Review: Roaming Fortress is a tower defense game with a twist
At a Glance
Tower defense is a special genre of games: all tower defense games are essentially the same, and so those who are not particularly into the gameplay quickly find the games boring and repetitive.
But Brisk Mobile’s free Roaming Fortress for iOS offers an interesting twist on the formula. Instead of defending a static tower or central point while enemies move through your map, Roaming Fortress asks you to defend a moving tower.
That’s right. Your fortress is strapped to the back of a Burdenbeast—a lumbering pack animal that’s apparently large enough to saddle an entire castle. In each level, the Burdenbeast moves slowly through the map as you pitch spears, arrows, and other weapons toward waves of enemies blocking your path.
Roaming Fortress is a pretty complicated game once you get into it, but it’s easy enough to get started with. The premise is simple: get your Burdenbeast and fortress to the end of the level without dying. Along the way, you can pick up loot, destroy structures, and kill enemies (of course). You can earn three medals for each level: a kill medal, a loot goal medal, and a time medal. Medals unlock weapons, infantry, and better-fortified fortresses in the Outpost, Roaming Fortress’s in-game store.
There are two types of weapons in the game: weapons that automatically target and fire at enemies, and weapons that require manual control. Auto-firing weapons need only to be equipped, and they’ll do their job (albeit usually slower than the manual weapons) as enemies come within range. Manual weapons must be equipped and then you must target and fire at enemies using your finger. Firing manually is pretty simple, but remember that both you and your enemies are moving—so targeting might take a little practice. Weapons are also classified as long-range (for firing at enemies far away) or short-range (for firing at enemies up close), so you have to properly equip your fortress to take care of both ranges.
I like that some weapons are manually controlled, because it gives me something to do besides sitting back and waiting for the waves to come, which is what I do in most tower defense games. However, the manual weapons can be a little frustrating when you’re switching back and forth between long-range and short-range weapons.
Like other tower defense games, Roaming Fortress doesn’t let you equip all of your weapons at once—that’d be too easy. Instead, you start out with a certain number of Command Points at the beginning of each level. One Command Point typically equals one squad unit of one weapon. You can equip multiple squad units for each weapon, which allows you to shoot more of that weapon at a time (since each weapon has a cool-down period). Later in the game, more advanced weapons require more Command Points per squad unit. Depending on the level, you may gain additional Command Points as you progress.
In between levels, you can upgrade your weapons and fortress by visiting the Outpost. The Outpost is where you can trade your loot (which you pick up during your missions) for upgrades, including new weapon types, more squad units, and better fortresses with more battle positions. The first fortress only has three positions—you can equip three weapon types, but with multiple squad units of each of those types—while better fortresses have up to eight. The Outpost is where you can really start to strategize—each weapon type has different stats, including attack points, range, damage type (structural or creature), and pierce rating (for enemies wearing armor).
If you’re a fan of tower defense games, you should definitely check out Roaming Fortress. It’s a unique spin on the genre that plays out very well: it’s got excellent graphics, a nice soundtrack, and it’s plenty challenging. If you’re not so big on tower defense, you may find the game a little frustrating past the first few levels—but it’s still worth a look. The first map—which has 12 levels—is free; each additional map costs $2; or you can unlock all future maps, of which there will be at least five, for $5.