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Swords & Soldiers

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 18 - 2019

Casual strategy on the Switch.

Ronimo’s strategy done simple game Swords & Soldiers is now available on the Nintendo Switch. Given that it is some ten years since the game that introduced the idea of Vikings loving cooked meat was originally launched, could it now be appearing on Switch in answer to the current trend of vegan eating? No, probably not. It is more likely down to the trend of packing the Switch library with older games, and also have something to do with the superior sequel, Swords & Soldiers II, also coming to Switch in March. With not long to wait for the sequel to arrive, is there any reason to pick up this casual take on unit and resource management? Put simply, hell yeah!

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Swords & Soldiers plays very much like a mobile real time strategy game, with simple ideas. However, that simplicity hides a cunning level of complexity that will get even the toughest of armchair generals licking their lips with interest.

The game plays in 2D, presented on a simple level with the home base on the left and the enemy base on the right. While there may be different objectives from one mission to the next, the idea is generally to send units from the home base to destroy the enemy base. Doing so is as simple as it comes, requiring the player to pay out some gold for a unit to be produced at the home base. That soldier will then start making their way towards the right, fighting anything that gets in their way, until they are either defeated or reach the enemy base. Obviously the enemy will be sending units from the right to the left at the same time, and so it may take a while to clear the way and actually reach the enemy.

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To keep the flow of units coming, the player will need gold, and as such can create gold gathering units to either mine gold, or to collect one off gifts of gold found along the path. Sometimes the path will split into two and the player will have to choose which route to take, by just tapping an arrow on screen. Often times, one route will lead to some extra gold, along with more risk, so players will have to make their decisions about how brave they feel. Again, it is worth noting that the opposing player will also be trying to get this extra gold, so collecting it may also hamper their efforts.

Different units are available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses along with varying costs, and so players will also have to consider whether to save up for a stronger unit, or simply flood the level with weaker, cheaper units in order to overwhelm the enemy. When it comes to spending the gold, there are also upgrades to think of, unlocking new units and making other aspects more powerful. Deciding when to upgrade really can shape the way a game goes, as not having the right strength of unit at a given time can really cause problems.

Players will also have a mana bar to think about, giving access to magical powers that can affect the battlefield in real time. As the units generally act for themselves, this is the only real way for players to interact with what is going on in battle, and things such as healing spells or massive lightning bolts can really turn the tide. With a whole bunch of units all huddled together at a hotspot, selecting a single unit to use magic on can be tricky, but such is the chaos of war. Again the player will be left with a decision as the mana bar slowly fills, whether to save up for a more powerful ability or quickly play something cheaper. It is these decisions of when to spend and what on that give the game its real depth.

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There are three factions to play with in the game; Vikings, Chinese and Aztecs. Each faction has their own campaign that must be completed before being able to use that faction in other modes, and they must be worked through in order, starting with the Vikings. This first campaign is fairly simple, and things get much more tricky once the player moves onto the other factions, each of which bring their own new units and abilities to the table. A fourth faction, Chief Meat’s army, round out the campaigns and set the player up for some brilliantly fun head to head battles against friends on the Switch’s little screen. Playing against another human player really opens the game up, and while it may be a shame that online play is not an option, there is something far more satisfying when being able to look your opponent in the face as you unleash ninja monkeys on their force. Happy times.

Swords & Soldiers has a charming visual style that, while improved over the original release, is no real change from the more recent HD remaster on Wii U. That’s not a problem, the game looks great and the bright colours combine with the ever-present humour to make a very happy game. The four campaigns will keep players going for a little while, but the multiplayer options will keep them coming back.

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Swords & Soldiers on Switch may be primarily released to herald the upcoming sequel, but that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked. As an introduction to the Swords & Soldiers style of RTS, it is the best place to start. The touchscreen controls work perfectly, and make the game ideal for playing out and about. Swords & Soldiers is bright, colourful, strategic fun and a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.




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