What does one call a platoon of burly men who love to drink and party? Okay, aside from frat boys? You call them your troop in the Vile Monarch developed real-time strategy game Crush Your Enemies that was recently released on the Nintendo Switch after its initial release on Steam in 2016. The top brass at Vile Monarch includes the co-creators of This War Is Mine and seemed to move on from that game to satirizing mobile gaming and the associated clickfest those games brought to the table back what seems like eons ago. So does this game really crush its enemies or are our burly minions outmanned and overmatched?
Firstly, it is crucial to know how the game works. The game is broken into separate battlefield levels that are each uniquely designed. There are square tiles that are either brown for the player’s territory or green for the enemies.’ To reach the enemy, the player will need to claim each green square with their army, with bigger troops conquering the squares at a quicker pace than smaller troops. This brings tactical navigation strategy as one must weigh the pros and cons of spending time conquering the land and where. Once the different troops meet in battle, the goal is simple- CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES!
However, the player has to balance troop size with what the enemies are doing on top of how the actual battlefield is setup. While this seems simple at first, and it is to a certain extent, the game starts adding layers upon layers to the game. First came the recruitment huts to multiply your troop numbers, then the upgrade huts where your troops can get upgraded gear or shoot arrows from a tower among other things. The issue here is if you arm your troops and they go back to the recruitment hut they lose the upgrades; however the next addition of talking to neutral troops on the battlefield has those troops automatically upgrade to what your troops are. It is a glaring contradiction that makes no sense.
There are further annoyances in the game, such as the cutscreens. Players will either love or hate these depending on their tolerance on the type of humor presented, I personally was over it after the second cutscreen and started skipping them to get back to the action gameplay and I am not one to skip over cutscreens, even if they drag. There is also the fact that once you raid villages they turn into breweries and give three pints of beer after each level. These can be used for very minor and short-lived bonuses in future levels and should have more likely been omitted from the game in its current form.
Luckily the game is saved by the fact that it has touch support and it feels like the game was made for these touch controls. The gameplay is more fluid and just makes more sense when the player can just drag their finger down the path they want the troops to travel. This does mean that in handheld the joycons are pretty much unneeded and the controller controls are janky, but that’s the beauty of the Switch and having options: the player can pick the best one that suits their needs for a particular game.
Crush Your Enemies does quite a few things right; however, it also does quite a few things wrong. The real time strategy gameplay elements, while being a bit of an overburden, are smooth when using the touch screen and brings enjoyment to the player. However, this is dragged down by the story and cutscreens. There is a fun game here, but the player has to ignore a bit too many issues to fully enjoy it. Therefore, we just cannot recommend it outside of fans of the genre or someone who wants to kill time in short bursts when not connected to the internet. (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Good Shepherd Entertainment; reviewed on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.