeat enemy pieces.

    What gives the game its character is that the pieces are animated and represent named characters. Moving a game piece next to an enemy piece results in the pieces swinging their weapons at each other and fighting, complete with sound effects. It's a little like Battle Chess that way, except that the winner is the strongest piece, not the piece that moved. Pieces have stats-like defense, attack and armor as well as special spell-like abilities that can be used as buffs, debuffs, attacks or healing. The game isn't turn-based, but is played in real time. The player is free to continuously move pieces just as the enemy pieces move continually as well. The only limit is that there is a cooldown between moves, with some pieces having a shorter cooldown than others.

    Gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward, making the game very quick to learn. At the same time, it has lots of nuances and decisions to be made, such as; which pieces to bring on a mission? How should they be equipped? Which special ability cards should they bring? Once on the board, it takes a good strategy to accomplish all of the mission goals and avoid getting one's pieces killed. Go to the top of the board and work down from there, or go straight for the nearest mission objective before taking out the cluster of enemy pieces? These decisions give the game a surprising amount of depth and yes, they matter. The missions can be easy or difficult and these decisions make all the difference.

    Wartile
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great ambiance and music; easy game to learn but hard to master
    Weak Points: Difficulty climbs rapidly after the first couple of missions
    Moral Warnings: Mild violence; pagan Viking themes

    Between missions the player has access to several screens for planning the next mission or preparing their pieces. Loot picked up from missions can be sold for additional coin, and new equipment can be bought. Items such as weapons, armor and runes are all available for upgrading game pieces, which are equipped in a separate screen. There's a screen for hiring new pieces to add to the player's collection as well as a screen for choosing the special abilities that the pieces will take with them into the missions.

    There's also a campaign map where the player can track their progress through the game and decide which mission to take on next. Once a mission has been chosen, the player selects the pieces they want to use. Each game piece has its own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Want ranged attacks? Bring the character with a bow. Need some magical support? Bring the witch. Need a strong tank? Bring the piece you gave the best shield and armor to. Every piece has its own play style and the player can choose how to use them together strategically on the board. Each mission allows a limited number of pieces, so the player needs to have multiple ways to synergize.

    The game is fairly easy at first, but the difficulty climbs fast after the first couple of missions and the player has access to more and better pieces. There is no multiplayer mode in Wartile, just campaign.

    Wartile uses a basic point and click interface which works reasonably well, though at times it can be clumsy when trying to choose a special ability to play. Since pieces can move multiple hexes in a single action, using the keyboard wouldn't have been an option. The gameplay controls are very intuitive both in and out of missions.

    Wartile
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

    The graphics are great, with the game boards looking gorgeous. Environments like icy mountains, forests and islands all look great though the thick forest can make it hard to see items and pieces through the foliage. All those extra visual elements will also put a load on your system so if your specs aren't up to snuff, this is where it'll hurt. Fortunately there are plenty of graphics options to help with that. Even on low graphics settings the game still looks great.

    The ambient sound and game effects are pretty good, but the music is what grabbed my attention the most. A very beautiful score plays during missions and does a great job of setting the mood in game. I'd love to get the music tracks into an MP3 player.

    The game plays smoothly and didn't crash or freeze when I was playing. I really appreciated the stability on long missions. Yes, you can save at any time, but it's hard to remember to do that when you're really in the zone.

    In terms of morality there's not much of concern. The violence when pieces are fighting is seen from above and isn't very explicit. There's no sexual imagery or rough language. The game is heavy into Viking mythology and the in-game universe is held to be real, not myth. Magical powers exist as do fantasy creatures and magical items. These elements are unavoidable so if that's something you aren't comfortable with, be warned.

    Again, it's Vikings, so raiding and warfare are central to the story, also unavoidable.

    Overall this is a fun game and has high replay value by playing the missions with different combinations of pieces and abilities. I really love the originality in terms of gameplay and the living game pieces are lots of fun.

  • Zombie City Defense 2 (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Zombie City Defense 2
    Developed By: Mozg Labs
    Published By: Mozg Labs
    Released: August 19, 2016
    Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
    Genre: Simulation, Strategy
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: 1 offline
    Price: $9.99

    *Advertising disclosure* - After this review was posted, Black Shell Media became an advertising partner.  This review is not influenced by this relationship.

    Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us the review code.

    Nowadays, when I see a game that includes zombies in the title I get a little skeptical. I’ve seen plenty of games that just throw some zombies in and expect everything to be good. I was really afraid this was going to be one of those games when I first got it. I will admit, I was really wrong. Zombie City Defense 2 is a game that I wound up really enjoying and is one that I wish I had more time to play.

