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Thronefall Early Access Review – Promising Tower Defense

Thronefall is a minimalist tower defense game set in a fantasy world and is developed by GrizzlyGames. Launching on Steam early access on August 2, 2023, you are tasked with building up your kingdom while facing waves of enemies at night in tower defense style gameplay. Despite being in early access and its minimalist nature, the game is very engaging and super addicting as you try to build up your towers and walls with the little gold you earn each night and survive as long as you can in each of four main biomes.

If you have played GrizzlyGames’ Superflight or Islanders, you will be familiar with their games that appear very minimalist on the outside, but with gameplay that is so well thought out and presented to the player that they are joys to play despite their challenges. I am pleased to report that Thronefall is another success for the development team based on my time with the game. Set in a fantasy world, you control a knight on horseback in charge of the kingdom and must defend the keep with your own combat skills, and slowly build up the kingdom’s defenses. There are four levels/biomes to play in this version and more content will be added during the early access period over the next 6-12 months.

As you earn coins by surviving each night, you will be able to build some more buildings in the kingdom. Houses produce gold each day, towers will engage in ranged combat as foes get close, mills allow you to build farms that earn gold each day, and more buildings become available as you progress through each biome. Each building can be upgraded with gold and some buildings have perks you must choose between, and all this is done to protect your central keep that must not fall.

Your main keep can be upgraded to make your knight more powerful, or it can automatically upgrade level 1 houses to level 2 to earn more gold. Mills can be upgraded to earn more gold, or to blow up when destroyed by enemies, hopefully taking out some enemy units with it. Towers can be upgraded with faster and longer ranged attacks, but at a cost to its durability. You can also build barracks for melee soldiers or an archer ranger for ranged units. These units will attack anything that comes into their range. If a unit of yours is killed, they will respawn after an unknown timer.

One cool thing with units is that you can hold down ctrl and ‘circle them up’ with your knight, then press ctrl to place them behind a wall or on the front line. Once the battle is over and dawn breaks, they will return back to their main building. During battle, your knight can be killed if you get caught in the action. A 10 second timer countsdown before you are respawned, at which your forces are left to fend for themselves.

If your keep is ultimately overrun, the game ends and your score for that biome is recorded. There are quest challenges to complete such as achieving a victory without spears or achieving a victory with a certain mutator enabled. Seeing your high score and thinking you did alright, then seeing your mate has beaten you gives you a drive to dive back in and do better each time.

Thronefall has four fully playable levels that represent different biomes and after you complete the first tutorial level and have completed each biome once through, you can then pick and choose where you want to play next. The levels are well-designed, and the enemies are challenging but each death helps you learn better strategies for the next run. The perk system adds a layer of depth to the gameplay too with 36 unlockable perks and weapons to choose from. Plus, if you want more of a risk versus reward challenge with your runs, you can also add a Mutator which will buff enemy units but net more gold as an example.

Overall, Thronefall is highly engaging despite the minimalist presentation, and is addicting as you try to beat your own score and those of your mates. The developers are actively working on the game, and they have plans to add more content during the early access period of 6-12 months, so I am keen to see what content comes next. If you are a fan of tower defense games, I highly recommend checking out Thronefall.

This review utilised a key provided by Future Friends Games and Thronefall will launch on Steam early access on August 2, 2023.


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