We have covered Ironcast before, but when I was contacted about covering it on the – still ridiculously hard to find – Nintendo Switch I will admit that I got a bit excited because one of the only issues I had with Ironcast previously was the fact that it was so perfectly suited to mobile gaming, and I could not take my XB1 on the bus with me.
So, with the jump to Ninty’s new-fangled multipurpose joy device, how does the game stack up?
In short – and this may come as no real surprise – it is the same game, only on the Switch.
Which makes it a lot better.
In a sense, at least.
I can now play it with touch screen controls, I can play it on the toilet, I can play it while sitting in the projection room at work while ingesting the latest trailer for Fast and Furious 36: Family is Family, I can play it while in a supermarket waiting for Doris to wrap up the cheese I ordered, I can play it at home on the big screen and basically I can play it wherever, whenever. And by god does Ironcast encourage multiple playthroughs.
That is not to say that you’ll win any. To date I have NEVER won a game of Ironcast. It is a Roguelike with a permadeath mechanic – with legacy unlocks – and it is *meant* to be played over and over, building up resources as you go. Upon launching a mission you will be presented with three choices, and choose well you must. Some offer more scrap materials (used for upgrades) while others will offer more troops to help tackle the final boss. Too many troops and a weak Ironcast (the titular Steampunk Mech suits) will result in a failure, but concentrate on beefing up your Ironcast and ignore troops and you will face the final fight with no support (essentially the troops knock off an equivalent amount of damage from the final bosses health bar). What you simply have to do is play it over and over and over again, building up strategies and supplies.
This is not a ‘quick reward’ title. Despite the appearance of being a Candy Crush style game this has a learning curve so steep you could easily call it a learning CLIFF OF INSANITY and without Andre the Giant to help you out, you’ll have to get smart.
I loved the game on the XB1, and on Switch it feels more suited, more convenient. I have played games that have only lasted ten minutes before death struck. This is perfect for a commuter trek. The combat may appear simplistic also, but it has remarkable depth of strategy that really outperforms the very reasonable £12.99 pricetag. Think about that for a moment. Bomberman on the Switch is still in shops for £50, and it’s Bomberman for crying out loud. A game which really hasn’t evolved since the Megadrive. A game that on the Xbox 360 cost about £8. But because it is being released on a card for the Switch – in the launch window – it comes in as more expensive than bloody Mario Kart 8. Ironcast, by financial amount alone is a quarter of the price, but having played both extensively I can honestly say that Ironcast is the better game. Sure Bomberman is the same fun it has always been, but it simply does not have the depth that Ironcast offers.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention the Commendation Marks. A reward for good playing – and occasionally dropping into the playing grid for collection – these allow you to unlock new playable characters and Ironcast machines along with XP boosts etc… These are key to victory long term – I assume, as I’ve still not won – and add a ‘risk and reward’ mechanic. Go for harder missions and you may lose BUT you may also win and get more XP and resources, which will equate to more commendation marks. It’s a smartly made game, now on a system that matches up really well (similarly the upcoming Thimbleweed Park port to Switch is also exciting us with the potential).
In short Ironcast is superb. I have read reviews that complain that the dialogue text before each mission is tempting to skip, but I would say that this is good design as multiple playthroughs will equate to not needing to necessarily re-read all sections. I do think that the learning curve has been lowered a small amount – or it could be the fact that I’ve played the game a lot on the Xbox so I’m better prepared, but again this isn’t a criticism.
If you are looking for a casual title that is light and easy, do not buy Ironcast. It is challenging and rewards determination and dedication – like how old games used to.
If you love FTL and Steampunk then this is almost perfect for you.
Essentially it is important to remember that death is a part of this game, just as terrible music is part of my daughter’s Spotify list. Ironcast is a very inexpensive Switch title, but not because of a lack of quality. It is priced as I think digital games should be priced at this time, priced to entice and priced to sell. I hope the game gets a lot of love, and a sequel, very soon.
Ironcast is available on the Switch store now for just £12.99/$12.99/€14.99
Writer Note: Ironcast was reviewed based on a preview copy sent to us by Ripstone.