The tower defense genre is well established and it’s rare to find a game that manages to do something innovative or different. Monster Castle succeeds in bringing a new approach to the genre. However, certain design decisions make the game tedious and unbalanced. Extensive in-app purchases and paywall mechanics make your in-game fortress seem more like a Skinner box than a castle.
At first glance, Sixjoy’s Monster Castle looks like a great mobile tower defense game. The game has a cute cartoonish aesthetic with a fun premise that pits monsters against humans. The animation and sound are well executed and things get off to a good start with a quick and painless tutorial.
The story follows a small group of monsters who have been oppressed by an evil knight. As the group of humans get greedier and greedier, the renegades start to fight back and recruit more monsters to their cause. Turning the fantasy stereotype of humans versus monsters around is entertaining and a good premise to facilitate Monster Castle’s campaign.
Gameplay follows standard tower defense strategies with both offensive and defensive levels but the difference is that players have an upgradable castle that is persistent across all levels and modes. Weapons and defensive structures can be placed throughout the floors of the castle to protect your throne room. Enemies will spawn in open spaces of your castle so players will need to be strategic about how they set things up. Structures can be rearranged by intuitively tapping and dragging them around the castle.
Early levels of Monster Castle are very easy. In offensive mode, players train available unit types to infiltrate the enemy’s castle and destroy the throne in a limited amount of time. In defensive mode, enemies attempt to infiltrate your castle and destroy your throne. Either way, players will likely press fast forward to get to the end of the stage and collect the rewards more quickly. That is, until you unlock spells which can be unleashed when and where the player chooses, which gives players a more active role outside of training units and setting up their castle.
Monster Castle is free to download and so some in-app purchases and paywall mechanics are expected. The game uses a standard yet annoying waiting mechanic in which it takes minutes to hours for structures and units to be completed and ready to use. There are also a lot of in-game currencies and resources to manage, with structures that generate in-game currencies or resources that need to be upgraded with different in-game currencies.
It’s clear that Monster Castle was designed with in-app purchases in mind but it goes a little too far. It’s very easy to upgrade items and speed up production early on in the game but the more you play the more expensive and longer things take to do. When you upgrade your throne room, your entire castle gets bigger, making more gaps in your defenses. To keep your castle safe from enemy invaders you’ll need to fill those gaps quickly, which of course takes a fair amount of coins, crystals or wine etc.
Online multiplayer is more fun and challenging than the campaign mode. Players can invade other players castles and vice versa. The more you win the higher your rank and in-game rewards will become. However, there is a problem with matchmaking so that it is likely you’ll get paired against someone at a much higher level than you, and you’ll be getting less in-game currency.
The payment model creates a pay-to-win scenario. It also contributes to an unbalanced snowball situation. Winning raids will give players higher rewards which are essential to upgrading and building structures. Which means players with further upgraded structures will have better armies, more income and higher defenses. So naturally these players, whether they paid for or earned their way to the top, will be more likely to win their next match.
There are so many different types of in-game currency that it seems as if the game is intentionally designed to confuse players into coughing up real life money for virtual resources. If it weren’t for all the in-game currency and the balance issues it creates Monster Castle would be a fun and solid tower-defense game with some interesting mechanics. The game is free to download, so if you love tower-defense games it may be worth installing.
There are so many different types of in-game currency that it seems as if the game is intentionally designed to confuse players into coughing up real life money for virtual resources. If it weren’t for all the in-game currency and the balance issues it creates Monster Castle would be a fun and solid tower-defense game with some interesting mechanics.