Simplified has become something of a dirty word in the gaming scene these days. Simply saying it conjures up images of overlong tutorials and hand-holding, and that is present in Crush Your Enemies to a certain extent, but it's simplified in a good way as well. It's simplified in that it's fun to sit down and play in little five minute chunks but simplified in that it's not much fun beyond that. Which is strange for a game that talks about "going back to the days when you thought real-time strategy games were awesome” on its Steam page. If that truly was the goal Crush Your Enemies' developers set out to meet then they failed miserably. However, Crush Your Enemies was originally a mobile game and it feels much more at home there.
Part of the reason that Crush Your Enemies makes for a good mobile game is the short missions. You can jump into any mission and complete it relatively quickly and the simplistic nature of the game means you won't have too much trouble getting reacclimated if it's been a while since you've played. Crush Your Enemies introduces new mechanics and unit types at a fast clip so the missions don't get stale as you progress further. Despite all this, Crush Your Enemies does fall prey to my least favorite widespread mobile game mechanic in the form of what is essentially a star system. In each level, you will have three objectives to complete and depending on how many you complete you get 1-3 enemy heads. You need a certain number of these heads to access new levels. The missions do get very stale very quickly when you have to replay them multiple times to get more heads to progress to the next level. The objectives aren't particularly interesting either. Most of the time it simply involves you beating the mission within a certain amount of time or destroying some specific building. It isn't fun or challenging and it's quite obvious that the mobile game rating system was only put there to pad out your playtime and this is even more apparant when you are playing the game on Steam.
The basic gameplay consists mostly of your standard RTS gameplay. You have huts that will spawn more troops as long as they're actively occupied. You have other huts that will convert your soldiers into different units and you have defensive fortifications you can garrison troops in. The difference comes in that there is no base building. Each map has a preset layout of buildings and your control over the game is to click units and move them around. That's it. As stated above I think there are some pros and cons to this approach. On the one hand, it takes all of the complex mental juggling out of the RTS genre and lets you just play and move on, but on the other hand, mental juggling is kind of what RTS games are all about. This makes the game feel more like a puzzle game centered around combat rather than a proper RTS game, but I don't take that to be a bad thing.
When you figure out how to solve one of its little combat puzzles it feels great. What's more the art style reinforces your victories with camera shaking and piles of pixelated gore that help you revel in the chaos. Not being able to figure out a level is very frustrating. The RTS nature of the game means you often won't be able to tell if a battle is lost until you're about 75% of the way through it and if you can't correct your mistake the next time then you are going to have to play through most of it three times. If you have to come back to that level to get more heads later you can bump that up to around five times. The levels on offer in Crush Your Enemies are simply not interesting or entertaining enough to warrant five playthroughs a piece and it will almost certainly start to grind on your nerves.
Crush Your Enemies also has a story but it's paper thin and not really anything to write home about. It goes for a plot about hyper-masculine barbarian types with a crude sense of humor that I think misses the mark for me. I'm not opposed to the idea and Crush Your Enemies did manage to elicit a couple chuckles from me but for the most part, it just felt childish rather than crude in a sharp way. Perhaps that is the developer's intention but it just wasn't something I cared for in the extremely subjective realm of comedy.
At the end of the day Crush Your Enemies is a game that puts its weaknesses front and center and doesn't seem to realize what it's strengths are at the same time. Because of this, the entire experience comes out feeling a bit less than the sum of its parts. The pixel art is great and the missions can be fun but the forced repetition and extra objective system will make sure the fun comes to a screeching halt at some point. If you are looking for a little combat puzzle game to pick up on mobile this would be a much easier recommendation but I simply can't picture anyone sitting down for a session with the game at their PC after a long day of work.
Crush Your Enemies was reviewed on PC (Affiliate) via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Crush Your Enemies tries to go for a simplified RTS route with its gameplay and falls flat. Combine that with hit and miss humor, and you have a strategy game that really only makes sense on mobile.(Review Policy)
- Fast Paced Gameplay
- Great Pixel Art
- Fun RTS/Puzzle hybrid at times
- Forced To Replay Levels
- Humor is Hit and Miss
- Can be Overly Simple