Game Info:

Iron Marines
Developed By: Ironhide Game Studio
Published By: Ironhide Game Studio
Released: May 19, 2019
Available On: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, LinuxOS
Genre: Real Time Strategy
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $15 Steam, $5 mobile devices

Thanks to Ironhide Game Studio for the Steam review code!

Iron Marines is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) with light tower defense mechanics. Across 3 different planets you will do various objectives and kill a lot of aliens. There is a pretty good chunk of content here with several heroes, units, and upgrades. For the most part, I enjoyed my time with Iron Marines.

Gameplay is pretty simple from a mechanical standpoint. Most of your time will be spent hastily clicking on units and putting them into position to attack. Unlike standard RTS games, Iron Marines uses a very simple control scheme to get this done, which should appeal to a more casual audience. There are a ton of units to choose from, each with their own benefits. Snipers can shoot from very far away but take a long time to lock onto a target. A mech unit with a flamethrower is very good at close range and has a lot of health. You can, and must, make careful decisions with unit choice to be able to finish a mission.

Iron Marines

Strong Points: Nice art style; simplistic gameplay; content rich
Weak Points: Repetitive voice lines; grindy gameplay
Moral Warnings: Necromancy; units sometimes show skin; alien goop on kill; human units drop blood

There are powerful unit types called heroes. You only get to choose 1 per mission (from the menu), but they have a couple of abilities each and can respawn when they die. There’s a ton of different heroes to choose from that do different things. One of them shoots powerful rockets and another can raise the dead to help them. Heroes can be upgraded after gaining experience, which buffs their abilities.

Along with a bunch of heroes to unlock there’s a pretty long skill tree to upgrade or unlock various things (passives or new toys) and several consumable items to buy. All these systems use a different currency, which is one of the marks that Iron Marines' mobile origins left behind. Otherwise, there are no microtransactions in sight and the game looks and feels high quality.

Enemy variety is strong here. I encountered quite a few different enemy types, and they all are pretty different. One will explode into smaller enemies on kill, another shoots like a mortar.

Let’s talk about difficulty. At first, I was completely stumped. Missions became incredibly difficult and felt like they required near-perfect play. I ended up taking this to the Steam forums and asking what’s up. The answer was that I needed to grind the earlier levels. I ended up finding out that the difficulty in Iron Marines is largely artificial. The game was made with microtransactions in mind (which are not in the Steam version). Because of this, it does what most mobile games do: require you to either grind, or pay money. The “pay money” part is cut out of the Steam release, but the marks that system has made on the game are deep and recognizable.

Iron Marines
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 72%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The controls are simplistic and well done. Most of your actions will be performed with the mouse, and that includes moving your view around the map. If anything, I would have liked to scroll the map with WASD. There is no controller support. The art is nice to look at with a 2D cartoony pixel-art style and supports the game well. I pretty much always understood where things were, although sometimes units would get lost in the clutter of enemies attacking them. The sound effects and music aren’t anything more than serviceable, which isn’t a bad thing. I didn’t encounter any bugs during play and overall it felt polished.

As for moral issues, there's bit of blood here and there and some sci-fi necromancy and magic. I never encountered any rough language unless you count a character yelling “Get away from me you BLEEP” as cursing. Yes, it makes a bleep noise instead.

Overall, Iron Marines is a game that could have done so much right but was completely hindered by a system that was made for microtransactions. The Steam version has no pay wall in front of heroes. If you’re okay with spending a lot of time grinding for various resources, and you like a more streamlined RTS, then this may be your title! I’d recommend waiting for a sale, or just grab the mobile version.

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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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