Developer: Petroglyph Games
Publisher: Petroglyph Games
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
8-Bit Armies is a real-time strategy game developed and published by Las Vegas-based company Petroglyph Games. Many members of the company formerly worked on Command and Conquer during their time at Westwood Studios. Due to that game’s success and the experience the development team already has making quality games, one would assume that this game would become another beloved RTS for fans of the genre to enjoy.
Fantasy Violence/Mild Blood: Players will use a variety of soldiers, vehicles, and aircraft to strategically dispatch with opposing factions throughout the game. When both friend and foe are defeated, the use of block style explosions and blood are used.
Upon first hearing about 8-Bit Armies, I was quite excited. Though I am not a hardcore horde herding hotshot (probably not a phrase) I have enjoyed a few real time strategy games in my day, cherishing fond memories of titles like Battalion Wars and Pikmin on the GameCube and Civilization V on the Xbox 360.
8-Bit Armies’ tutorial was a standard “Click this to do the thing,” which is alright by me; the less room for me to mess it up, the better. When starting the game the player has two factions to play from: Guardians or Renegades. For my playthrough I chose the Renegades because they had more stars to collect. As soon as you load into the level you are greeted by your HQ, the base that you must protect from enemies. To do this you have to build refineries, which send out harvesters to gather resources nearby resources. Naturally, the closer the refinery is to the resources, the faster the harvesters gather them. You are only allowed to build in areas you have already built, like near your HQ. When you place a new structure your building area expands. Because of this limitation, I found myself placing unnecessary turrets at the borders of my current build-able area to extend the radius of my reach to the next resource outlet. Civilization V has a similar resource deposit system, but in that game you have the ability to send explorers to set up a new settlement and mine resources, which helps secure footholds in high value areas. The lack of this mechanic in 8-Bit Armies feels like a missed opportunity, as it would have added an element of map control and strategic base placement that could cripple your enemies, cutting them off from vital assets.
The structures you can build in your base range from refineries, power plants, barracks, motor garages, tech labs, turrets of both the bullet and rocket variety, and radio stations which expand your mini map, allowing you to spot enemy positions. From the troop menu you can decide what type of allies you want traversing the battlefield. Maybe you want a platoon of rocket troopers or mini gunners; or, you could always stock up with tanks as far as the eye can see, bulldozing enemies as you laugh laugh manically and sip apple juice from the container because you are an adult and can do whatever you want (Just me?). After the small victory of navigating the beginner stage, I had the confidence to tackle the onslaught of pixelated terrors that the AI had in store for me.
One strength of 8-Bit Armies is its simplistic design and controls. Gamers of all experience levels can pop in and play. With that being said, I found it difficult to continuously play for extended periods of time. The similar level design between different maps made every level blend together. That, coupled with some levels being repeated more than once, made progress feel cheap and unrewarding.
8-Bit Armies has a simple design and simple gameplay, but it lacks story content. Aside from a text box before selecting the next level, the plot is quite absent throughout the game. Just because a game is simple in design, does not mean it needs a matching plot. Mojang’s Minecraft is an excellent example of simplistic design with a large world full of mysteries driven by player curiosity. TellTale’s Minecraft Story Mode pairs the simplistic design of point-and-click adventure games with a more streamlined plot. Both are good examples of games that do not rely on flashy graphics and tons of particle effects to draw the eye. Solid gameplay driven by curiosity made those games memorable; by comparison, 8-Bit Armies’ poor storytelling leaves the player without the subsequent motivation to continue playing
The tone and feeling of 8-Bit Armies is that of a mobile game that got ported to PC and consoles. If they had made this a free-to-play mobile or a less expensive PC/Console game I believe it would be well received and more successful than its current state. With the game coming up on its 3rd birthday, some major story changes need to be made in order to createthe draw I believe the developers are looking for.
It is worth mentioning that Petroglyph Games has released two free DLCs for the game, incorporating a new faction and a new campaign to go along. Also, they have made two spin off titles: 8-Bit Hordes and 8-Bit Invaders, one taking place in a fantasy setting and the other adopting a sci-fi aesthetic. All three games have cross-game multiplayer capabilities, which is a rarity in today’s day and age.
Overall, 8-Bit Armies has simple design and game play, reminiscent of a mobile free-to-play game with a lackluster story. In the current state the game is not worth the $29.99 price tag. However, if they were to implement a more engaging narrative, then along with the cross-game multiplayer you would have a fairly solid pick-up-and-play game that all ages would enjoy.
Thank you for reading my review. Let me know what you think of this. If you like it, tell your friends. If you hate it, tell your enemies. Also, if you are interested in being a part of my process, I have a YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitch channel that I post to weekly with live streams. Be sure to follow so you will be up-to-date with everything. Thank you very much and God Bless!
Review code generously provided by Soedesco.
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