by Michael Stallworth
reviewed on PC
Most real time strategy games that come out basically fall into two camps; there are the PC-based strategy games that are geared towards old school, more hardcore gamers; and then there are strategy games built for mobile platforms, which are marketed towards casual gamers. Itís an interesting contrast that the strategy genre encompasses two types of games that couldnít be more polar opposites. Traditional strategy games, such as Starcraft or Age of Empires, are defined by the careful management of time, resources, and soldiers; while mobile based strategy games, such as Clash of Clans or Game of War, are centered around idle gameplay, broken up by quick bursts of battle scenarios that often have little to do with strategy. Crush Your Enemies is an interesting undertaking, as it is a game that wants to deliver challenging real time strategy gameplay in quickly consumable bites on PC or mobile devices. Unfortunately, while Crush Your Enemies is entertaining enough to rise above most mobile strategy games, its gameplay isnít involved enough to be anything more than a pleasant distraction on PC.
Before I had even started the tutorial for Crush Your Enemies the first thing that made a major impression on me was the story. The game has you don the horned helm of Brog the Barbarian, who seeks to pillage, plunder, and drink in the land of Generia. One of the first things youíll notice about Crush Your Enemies is its sense of humor, the gameís story and characters riff on many common fantasy tropes that are present in many games. While it is clear that the developers were having fun, I am sorry to say that I was not. Crush Your Enemiesí humor is strange and uneven throughout the game. In the beginning I found many of the jokes to be genuinely funny, the lampooning of fantasy tropes worked well with the gameís cartoonish art style. But as I made my way through the game, I would see more and more jokes that were undoubtedly seen by the gameís writers as edgy or adult. These jokes are neither edgy nor adult, with most of them centering around beer and poop, and seeming to be totally at odds with the rest of the gameís humor. I want to make it clear that Iím not some fundamentalist who wants museums to cover the nudity in paintings, I love a good dirty joke more than most. But, the dirty jokes in Crush Your Enemies just arenít funny, rather they feel like what a group of 6th graders would come up with if you asked them to think of some adult jokes. This isnít helped by the fact that so many of these jokes feel randomly shoehorned into the dialogue to the point that some are genuinely jarring when they appear. The entire story feels like the developers set out to make a family friendly game, then at the last minute were given the greenlight to add some more adult humor, so they decided to throw in jokes at random moments without any regard for tone or context.
The Mobile Influence
To work on mobile devices, the gameplay in Crush Your Enemies is much simpler than an average PC strategy game. All actions are performed by a single mouse button, which is used to move your troops around the battlefield. It should be said that although Crush Your Enemies is a strategy game, it does not have a resource management component like most RTS games. Rather the game focuses on troop management, anyone whoís played the game Galcon will have a pretty good idea of the game mechanics. Every battle starts with the player and the opponent both having some starting units, these units act as both fighters and the means to create more soldiers. As your army captures buildings on the map, those buildingís begin auto-spawning units, the more units you have stationed at the building, the faster the spawn rate, this means that players must balance the number of troops they send into battle with the number of troops they keep behind to ensure a steady supply of new units.
Though the gameplay sounds simple, it proves to be both challenging and satisfying. Itís a refreshing break from the usual RTS mechanic of resource management, which too often devolves into a war of attrition where the side that has the most stuff wins. Crush Your Enemies is one of the few games that feels truly strategic, in the sense that itís entirely possible for a smaller force to defeat a larger one through clever troop formations and waiting for the perfect time to strike. As the gameplay progresses, the battles become more complicated by adding new building types, which can turn your base level units into stronger or more specialized units such as archers, knights, or wizards. Crush Your Enemies also does a fairly good job of delivering the battles in bite sized chunks. Every campaign mission has three achievement tiers that can be completed for higher scores and more rewards. But the base level achievement for many of the levels is to simply survive for 2 or 3 minutes. I could see this mechanic working great on mobile platforms, because it gives players the satisfaction of beating a level without worrying about a huge time investment. However, I found that on a PC that the base level objective was often too easy to obtain, I realize that the more difficult objectives are meant to remedy this problem, but it is just one more thing that makes Crush Your Enemies feel like itís made for people that have nothing better to do, rather than someone who is looking for a deep strategic experience.
Crush Your Enemies is a great mobile strategy game, itís so good that it provides a genuinely fun experience on PC. However, while the gameplay is fun it canít help but feel like a pleasant distraction rather than an immersive experience. This lack of substance is not helped by a somewhat irritating story and a sometimes low difficulty curve. All in all, if you are looking for a game to kill some idle minutes at your desk, you should definitely pick up Crush Your Enemies for PC, but if youíre hungering for an in-depth RTS game you should probably look elsewhere.
Unique and Satisfying Strategic Gameplay
Annoying Story, Game Experience is fairly shallow for a PC game