Swords & Soldiers
Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Release Date: 25 January 2019
Price: $7.49 / £6.79
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Swords & Soldiers, from developer Two Tribes, is definitely not a new game as it had been on the recently departed Wii Shop Channel since 2009. A HD port was released on Wii U, but now the game has come to the Nintendo Switch, providing all of it’s simplistic charm to Nintendo’s latest console.
Keep It Simple
When you think of a real-time strategy title, what usually comes to mind are Command & Conquer or Starcraft - as you micromanage every aspect of your army from an overhead perspective. Swords & Soldiers wants to be different though, instead played like a 2D side-scroller with only two possible directions to move in, making it much simpler in scope. It doesn’t want to load you down and hassle you with the micromanaging of every single unit on the battlefield.
The core gameplay premise is to destroy the enemy base all the way on the other side of the playing field, while protecting your own clan from whatever your opponent may throw at you. First, you’ll recruit your gold miners so that you get a steady stream of currency coming and then you can start amassing troops and unlocking spells. Sword & Soldiers does not hold your hand for too long though, and you’ll be up and running in less than a couple of minutes. All you really need to start a full-on assault is a continuous flow of money, and the game thankfully throws you into the action without much delay. The gameplay lends itself well to quick jump in-and-out sessions, and I really enjoyed this approach, rather than having matches that last for hours.
The main game is split up into four separate campaigns, each with a focus on a different faction. These include Vikings, Aztecs, Chinese, and Chief Meat (a special type of Viking that is very hungry). Each faction plays very differently from one another, acting as much more than simple reskins to add plenty of variety to the gameplay. Each faction has a different assortment of units to get used to. For example, the Aztecs have a giant golem that sends enemies flying, the Chinese have wizards that choke their opponents to death, and the Vikings can have Thor’s hammer fall from the sky for some serious destruction.
There’s also a healthy variety of weapons and generic troops at your disposal - coming in the form of light and heavy infantry, as well as units who are able to cast spells. You’ll need to find the best combination of forces to counteract what your opponents throw at you, as just unleashing a flurry of the same unit type will end in defeat more often than not. These units also automatically march towards the enemy base and there’s no way to stop them, so you’ll also need to know when is the right time to send them out. The combination of all these things make for some challenging yet satisfying gameplay.
Each campaign has ten missions each, culminating in 40 stages altogether and most of the time is spent just simply trying to level an enemy’s base. To avoid that getting repetitive though, other ideas have been added in, such as trying to survive an enemy invasion or making sure a small band of troops reach their destination safely.
Switch It Up
Now on the Nintendo Switch you can use the touch screen, much like how you would issue commands on a mobile device. You can also still use the Joy-Con, but I found this method of control less intuitive and clunkier than simply jabbing at the touchscreen. Since Swords & Soldiers only requires one push finger presses to recruit troops rather than convoluted button presses from the Joy-Con, it’s much more enjoyable played in handheld mode.
Visually, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, with its cartoony art style bursting with an assortment of bright colors. The backgrounds are also gorgeous, featuring snowy areas, barren deserts, and lands covered in cherry blossoms. The soundtrack follows the action on-screen well too, and complements the cartoony graphics excellently. Each track coincides with each faction or environment, adding some wonderful personality to the proceedings.
On top of the Campaign mode, there are three different mini game challenges, where you try to get highest score possible. Whether that means trying to survive for as long as you can, keeping up with a continuous invasion, or seeing how long you can keep a single unit alive, it adds even further variety to the simple gameplay mechanics. If you have a friend nearby, you can play local multiplayer matches, however there is no online multiplayers which is disappointing.
Swords & Soldiers is a worthy title to add to your Switch library if you crave a fun and simple tower-defence game. There isn’t anything fancy or new about this re-release - bar the touchscreen support - but it does look good on the Switch and the gameplay is immediately accessible to anyone. If the concept of a 2D side-scrolling RTS title, mixed in with a palatable amount of micromanagement sounds like fun, Swords & Soldiers is the game for you.
Pros & Cons
+ Simple and easy to learn gameplay mechanics
+ Touch controls
+ Colourful graphics and charming music
- Joy-Con controls are unintuitive
- Lack of new content
- No online play