If you have an addiction problem with Sirvo's Threes! then stop reading now. You don't want to know about this game. Asher Vollmer, the game designer of the crack cocaine-like mobile game — we may as well call him Heisenberg — has created another digital recreational substance to abuse: Close Castles, a mash-up of a tower defense with real-time strategy game.
Except, this time, instead of laying in a gutter all alone at 3:00 a.m. clutching a game of Threes!, Sirvo's multiplayer competitive city builder offers players the opportunity to sink rock bottom with up to four of their closest buddies.
"It is called Close Castles and that's because the concept is we both built castles, but we built them way too close to each other and neither of us are happy about that," Vollmer told Polygon. "And we won't relax until we are the last castle standing. And the way you destroy your opponents' castles is that you hurl your loyal subjects at them until they go down."
Players' respective castles are placed in the corners of a grid map. The castles don't do anything, they are just to represent where the player reigns. There are three different structures available for a player to build in their territory. Such as a tower that shoots at oncoming enemies, a house that produces loyal subjects and a market that accrues money over time. Houses are offense, towers are defense and markets are economy.
Holding "A" on the controller and moving draws a road, which cost nothing to construct, for loyal subjects to follow. For instance, players build a road from the house to the enemy's tower. "They are very loyal but they are also kind of dumb so they won't go anywhere unless you give them a target," Vollmer explained.
Each structure has a defense bar that fills up with each enemy citizen that successfully enters a structure which gets destroyed once it reaches capacity. Markets are weak and are easily destroyed and two towers can defend against the output of one house. For instance, at the start of the game we played, Vollmer built a tower, I constructed two houses and drew a road to his castle. His territory quickly became overwhelmed until he placed another tower to deal with the damage.
Players can expand their territory by building near the edges of their territory. Players can build structures using the in-game currency that accrues with a base rate of 5 money per second which increases by 5 with each market built. The simplicity of the game's gameplay and visual design is horrifyingly deceptive. Our hands-on only involved two people and even then it was "just one more game" until the the E3 show floor closed. Even with just two players there was thoroughly enjoyable deep levels of strategy involved, so I'm eager to experience the game with four players. While the demo that we played used a Xbox 360 controller, Vollmer doesn't have solid plans for a release window or platform.
"It literally lives on my laptop," Vollmer said. "I spent about a week on it over a few months. I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. This is console-ly, so I think a console would be nice."
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