Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of the game, and may receive a production copy of the game in exchange for an honest preview. This is not a paid preview. You can check out the video of this preview below. Get your own copy here.
One of my most pleasant surprises last year was Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time. A game that I expected to be fun, and an interesting puzzle roared its way to my #3 game of the year, and my top solo/coop game of the year. When Lucky Duck asked me if I was interested in doing a preview for the standalone Elemental Uprising I said yes in almost negative time.
Now, since the core of Elemental Uprising plays the same as Rift in Time, I am not going to spend a ton of time the basics of the first game, rather I will focus on the things that are new and fresh. If you want you can check out my review of Rift in Time here.
This time, rather than evil time mages coming to ruin your kingdom, this time the very elements themselves are coming after you. Now clearly in order to take on these new enemies, you will need some new weapons. These weapons come courtesy of new, more complex heroes, new towers, and terrain pieces that you are able to interact with.
The heroes in the original game were easily my favorite part of the game, I loved the asymmetric abilities of the heroes, and especially loved the way they synergized with each other, each combination completely altering how you played the game. So, when I saw that the new characters had additional mechanics added to them: Bruxa collects the skulls of her enemies, and Alric has some sand warriors that travel with him.
The second big change is the addition of upgrades for the towers. You are able to add (removable) stickers to your towers upgrading them in new ways. They might allow you to add a warrior to the attack, or change the range, or make the attacks into magical attacks, etc. Of course, this means that you will never be passing the tower on…or you lose those upgrades as it upgrades to a new one.
However, the biggest change comes with the change in theme. Without the threat of the Time Mage, you no longer have to deal with the time portals, which for better or worse, were one of the most challenging things in the original game, as they were insta-loss tiles, and destroyed your towers along the way. Each quest still has a clear win condition, but it is no longer the time portals.
So what do I think?
Would it be lame of me to say “everything that was cool in the first game is still awesome!” Yes that would be lame. So I will say. “Everything that was cool in the first game is still amazeballs!” I still love the hot polyomino puzzle action, I love the way the characters synergize and play, and I love the removal of the time crunch you have when you play the game on an app. All of that still true.
But here is what really works. ALL of the new mechanics work for me. None of the new mechanics are challenging to grasp, but that ever so slight increase in complexity is just what I wanted in this game. The ability to upgrade the towers adds a new delightful level to the puzzle, and gives you just enough freedom to totally ruin yourself. Love it.
The unknown lands here for me. I have great faith that the boss fights are going to be as fun and delightful as they were in Rift in Time. However, having not gotten to fully experience them I do not know for sure. I am confident they will be the perfect change of pace like they were in the previous game, but I will not know until that pledge lands on my stoop!
As with the previous game, the set up is a bit fiddly. You have to set all the portal stacks up in a very specific order, and it can feel like it takes a little while.
Bringing it all together
Kingdom Rush Elemental Uprising is the evolution of of Rift in Time that I did not know I wanted. All of the changes to the game add just a bit of complexity, without complicating the game. That is a contradictory statement that I never thought I would write. Yes, the game still takes a bit longer to set up than I would like, but when it comes to polyomino games, this is the one I want to play. Truth be told…I would probably get this game solely to get the new more complex hero characters…I love those.
Be like the wind…not like the stone
* Standalone game maintains the magic of the original
* Love the added complexity on the heroes, towers, and terrain
* Game does away with the portal cards, replacing them with interesting events
* I will be curious to see what the unique scenarios, and boss fights will be like
* Set up still is a bit of a bear
* This is the polyomino game that I would consider putting down Rift in Time for