CastleStorm VR Review
If I was ever going to get into a tower defense game, it was going to be CastleStorm VR. Since the advent of the genre, I’ve never felt drawn in by the gameplay loop. Bringing the game into VR, however, provided me with some intriguing bait. I love VR. CastleStorm VR is a fun, addictive game of destruction, however, it lacks some confidence in the VR side, as if it’s afraid to go all in with the format.
The game’s story is told through too many and too frequent cutscenes. These play out from your perspective on a medieval movie screen. The setup is cute — you’ve got a tankard of soda with a straw in the cup holder, a basket of popcorn, and a few rows behind you, the king is watching, too. I found myself wishing more had been done with VR here. If I have to watch a bunch of cutscenes — I guess I didn’t HAVE to watch them, they’re skippable — then immerse me in them. Don’t just create another screen for me to watch them on. The story itself exists solely to give you new reasons to launch arrows at your enemies. There are plenty of attempts at humor throughout that fell flat for me (I can only stomach so many trips to the Arrow in the Knee well). If you’re looking for solid storytelling, look elsewhere.
“CastleStorm VR is a relatively enjoyable game with an addictive loop, and it’s easy to lose hours to it.”
Each mission tasks you with one of only a handful of goals. Typically, you must defend your own castle while destroying your opponent’s or steal your opponent’s flag while defending yours. Sometimes, you’ll have to keep troops safe while they perform a specific task, but functionally, you’re using the same weapons, magic spells, and soldiers to do the job. One real benefit to the move to VR is the ability to simply turn your head to take in the whole battlefield. No need to move the camera as in previous iterations of the game. You can probably clear the single-player campaigns in around ten hours, more if you’re all in on the occasional side quests. Not too meaty, but the real appeal is in the Survival modes.
Regardless of mode, story, survival or multiplayer, you’re using a few different types of weapons. There are launchables, things like arrows and rocks and bombs, that you fire from your ballista. You control the arc of the shot with the left stick, and I didn’t have too much trouble learning to judge enemy movement to ensure my shots would connect. Then you have your troops, foot soldiers, mounted knights, healers, that you have access to based on the types of rooms present in your castle. If you don’t have the right rooms, such as barracks for ground troops or nesting areas for winged creatures, you can’t use them in battle. (New upgrades to your castle become available throughout the campaigns, and there’s a castle editor that allows you to customize your castle, as well.) Then you have your magic spells, which provide buffs to soldiers or create shields to protect you from your enemy’s ballista. And then there are the Heroes. These are specific, named characters you summon and then control directly for a limited amount of time. They can do a ton of damage, but they have a pretty significant cool down period before they’re usable again.
Each of your weapons, spells, soldiers, and Heroes can be leveled up using gold you earn in battle. You’ll also unlock new abilities as the game progresses. I never felt encouraged to use new weapons, however, since I’d already invested so much time and gold leveling up the weapons I started with. Maybe starting new weapons at a bit of a higher default level would have made using them a little more palatable for me.
“CastleStorm VR is a fun, addictive game of destruction, however it lacks some confidence in the VR side, as if it’s afraid to go all in with the format.”
Earlier I mentioned Survival modes, and this is where a lot of fun can be had once you’re through with the single-player campaigns. As you’d expect, you face wave after wave of enemies, either with your selected Hero alone or with your full arsenal. This sort of game thrives in its gameplay loop, and you can really experience it uninterrupted here. No corny cutscenes getting in the way, just pure castle carnage.
Multiplayer is made up of three modes: a standard PVP and two cooperative Survival modes, one covering standard castle defense/destruction and the other covering Hero mode. I was disappointed to find I was never able to get a match started. Maybe when more people are playing I’ll have better luck.
The graphics are not particularly stunning. Character models are simple, as are textures, but the art design is fun and at the very least, consistent. Likewise, the sound design isn’t anything extraordinary. The music is catchy, the sound effects are over-the-top and cartoonish, as expected.
CastleStorm VR is a relatively enjoyable game with an addictive loop, and it’s easy to lose hours to it. While I wish more was done on the VR side, it’s a solid addition to the game. It doesn’t do much to improve the lackluster story or repetitive gameplay, however. Addictive or not, some variety would not hurt at all.
*** PSVR code provided by the publisher ***
- Addictive gameplay loop
- VR eliminates the need to shift camera angles
- Gameplay is repetitive
- No real incentive to new weapons