Whenever you come across one of those matching puzzle games, the fear of repetition comes crawling into your brain. Some overcome it with good writing (Scurvy Scallywags), others use a dating simulation approach (HuniePop). In the case of Dreadbit and Redstone's Ironcast, there's at least a nice twist to how the matching works to your favor. However after spending many hours playing, I came to realize that this twist wore out its metallic welcome far too quickly.
Taking place in a steampunk world, Ironcast places you in the Victorian era. In this alternate timeline massive mechs are being piloted by the most posh and elegant of soldiers. We're talking frilly dresses, top hats & monocles, and the most aristocratic dialogue being delivered during the heat of the battle. As you face off against your enemies and try to blow them up, you'll be tasked to reload your weaponry, power, and shields via the aid of a puzzle game.
Using the Switch controller or the touchscreen, you'll have to link up the same colored items in order to boost up your power. While doing so you'll be given the option to have your shields go up or get your mech to move. As you defeat one enemy after another, the tasks and foes become more trickier and difficult to handle. In-between the he battles, you'll be able to fix up your mech, buy upgrades, and grab some even better equipment for the next fight to occur.
These upgrades are necessary in Ironcast, as I found out the hard way. If you find yourself snuffing it, you'll have to start the game all over again. While your earnings stay, all your progress gets wiped away. That'll mean repeating and battles, which to some may be a hassle. However with enough earnings you'll be given the opportunity to grab yourself some better-skilled soldiers and more powerful mechs to wipe away the enemy.
All of this sounds rather exciting, and at first it is. The fear of losing everything stays with you as you play along and defeat one enemy after another, with the chance of the next enemy taking you out reaching higher odds each time. Choosing which colors to link up also keeps you on your toes as you play, with each strategic move you make leading you towards either the path of victory or defeat. Fortunately there will be some bonuses lurking in the puzzle, such as the ability to link more than one color together in one turn.
However after maybe a couple hours playing Ironcast, I began to notice its flaws. Under its gorgeous steampunk visuals was the body of your average run-of-the-mill puzzler. While nowhere near as annoying as any of the Candy Crush titles out there, it still left me weak in the eyelids after I spent mission after mission doing the exact same thing.
It's a real shame, as this game had a great look to it and a fun story to boot. I'm a sucker for these sorts of Victorian-era steampunk adventures, and seeing these soldiers talking with elegance and pep gave me a huge grin on my face. But in order for a game to keep my attention -- especially one with this sort of puzzle mechanic -- there needs to be something unique about it. Unfortunately after all my time with this game, I can't name one vast difference Ironcast features that these other titles don't.
- Nice steampunk visuals
- Challenging fights
- Decent amount of replay value
- Repetitive gameplay
- Matching system too familiar
Although there's an entertaining story and some good enemy AI, the fact remains that Ironcast feels as average as all the other puzzlers out there. It's not a terrible game by any means, but there are many other titles that play nearly identically to it. Grab it if you are as big a sucker for some steampunk shenanigans, but skip out on it if you are still recovering from your Candy Crush addiction.
Promotional consideration provided by Michelle Turner of Ripstone. Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
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