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CastleStorm: Definitive Edition review for Xbox One, PS4


Platform: Xbox One
Also on: PS4
Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Originally released on the seventh generation of consoles, Castlestorm brought a blend of structure creation mixed with realtime 2D tower defense. While I never got my hands on the original game, CastleStorm: Definitive Edition landed in our hands for a spin around the block to see what Zen Studios has whipped up as a complete experience for this seige-based action game.

It's tough to explain CastleStorm, actually, other than reiterating the pitch of building with Legos as children, and then seeing how they stack up in destructive scenarios. If any of that grabs your attention, then you may want to tune in.

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The Definitive Edition of CastleStorm includes a collection of DLC and additions not present in the original game, which we'll get out of the way now: included with the original release are expansions From Outcast to Savior and The Warrior Queen, both delivering another 20-battle campaign along with some new classes and toys to tinker with. The Definitive Edition gets its own slew of extra single-player battles and survival modes, along with a facelift thanks to the more powerful hardware it's running on.

What is unchanged, however, is the gameplay, which as a newcomer to the series found to be an unbalanced mix of tower defense and 2D brawler. Both parts perform well enough, but mixing them up together (underneath the layer of designing your own fortresses) never struck the right balance for me. I actually enjoyed the more focused goals in the game where playing only as a soldier, or manning the tower's range weapons were easier to manage, and gave the right limits to challenge players in a way that feels designed.

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CastleStorm, as a game, suffers from a case of presenting players with too many options at one time. This will vary from player-to-player, and may even click with some, but I would also consider that this is not a game that lends itself well to being played on consoles. Navigating the battlefield, and aiming especially, felt too loose to play comfortably. I much preferred laying waste to enemies as a knight, but with resource limitations placed on any mode of defense, was shooed away from an approach that feels more complimentary to playing with a controller.

It is nice to find a game that allows for local multiplayer, however, which is a rarity in the living room these days. Granted, it's a carry-over from the original game, but it's also one more feather in CastleStorm's cap, of which a game based on pitting two towering fortresses against each other would logically lend itself to making the most of.

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For those drawn to its style, or looking for a game with some local multiplayer, then they'll find a lot to do here. While I never acclimated entirely to its assembly of genres, and the control scheme of the tower defense portion on a console, the game is quite forgiving in a way that suggests Zen Studios is just as aware that they've got a couple more ingredients than the recipe called for. Luckily, that margin of error more often than not makes up for most of CastleStorm's stumbles. While Zen Studios' ambition may be misplaced in what CastleStorm is, it's a welcome quality in delivering this "complete" version of their original game.

Grade: B-