Saturday, September 22

Review: Siegecraft Commander [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Real-time strategy is in pretty short supply on the Switch overall so fans of the genre tend to get excited when they get thrown a bone. Siegecraft Commander brings a pretty unique mechanic to the console, one where you’ll build a sort of network of buildings that are interconnected to drive both your offensive and defense. While this can help you quickly build up quite a formidable presence the tricky part is that if your enemies are smart, and able to knock out a key node, every structure that is essentially a child of that one will be destroyed as well. It’s this distinction that helps set it apart from the competition, though that isn’t to say it doesn’t have its issues.

In the single-player campaign you’ll have the choice of playing as the humans or the lizardmen, and though there are both some cosmetic and strategic differences between them at the core the gameplay remains largely the same. In classic RTS fashion you’ll need to balance the desire to expand quickly and attack with the need to shore up your defenses and not leave yourself vulnerable. With the node mechanic failing to defend yourself is a particularly disastrous move, but if you like to be aggressive you can see where that gets you. Your primary means of expansion is building out with Outposts which can then act as build hubs for secondary buildings like an Armory or a Garrison. Those buildings can then build or deploy units, mount different attacks, or build additional buildings. The tech tree and how things all relate takes a little getting used to but once you get rolling it makes sense.

What really gets in the way of fun is a hodge podge of different smaller issues that slowly add up. First, there are just some dumb things like your combat units being unable to cross over the lines that network your buildings together. Sure, you can try to plan around this but as you expand it also tends to leave you with units trapped in and useless. Second, the mechanic of shooting out your new buildings to try to expand doesn’t give you very good information on whether you can build in a given spot. The specifics of the plot of land you’re trying to build on are vague at best, and when trying to position near water or other barriers you can waste time on trial and error shooting out a building and having it collapse, only to then move it a hair one way or another and it’s fine, though visually it’s all roughly the same. This just feels sloppy and wastes time as you’re trying to get your expansion on. Last, your different units and their limitations aren’t always clear, you’ll end up having to use them ineffectively and divine at what range they start or stop being effective generally, which just ends up being another element that can chip away at your time getting up to speed and maximizing your effectiveness.

Local multi-player is available and viable (though the more restricted view isn’t ideal, at least everyone is on the same page), and you’ll also have the option to play online though finding someone random to play with wasn’t terribly fruitful. I’d hoped that touchscreen support would be in place since that could have been a quicker means of control, but while oddly you can select which unit you’d like to build no other touch controls work, which was a little disappointing. Playing through both of the main campaigns will thankfully take a while though, so if you’re itching for some strategic play that’s not quite like anything else on the system Siegecraft Commander does have some worthwhile play to offer up.

Score: 7

  • The network/node idea for your buildings is a smart one, and creates an interesting layer of strategy
  • In terms of overall style of gameplay there’s nothing quite like it on the Switch
  • Two single-player campaigns that offer a fair amount of content

  • Quirks with the controls and the way units behave
  • The lack of touchscreen support is disappointing
  • While online play is supported there seems to be limited to no availability or random people to play with