Ironhide Game Studios has moved their popular Kingdom Rush series to Apple's subscription gaming service. Is it worth paying $4.99 to play the newest title in the series? Probably not, but you can get a month free which is plenty enough time to test out Legends of Kingdom Rush. This is not a tower defence game, instead it's a "epic turn-based combat" RPG with roguelike elements.
Legends of Kingdom Rush features Ironhide's signature style with plenty of Easter eggs from the Kingdom Rush universe, but it is a tough game that makes you replay the same levels over and over. The adventure begins when you escape your prison in the Linerean Castle which has fallen to the Dark Army's rule. You must make your way through different worlds while battling through grid-based combat and making decisions that will affect your game. Ironhide promises over 100 different narratives, 5 legendary heroes and 11 companion heroes to unlock. This is probably the only advantage to the subscription model, no IAPs or paid content. You have access to all 16 heroes, you just have to unlock them.
Legends features 4 worlds where your party advances from node to node to try and reach the final stage. A node can contain a battle, a dice game or a friendly place to rest or stock up on supplies. Each battle features turn-based combat where you'll need to strategically use your party's skills to survive. The dice games typically include a decision where you can use supplies or luck to gain experience or suffer consequences. This may sound simple but it's actually quite challenging. There's no stat or supply mining, meaning you'll need to push on with injured party members and meager supplies. One bad dice roll can set you back, and healing potions are in short supply. The worst part of the game is that you have to start at the beginning of each world when all 3 or 4 of your party members die. You do get some experience after each failure, but this just unlocks more skills that your heroes can choose from when they upgrade. You'll lose all your items and progress if you die.You also lose all your progress at the beginning of each new world. This is the most frustrating part of the game. The developers claim it's to make Legends more fun and challenging. That you need to keep playing to get better, and that you should experiment with different party members to enjoy the game, but I disagree. The fun thing about RPGs is making progress and using those earned skills against harder villains as the game difficulty increases. It kind of sucks having to start over against weaker each time you complete a new worlds. I assume this is supposed to be the roguelike element of the game, but I think it will turn a lot of people off. There's no reward for advancing to a new world. You don't get to keep your unlocked skills, new party members or items.
If you enjoy RPGs then you should enjoy Legends, especially if you like a challenge. The game has all the necessary elements that it takes to make an enjoyable turn-based adventure. Plus it takes place in the fun and colorful, Easter egg filled world of Kingdom Rush. There's lots of achievements to complete and fun and colorful characters for you to unlock. Each hero has their own style, personality and skills for you to choose from. I do think a lot of people will be turned off by the difficulty and having to start over each time you complete a world. Ironhide might want to consider more of a reward system in a future update.
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The game also gets a lot easier once you find your perfect combination of heroes, skills and strategy. The achievements are really the only thing that give this game any replay value one you've defeated the final boss. Ironhide has always been great at updating its games with more adventures and characters. It is safe to assume Legends will be supported with new content for a long time after its release since it is available on Apple Arcade. Hopefully this does not mean Ironhide is done with the tower defence titles. I'm still waiting for an endless mode on Kingdom Rush Vengeance.