Crush Your Enemies Review: RTS Reimagined
Vile Monarch’s Crush Your Enemies is a real time strategy game that does away with everything you think you know about RTS titles. Long game times that leave you in desperation when you realize you made a big mistake early on? Nope. Confusing in-game mechanics that take hours to master? Not at all. Crush Your Enemies takes everything you love about real time strategy and synthesizes it so you absorb it in much smaller doses, but still have a rewarding experience.
The basic premise of Crush Your Enemies is simple: take advantage of units and buildings to create a bigger horde than the enemy, then crush the weaklings that dare stand before you. You do this by utilizing and capturing tiles on the stage, and facing off against enemy units near the edges of your territory. The fights take into account unit type, how many units you have, and also location on the map where the encounters take place. There are a vast amount of different friendly barbarians, from the standard everyman, arrow blocking shieldmasters, to wizards that shoot lightning at your foes.
Upgrades happen instantly. You guide some basic plebeians into an archer tent, and boom, they walk out as barbarian marksmen ready to crush! A big part of the game involves dividing numbers of units and creating different groups that can help each other on the fly (like warriors and archers, for example), and although Crush Your Enemies has a pretty unique system for doing this, we still fumble around on occasion in tense situations.
Don’t mistake the earlier terminology, though. Crush Your Enemies is by no means an easy game. Its depth becomes apparent soon after you jump in, and continually builds throughout the campaign. Rather than starting you off with a ton of units, terrain, and mechanics to master all at once, Crush Your Enemies uses its storyline to introduce new gameplay to keep the experience from getting stale.
For example, at a certain point in the game, you and your roving group of barbarians encounter a large bloodthirsty war snail that loves headbutting humans into a pulp. The snail is invulnerable, so you have to work your way around the map avoiding its evil snail gaze and headbutts. The catch? The snail can’t discern good from evil, so it destroys all units indiscriminately, and you can use it to your advantage.
The story is filled with silly moments like this, and for Vile Monarch founders Grzegorz Mazur & Kacper Kwiatkowski, it is a welcome change from their previous endeavor at 11 Bit Studios, working with the team that created This War Of Mine. We met them at PAX East, and they struck us as the kind of fellows who enjoy lighthearted fun, and several beers. Side note, the game also features amazing music from Marcin Przybyłowicz, the composer of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The addition of unique challenges for each stage add an even higher level of difficulty. Furthermore, these challenges sometimes require you to destroy the enemy in a certain amount of time, or use a certain type of barbarian. We really enjoyed the extra bar to clear, while knowing we could ignore them entirely.
Crush Your Enemies also supports cross-play multiplayer for almost every device you can think of. Unfortunately at the time of writing this, we weren’t able to jump into a match, but it seems to offer quick pick up matches, or the option to matchmake with another player of your choosing. Grzegorz and Kacper told us that they didn’t want to fragment the playerbase, so they chose the cross-play route to increase the odds of finding a match. We will come back and update once we have a few online sessions under our collective belt.
Overall, our time with Crush Your Enemies continues to be extremely enjoyable. It is a great blend of accessible yet deep gameplay that forms an addictive product that will satisfy the most dedicated RTS fan, as well as newcomers to the genre who just want to test the waters.
- Addictive real time strategy that anyone can understand
- Lots of level variety
- Gameplay that can be enjoyed in quick bursts
- Organizing troops on the fly is sometimes cumbersome