Welcome, Commanders! The reason we’ve brought you here today is to match generating resource nodes while strategising in a turn based manner, all while causing complete carnage amidst a Victorian era backdrop – got it? Good!
Wait, what do you mean you’re confused?
On paper, Ironcast does sounds confusing. Even as early as the tutorial you’d be forgiven for not keeping up with all the information coming your way. But oh my word is it a good game. It really is. It’s genuinely one of the most intelligent combat games I’ve played for quite some time and it’s firmly lodged in the ‘I dare you to put the controller down’ category. You play as a big ass titan-esque walking machine called an Ironcast (think of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit on steroids) and you battle it out by each taking turns matching generating resource nodes.
Your four resources that need filling are Ammo, Energy, Coolant and Repair. So instead of matching nodes as quickly as you can, more thought and restraint is needed. Finding a balance is key. Obviously if you just go for firepower, you’re leaving your defences down. And you can walk, making your Ironcast harder to shoot, but then you run the risk of expelling too much energy. Not forgetting that you can’t run out of coolant because you’ll overheat. It’s like there’s a million questions being asked and you only have 4 answers. But here in lies the joy in Ironcast. The battles are so ridiculously fun, and there’s no better feeling than when you down an enemy and move onto the next English battleground. Before you do however, make sure you nip into the workshop and pay to repair your bruised but still standing Ironcast. Don’t get carried away. You’re in for the long haul, trust us.
Now, here’s the kicker. If you die, you have to start all over again. Deaths are permanent. It was not the most welcome surprise when I first experienced it. Not to mention the first section is a whopping 9 battles. To be fair, there is the odd rest bite in the form of negotiation levels (that don’t require you to eat shrapnel), but even so it can undoubtedly be a bitter bullet to take if you make it to battle 8 and then kick the bucket. But the good news is from any hard fought campaign you get to keep hard earned upgrades too, or Commendation marks as they are called.
Moreover, the more you play the game, the more it becomes obvious that it really wouldn’t have worked to have nice, friendly little checkpoints. It’s really not what the game is about. Ironcast is about making calculated, yet possibly risky decisions based on the cards your dealt. It’s that rare breed of video game that will have you racking your brain just as much as filling your gun rack. Brains and brawn are definitely both required. The real no brainer part here is whether you should pick this up. As steampunk mech combat experiences go, Ironcast is swinging for the fences – not just visually but also (and most importantly) in the accumulation of crazily addictive gameplay. Time to suit up Consortium Commanders, your time is now.
Dreadbit and Ripstone have delivered a genuinely thrilling and unique take on the match-3 genre to Xbox One. Seriously, Ironcast is a bulletproof jewel of a game. Don’t miss out.