Ironcast – Review

developed by Dreadbit


published by Ripstone

After reading up about Ironcast and watching a few gameplay trailers, I was expecting something along the lines of another Bejeweled type game mixed with a heavy dose of Puzzle Quest’s style and substance.  What I instead discovered was that Ironcast is much more than just a combination of other clones and casual gameplay.  It’s a complete blend of RPG, Puzzle, Strategy, and Roguelite that delivers a full campaign which is both deep and rewarding.  And, if that wasn’t enough, Ironcast includes an engrossing story with a rich Steampunk theme that revolves around a mechanized war set in an alternate history during the Victorian Era.

The core of Ironcast’s gameplay is played out like a Match-3 puzzler, but you don’t just match up a few gems in order to proceed to the next level.  The gems in this game are used in a much more dynamic way.  Each gem type does something different such as providing power to weapons and defenses, or coolant which is used to keep those weapons from overheating.  It might sound a bit like some of the mechanics were adopted from a game like Puzzle Quest however, Ironcast is a much more strategic game that forces players to be thoughtful with their moves.  There are similarities to games like FTL and other modern roguelites, and these combined gameplay mechanics make for a surprisingly fresh and uniquely stylized gaming experience.

Ironcast is made with the single player experience in mind so players shouldn’t expect a multiplayer mode in the same vein as Puzzle Quest. You do get a full campaign with numerous mission paths and levels to choose from including some challenging boss battles.  Between these missions you’ll head back to base where you’ll be given opportunities to repair, upgrade gear, buy new weapons, and spend ability points that you earn by levelling up and gaining XP after each battle.  Before all of that though, you’ll begin your quest by selecting an Ironcast commander.  Each commander has their own unique abilities and upgrades, so it’s important to choose based on how you’d like to play.  The gameplay becomes ever more detailed and varied as you progress, but the strategy involved is surprisingly deep and important to the core of the game’s mechanics considering this could be mistaken for a mere Match-3 game at a glance.  The learning curve is reasonable though and both avid and casual gamers should be able to dive in once they’ve finished the comprehensive (if somewhat lengthy) tutorial.

Replay value is another reason to appreciate Ironcast.  A new campaign might appear longer than it actually is in the very beginning, but once you’ve wrapped your head around all of the key gameplay mechanics you’ll discover that this is a game meant to be played over and over due to it’s somewhat randomized “level-design”, the levelling up, and the plethora of unlockables.   There is an addictive loot-drop like quality that will have gamers coming back with that feeling of “just one more turn, just one more turn”.  Even though Ironcast is a Match-3 hybrid of sorts, it doesn’t hurt that the game looks and sounds incredible.  There’s a tremendous amount of detail in this Steampunk universe, and the developer has obviously spared no expense when it came to artistic assets and design choices.  Factor in a sleek user interface, a well written work of Steampunk fiction, and you’ve got yourself a finely designed game highlighting some familiar but fun mechanics that are applied to a unique combination of gameplay styles.

Ironcast is available right now on Steam!

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