Release Date: April 22, 2016 (on Steam)
Platform: PC via Steam
Disclaimer: The following review was conducted on PC via Steam. A code was provided by the developer for review purposes.
REDCON is a strategy styled indie game porting over to the PC from mobile devices, namely Android. At first glance, it might seem like REDCON is your typical tower defense game. However, it becomes much more as you delve deeper into its roots and gameplay.
The main gameplay element in REDCON is building a fortress and micromanaging it to take out your enemy in a massively lengthy campaign mode. The story mode alone masses over 100-levels which will challenge your skills to the absolute maximum. While this stands true over the course of the game, you might stumble through the initial onset as there isn’t a very intuitive tutorial in place. You are left guessing right from the start as to what to do. The game is quite clearly just a straight port from mobile as the controls and UI are all the same as previous versions.
You start out in the game with very limited choice as to what you can build in your fortress, with basic weapons and utilities being your only options. The aim of each stage is to destroy your opponent’s fortress. This is usually done by destroying their buildings and canons individually, but you are sometimes better off aiming for their ground troops first. In the early stages of the campaign, your base’s structure doesn’t matter all too much as your skill will undoubtedly overpower your opponent more than anything you build.
Every room, canon and defense structure is able to be manned by your ground soldiers; this can be to either repair the building, or to enhance the ability of the structure in some way. You have a limited supply of soldiers and they are often the key difference between success and failure. You can use the soldiers as assault troops, but you are better off keeping them back and playing on the defensive.
As you progress through the game, ranking up your commander through the levels will unlock much more powerful canons to build among more interesting utility rooms. Your base runs on a limited supply of power, so you also need to keep an eye on how much energy you are consuming as your defenses and canons will shut down if you are using too much. This information is unfortunately not very easily noticeable on the screen, so you can sometimes find yourself in a blackout without even realizing you’ve hit your limit. Suffice to say, a blackout usually means you will lose the match unless you do something fairly quickly to amend the situation. The mechanics and addictive gameplay of REDCON are comparable to the likes of F.T.L. This kept me wanting more and more of it, even with its steep rise in difficulty.
REDCON hits a severely high ramp in difficulty once you get past mission thirty. Your opponents become much more skillful and visibly quicker. To continue the climb in steepness, enemies will now better adapt to the way you present your base to them. People may find themselves hitting a brick wall halfway through this game as it takes a lot of patience in order to persevere through the latter stages.
Once you do manage to hit that skill ceiling and everything starts to click, the way in which you play does as well. I found myself absolutely swimming in joy as I constructed a menacing fortress, decimating others in what was previously a challenge to construct. Towards the end game, you will have an arsenal of canons that will make any budding general jealous of the options you have available to you. I mean, there are some seriously badass giant canons to play around with.
Whilst the gameplay of REDCON is the same throughout the campaign, you get the additional buildings and canons to spruce things up between levels. This makes it feel not as repetitive as it normally would, which is nice. At the start of most missions you are able to choose the layout of your fortress and build it from scratch each time depending on what type of defenses your foe has. The bulk missions require you to build your own fortress, having a handful of stages where the fortress is pre-built for you, and you have to make do with what you are provided.
While the gameplay does advances further than what you would expect in terms of challenge and depth for a mobile title ported to the PC, there are still some areas where I was a torn when the visuals didn’t align with the gameplay experience. This was particularly the case as the graphics became something of a mystery to me. I would have liked to have seen a little more polish to the end product before coming out on PC.
As you begin playing REDCON, the avatars and scenery look quite ominous and on the serious side, but as you start the campaign, you soon notice that it isn’t as serious as you thought. The ground troops are obviously intended to resemble the small Oompa Loompa’s from the “Willy Wonka” movie. I couldn’t quite see which angle the game was trying to take with the art style. Judging a book by its cover, it looks slick and well-presented. The background scenery of each level look beautiful and for the most, unique to each stage. The game doesn’t have any voice acting, this would have ultimately made the game’s production value be even higher as there is a lot of dialogue to get through in the story, and the impatient ones amongst us will probably find themselves skipping most of it. None of the other sound effects are very memorable, even now after playing for the past six hours, nothing really stood out to me.
Technically, REDCON runs perfectly fine. It isn’t a very taxing game for your computer to run. The frame rate is capped at 30 though, but you can’t really notice it in game. You can really tell it is a port from mobile though, as a lot of the menus and UI elements are quite clearly designed for swiping your fingers, making mouse movements feel a little off when navigating through menus. It’s not a major issue, but noticeable if you’re not used to this type of problem.
The Bottom Line
There is a surprising amount of content found in this indie strategy title. The story mode boasts over 100-missions to conquer. This alone will provide up to ten hours to get through depending on your ability to become well-acclimated to the gameplay in early stages. Sadly, once you finish the campaign, there isn’t any other reason to carry on playing. But the lengthy story mode is more than enough to keep you going for plenty of time. One thing which really irked me was that you cannot even replay completed missions.
REDCON is an interesting game which has absolutely tons of content on offer. It’s hugely tactical based and strategy veterans will definitely want to be checking this title out. Going into the game expecting a casual experience will punish you as there are many strategies involved. The game is so perfectly priced at a mere $5.99–so you will get more than your money’s worth. Ultimately though, this is a game worth your time if you enjoy this genre.