    Zombie City Defense 2 is like a mixture of tower defense and some smaller scale real-time strategy (RTS) with its gameplay. You get presented with different missions where you must survive for a certain number of days. Each mission has a different map which requires changes in tactics, but your same basic strategy remains the same. You will need to scavenge the surrounding buildings for resources in order to build up better defenses to survive the many attacks by the zombies. By completing missions, you are awarded points to spend to unlock extra things to use during the missions such as new units and abilities.

    Each mission comes with some different difficulties that you can attempt for even more points, but that isn’t the only way to gain points. Each higher difficulty of missions also adds some extra secondary objectives to do that can be really challenging. It is by completing these that you will really start to get some extra points. These points are really important since each mission can’t be easily completed in the same way. You will want to get a variety of different things unlocked so you can take them on the missions. An amphibious vehicle isn’t very useful on most levels, but one that has a lot of water would really benefit from it. Likewise, a unit good at breaching buildings is almost always useful unless you are on a mission where you just need to hold out in the compound the whole time.

    Zombie City Defense 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Pretty and unique artstyle; Some tower defense action without being as limited; Lots of replay value with bonus objectives and new things to unlock.
    Weak Points: A few pathfinding bugs; Not all features were fully explained; Game will require some grinding to unlock everything.
    Moral Warnings: Some minor violence; Zombies.

    What I found the most interesting that this game did is how you search buildings. Any infantry unit can be sent into a structure to scavenge or kill an enemy if one is present. While inside a building, units have some boosts to their defenses and some, if tall enough, can even provide a range bonus. You will wind up using these structures a lot to create choke points to prevent the zombies from reaching your main base and destroying it. Depending on how you set up your forces for each mission will determine how you go about completing it. If you go heavy into infantry, you will be setting up a lot of them in buildings and turning it into a tower defense experience. If you go more motorized, you will be setting up turrets and running vehicles around for some hit and run tactics. The game also does a good job at setting up missions where they give you the resources to go more one way instead of another to incentivize you to change how you play the game.

    During my time playing the game I have ran into a few bugs. Most of them had to do with some pathfinding not working properly. On the first mission there is a tower that my units have a hard time pathing to and it is one that I seem to always run into on that mission. There was also one where I was holding a building out on an island and the zombies seemed like they couldn’t path to me. That was helpful at the time since it was a hard to defend bonus objective, but the game kept sending zombies there to get me so their numbers kept increasing which had me worried that they would all come to get me at once. Controls were mostly okay, but it could be hard to select units at times when they were in a structure that could also be selected. The game did include a tutorial, but I did have to look up some help on one of the missions since there were some features that weren’t explained properly in the game. Once I figured that stuff out, the game did become much easier to play.

    Zombie City Defense 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The music, while not being outstanding, wasn’t something I ever got tired of listening to. It was mostly background stuff so it isn’t really something that would normally stand out, but I think it serves its purpose well. Sound effects were pretty good. The guns weren’t the most realistic sounding, but they did serve their purpose and there was some work done to make the different weapons sound different so you could tell who was firing just by the sound. Art is one thing that stood out to me the most about this game. Everything is fairly simplistic, but is looks very pretty. It looks a bit like something you’d see in a sci-fi movie where they are looking at a map on a hologram. The buildings are just some solid, slightly transparent colors, but they still manage to show off a lot of detail. The terrain is all black, but you can see the differences in it really well. Units, both yours and the enemy’s, are just icons on the map. This wasn’t something I liked too much at first, but it is something that really grew on me as I played. All of that, combined with the way the UI is designed, really gives off a feel that you are a commander back at base watching everything through a satellite.

    Morally, there isn’t much in this game to talk about. There is violence with you killing zombies, but you are somewhat removed from what is happening so it doesn’t feel like much actually happened. You just have some icons removed from the map. Now, you can kill civilians by blowing up some buildings, but unless you check before doing it, you don’t really know if there are civilians in the structures. The only time you see story is when you read the brief descriptions of the missions and from the ones I have done I don’t remember any language. You will also be fighting zombies which some might not like. What I might say would prevent me the most from getting this for a younger player would be the difficulty of the game and the amount of trial and error required to progress. That could be a bit frustrating to a younger player.

    Zombie City Defense 2 is a game that I wound up really enjoying. The game isn’t without faults, but it was one that I had enough fun playing to overlook them. It also isn’t too expensive. Back when I first started playing it, it was on sale for less than two dollars which, while being worth the regular ten dollar asking price, is totally worth that sweet sale price. It is a game that I’d like to play more of, and was one that I planned to fully beat before reviewing, but each mission does just take time since you must survive for a set amount of waves. That, in a way, is also a good thing since you will get a lot of gameplay time out of this if you do wind up getting it. I'm around 6 missions into it and I've already played for fifteen hours and I know that there are many more missions still left to do.

    -Paul Barnard (Betuor)

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About Us:

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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