by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Light strategy on 2D battlefields
Age of Steel: Recharge is a fun little title by developer Quaint Emerald that mixes tower defense with some light real time strategy elements in a static 2D battlefield that puts you in control of ground and air vehicles to crush your enemy. It’s not a particularly deep game, but it's one that does what it modestly sets out to do fairly well, resulting in a game that may not have a ton of staying power, but is largely worth its price for a few hours of fun.
Age of Steel: Recharge doesn’t bring anything wholly new or original to the table, but there are a few twists that keep battles interesting. You’ve got an automatically running “mine” that produces resources, and in theory this limits how fast you can spend. I, however, rarely had to wait for more to spend, making it mostly a non-issue. You’ll need to spend those precious resources on units to protect three different zones: the ground, mid air, and high air. Each one comes with a number of upgradable units that can become more powerful as you spend the time and resources to upgrade your base, but you’ll have to be careful as you’ll only be able to have 12 units on the field at any given time.
On one hand, yes, a lack of depth beyond the aforementioned makes the game rather simplistic. On the other, I’m alright with a game that doesn’t aim to be overly complicated, and is able to deliver what it aims to do well. Matches are quick and hectic, lasting, in my experience, between five and ten minutes for the majority of the levels. I enjoyed going through the motions, but I wish that there was a higher difficulty ceiling. After playing for about an hour (the campaign takes a bit under two hours to beat in full) I noticed that I’d never lost once, with only one level having me even come close. I’m certainly no strategy savant, and only one or two levels gave me more than brief issue, so raising the difficulty a bit might have been a smart move.
There are two ways to play Age of Steel: a short campaign mode and a survival mode. I jumped into the campaign first, and despite its issues I did have a fair amount of fun. First, I should clarify that while it’s called a campaign, there isn’t really any story to speak of. There’s a generic backdrop shared with you via a few still text screens at the beginning of the game (two factions are warring for power in the future!), but none of the levels actually move that forward at all. Winning in certain scenarios does unlock new levels, and occasionally you’ll return to a map to start off with all the unlocks open that you opened last time you were there. The Survival mode is similar, consisting of a number of situations unlocked from the campaign.
Sheep in Wolf’s clothing?
I’m not sure if it is, but Age of Steel: Recharge definitely seems like a mobile game due to its user interface and general playstyle. The quick, 10ish-minute games are fun for brief bouts of gaming, but the format definitely seems more like something suited for a mobile device than a PC. In fact, after playing it on my computer for this review I popped open my phone to see if I could find it since I largely enjoyed my time and could use a new game to mess around with now and then (for the record, it wasn’t there). I think that the game’s focus on quick bursts without much to build towards outside of those chunks hurts its longevity. While I enjoyed my few hours with the game, I don’t really feel compelled to go back and play it again. The UI also seems mobile-oriented, with square icons located around the screen that seem perfectly suited for tapping and only “okay” for clicking. Additionally, while I’m speaking about a few things that bothered me, there are some obvious grammatical errors. It looks like an issue with an auto-translate, but it’s something that should be taken care of since it makes some elements in the game strange to read.
Fun, small game
Age of Steel: Recharge isn’t a game that you’re going to keep coming back to for months, but it’s one you’ll enjoy a couple of hours with. While I wouldn’t have minded a bit more depth, it’s functional, polished (aside from a few grammar issues) and fun. I can’t recommend enough that the developers consider porting it to mobile, but there’s enjoyment to be had on PC as well.
Quick games are great for killing a half hour, the sound is nice
UI isn’t great, grammar errors, not much longevity