Saturday, January 26

Review: Swords & Soldiers [Nintendo Switch eShop]

When people think of more casual strategy gaming tower defense is usually what comes to mind, but I’ve seen a growing number of titles that invert the formula a bit, going more for tower offense. While many of the same principles apply, collecting resources, creating units, and carefully managing your battlefield with whatever supplemental control you have, adding a little more aggression to the mix can be fun. In the case of Swords & Soldiers the silly and colorful characters, consistent but manageable challenge, and engaging combat make it a great pick for gamers of all ages and skill levels.

I’ll admit that particularly in docked mode I initially struggled to figure out what precisely I was supposed to be doing since there’s really no tutorial or explanations, but once I understood the use of ZL for managing anything consuming gold and ZR for anything consuming mana it clicked. In most cases early on you’ll need to focus on building units for gathering gold, quickly researching some basic units and skills, and the perhaps getting an exploratory unit going while you’re getting your gold reserves and abilities established.

In the early stages you can somewhat stumble your way to victory as you learn the fundamentals of what role each unit fulfills and proper spell use to help them out. Whether in the form of targeted healing or zapping or slowing enemies you’ll want to make smart use of your mana reserves, not always intervening but perhaps choosing critical moments to lend help. I found my favorite use of mana was for triggering my ground units to rush to the front lines quicker. So much of the time as you roll along success if built on grouping your units to maximize their impact, so this skill plays a major role in beefing up the punch of your attacks. Of course this means you’ll need to keep moving back and forth between your base and the front lines, but it beats simply being an observer and watching your units get squashed.

With campaigns spanning 4 different factions, each with their own units, skirmishes that allow you to tee up whatever showdown you’d like, and even multiplayer options there’s quite a number of hours of fun in this budget package. It plays well in docked mode but probably shines the best in handheld mode, with everything working quickly and intuitively once you’re on board. While it may lack a hardcore challenge if you’re not showing some smarts it will push back on you pretty hard, making this a solid choice for some casual strategy fun.

Score: 8

  • Generally light strategic play but it will push back if you’re not playing smart
  • A silly bunch of characters and story beats that are thoroughly odd and fun
  • Multiple factions, each with their own units, keep things from getting too stale

  • For experienced strategy game fans it may not pose enough of a challenge
  • No initial direction on controls in docked mode made for a bumpy start