App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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If you’ve been keeping up with mobile for any amount of time, it’s likely you’ve heard of Ironhide Studios. They’ve firmly established themselves as a top-tier mobile developer with the quality of the Kingdom Rush tower defense series. After a brief stint of trying something different with the wonderful Iron Marines, Ironhide Studios has gone back to basics with Kingdom Rush Vengeance, yet another tower defense game that has all the polish and flair you could hope for.
Just like previous Kingdom Rush games, Vengeance is about strategically placing towers so you can kill enemy units before they can reach some sort of goal point. The main twist that Vengeace brings to this formula is the fact that you're playing as the bad guys.
This means that all the orcs, death knights, skeletons, and goblins you were in charge of killing in previous games are now under your control as you vie to defeat the knights and elves that took it from you. Although this may make Vengeance sound like more of a tower offense game, this isn't the case. You're still building towers to defeat forces that rush toward you, just like you have in every other Kingdom Rush game.
Although there isn't a huge amount that Vengeance does to change up its tower defense formula, the key to this game's success is the amount of customization it offers. Where previous Kingdom Rush games offered all the same towers for you to build in a level, Vengeance offers a custom loadout of five. On top of that, each tower has a set of three, distinct power-ups you can invest in once a tower has reached its max level.
This, combined with the fact that the game offers a diverse set of hero characters with their own upgrade trees and equippable items, and it's clear that Vengeance is the biggest, baddest Kingdom Rush game yet. To help you experiment with all of this choice, Vengeance also offers up unique challenges for each of its levels that force you to try new combinations of towers, heroes, and items to succeed.
Tower defense is a pretty well-worn genre on mobile, but the secret ingredient that makes Ironhide releases so special is the way each game is immensely detailed and polished. The same is true here for Vengeance. It's a super colorful game, with backgrounds that bustle with activity. Moreover, the levels have clever and unique quirks and the sense of balance throughout the game feels really well thought through.
If I had to take some umbrage with Vengeance, it would be the same issue I had with their previous release, Iron Marines. Even though both are premium games, both offer additional content that is locked away behind a paywall, and there's also some consumable currency you can buy more of to purchase single-use items. To be fair, I was able to complete Vengeance without engaging with any of its monetization systems, but their mere presence cheapens an experience that is otherwise immaculate.
The bottom line
Kingdom Rush Vengeance proves there is still room for new, great tower defense games on an App Store that sometimes feels overloaded with them. Although it still has some annoying monetization stuff in it, Kingdom Rush Vengeance is the biggest and baddest the series has been. A few IAPs doesn't change the fact that this is a must-buy.