Ripstone’s Ironcast Review – Steampunk Meets Puzzles

Ripstone’s Ironcast is currently out now for Steam users, and will be released for the Xbox One and PS4 on the 4th March.  We got an advanced copy of the game to test out, and two of our reviewers gave it a try.  With positive reactions already hitting the media, did we agree with the other reviewers?  You’ll have to read on to found out.

Iron Cast 1

Laura

Steampunk meets puzzles you say?  Seems like an interesting mix.  When I first heard about this game, it sounded like something I’d definitely be interested in playing, but did it live up to its expectations?

At first I wasn’t convinced.  I started the game up and was given a story about how the French and the British are at war over some kind of material.  My aim was to put on an Ironclad (a form of armour that’s capable of carrying guns, shields and the like) and fight against other Ironclads in order to save the country.  I went through the tutorial and found it super confusing – I really think the developers could have come up with a better way to take you through everything you need to know – and almost gave up on the game there and then.

However, I’m glad I didn’t.

I continued playing and once I’d got my head around what I needed to do, and how to do it, I actually really enjoyed playing.  Similar to Candy Crush in that you need to match gems of the same colour to clear them, Ironcast makes you need to strategise a bit more, as each coloured gem gives you something you need, such as ammo, coolant, energy or repairs.  The puzzles did make me start to strategise, and with the added bonus of attacking the French (joke!) in order to save Hastings and Crawley (no, I’m not joking) I got quite into it.

A couple of things I do think could be improved on though include the AI and the tutorial.  The latter I’ve already mentioned, but the former seems to be pretty one sided.  Every round starts with the AI able to attack you first as your guns are charging, so you’re literally just left hoping to get enough energy to build up shields and defences instead of being able to go out fighting.  A lot of the time, I found it to be more luck than anything else as to whether I’d manage to survive or not… :/

Will Ironcast be the next big puzzle game?  It’s unlikely.  But as a way to pass a few hours on a Friday afternoon, I found it enjoyable, and probably would pick it up again.

Jess

As Laura mentions, Ironcast throws Steampunk mecha-suits into a match 3 type strategy puzzler. It also adds some nice depth by allowing upgrades and investing your hard earned scrap into blueprints. I found the tutorial pretty straight forward. The story is decently written, if wordy, and new game play elements were introduced at a well paced manner. Progressing into the story, the game difficulty ramps up quickly and you fight your way across the map in a series of match 3 vs battles against AI.

For me, any game play fun to be had is annoyingly lost by the complete rush job of getting this from PC to console. There is little effort of device optimisation save for a bare minimum ‘tickbox’ mentality; adding controller symbols to Front-end UI, and giving the Left stick mouse movement functionality. It leaves for a fiddly, awkward experience, detracting from the core game.  GUI was cut off around the borders of my screen, leaving for unfinished information. There did not seem to be an option to adjust the HUD so I was left second guessing what was what. With an already narrow font choice, text is bizarrely squashed into tiny boxes, whilst 75% of the screen isn’t being used… Leaving me squinting constantly at a 40″ television only 2 metres away.

For an indie developer, I can appreciate that budget limitations are a huge factor when considering ports. But to leave legacy text such as “changing screen resolutions” on the settings menu just slaps the console player in the face as a lazy afterthought. With a lack of local multiplayer, and the upgrade system quickly wearing thin, the only main draw for the game is the various battles with evil mecha AI.  Subsequently, in its current state I couldn’t recommend Ironcast for Xbox. However, with its artwork style and concept, I think the game would ideally suit the tablet market (with some considerable text optimisation), and I wonder whether we’ll be seeing it in the next few months once the higher priced versions have saturated.

Have you given Ironcast a go?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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