App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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iOS games that are purely free are a rare find. Most "free" games--even if they boast no in-app purchases--feature ads or some other time-wasting elements that make them difficult to enjoy. Battlecruisers doesn't have this problem. This real-time strategy game presents some simple fun and asks for nothing in return, which is pretty neat.
Battlecruisers is a single-player strategy game where you compete to build a naval arsenal that bests your opponents'. Each side of the conflict has one main vessel which you can build nodes on. These nodes can strengthen your economy, provide some defense, or allow for you to begin attacking the enemy ship, depending on what you choose to build.
As a game that moves in real time, the trick to Battlecruisers is to observe, anticipate, and counter enemy builds. With a wide variety of nodes and units to build, there's a few different ways to do this in any given scenario. This can seem overwhelming at first, but Battlecruisers keeps things simple at the beginning, offering only a few different build options before unlocking more down the road. If that weren't enough, there's also a button you can press to slow down the action.
Battlecruisers displays all of its naval combat action using a silhouetted look that is nice and readable. In some ways it's reminiscent of simple-but-effective visual stylings of old flash games. Without much use of color, it can result in some confusion around the kind of boat you're fighting against, but for the most part that doesn't really matter.
I say that because Battlecruisers isn't all that difficult. You can use the same basic strategy in most situations and come out victorious. This is because most difficulty settings allow you as the player to build faster than the AI enemies, so you can outpace their output even if you make some mistakes or they move to counter.
The only time I experienced challenge in Battlecruisers was in the final level of the 25 level campaign with the difficulty cranked all the way up. At this point, there were just a few too many variables to account for that forced me to change things up to earn a victory.
Just because I breezed through the rest of the game doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though. There was a simple satisfaction in optimizing a path to victory on every level, even if that was just a matter of maximizing my build speed (as opposed to making any significant changes to my overall strategy).
The bottom line
Battlecruisers may be lacking somewhat in looks and challenge, but it's got more substance than a lot of other "free" games without any kind of monetization or engagement hooks whatsoever. With this in mind, it's easy to recommend to anyone looking for a new strategy experience on their tablet.