Thronefall Early Access Review: Easy to Learn, Hard to Master
Grizzly Games have built a career on creating short easy-to-learn experiences at a reasonable price. Whether this be a flight simulator, a city builder, or even a board game, every game the developers release, provides hours of entertainment and the key element that many modern games are forgetting: Fun. Thronefall is no different, and after sinking over five hours into a game that has three levels (plus a tutorial), it’s safe to say, I definitely had fun.
Thronefall is a simplistic tower defence game that involves you building your kingdom, earning money and defending it from enemies. At the beginning of the game, you will be on your own, with just enough coins to start building your castle centre. It’s up to you to strike a delicate balance with your resources, deciding whether to construct houses or mills to enhance your income or prioritise fortifications to fend off hostile forces.
“Thronefall is incredibly fun.”
Unlike typical tower defence games, you play a huge role in the action as you ride around on horseback assisting your defences. Standard attacks are triggered automatically, and a single action button is used for the majority of interactions, including building items, executing the attack phase, and using your special ability. There is a second button that is used to round up your troops and position them, but it’s as easy as pressing the button once to gather and another press to place.
The short learning curve plays a huge role in how incredibly funThronefall is. Players are thrown into the action immediately without needing to learn complex mechanics that plague many modern games. This is the typical Grizzly Games style, and they have managed to execute it perfectly for every level.
When it comes to levels, Thronefall leans on the shorter side. Apart from the tutorial, there are only three complete areas available. However, despite the game being limited, every level feels entirely unique and requires a distinct approach each time. From building boats to earn an increasing amount of money day by day, to building gold mines that provide a big payout before slowly dropping off, money is earned differently in every level.
“The only negative aspect of Thronefall is the number of levels available.”
The overall design of each level also changes significantly, influencing how you must make your strategic approach. For instance, there was a memorable scenario where the enemy had to scale a steep incline to reach the centre. By strategically deploying towers and soldiers at various points, it was easy to defend and keep the kingdom centre safe.
The only negative aspect of Thronefall is the number of levels available. Fortunately, with the early access release, the developers have made a promise to extend the game, adding more levels and, hopefully, extra weapons.
Before starting a level, you must select a weapon, perks and any mutations. Currently, there are three weapon options available; the Bow, Spear, and Sword. In my playthrough, I found it hard to appreciate the spear, with no circumstance presenting itself that using it would provide a better experience than the Bow or Sword.
Perks can also be selected before you begin, and provide the player with various bonuses based on their selections. Some perks provide increased kingdom fortifications and others increase the money earned by certain structures. Each perk feels valuable in its own right, and the game offers an extensive array of options to cater to individual playstyles.
Mutations are the final selection element and, ultimately, make the game more difficult. Players must willingly embrace the challenge, sacrificing certain aspects to earn additional points for high scores and experience points for levelling up. All of these pre-level selections add an additional strategy element to the game, and I can’t wait to see what else is added as new updates become available.
“Thronefall demands your attention and needs to be a game that you keep a close eye on.”
Despite the limited number of levels, the game offers extensive replayability. Every level requires you to use a specific selection of weapons, perks, or mutations, to unlock additional banners on a level. These requirements significantly amplify the game’s difficulty, making the task of completing these levels perfect for anyone who wants to continue playing.
Thronefall successfully pairs simplicity with fun amalgamating it into an incredible must-play indie game. For the price of £6.99 / €6.99 / USD$6.99, it provides over five hours of content, depending on how long it takes you to beat that pesky final level, which is more than worth the pricepoint for the game. With easy-to-learn strategy, great level design and incredibly fun battles, Thronefall demands your attention and needs to be a game that you keep a close eye on.