There couldn’t have been a more perfect time to play a Kingdom Rush game — I had just finished replaying through the series during a hospital stay, and when I got home, I saw that Ironhide Game Studios’ new release, Kingdom Rush Vengeance, had released on Android. Excited, I rushed to purchase it and for some reason, was surprised when I saw the amount of microtransactions in the game.

It doesn’t make any sense that I was surprised. Despite always being a premium franchise that requires an up-front payment, Kingdom Rush has also controversially locked most of the game’s heroes behind additional paywalls. You generally get three-four heroes in the base game, and the other 10-plus heroes are individual microtransactions, some that cost more than the game itself.

It’s never been a good, customer-friendly business model. Feeling like you’re locked out of content that you feel like you’ve already paid enough for (there being more for-pay heroes than unlockable heroes is a good sign of the imbalance) is never fun. But it’s been like that for all three Kingdom Rush games, and it’s even worse in Vengeance.

Not only does Vengeance, a $4.99 tower defense game, have just a few unlockable heroes compared to the several you can purchase, but they have also started locking towers behind the microtransactions as well. The towers!

To be clear: in a tower defense game, you are generally strategically placing towers of varying kinds (barracks, archers, mages and artillery being the classic four) around a path to fight off hordes of enemies, preventing them from reaching their goal at the end of the path. But now, some of those towers are locked behind microtransactions, some that cost more than the game itself.

This is basic functionality of the game, and it’s disappointing to see that the newest things — these more unique towers — are locked behind separate purchases. Feeling like you can’t experience what is truly new about the latest Kingdom Rush game just kinda stinks.

Kingdom Rush: Vengeance is a beautiful, highly polished tactical game oozing charm and character. But for some reason, this is the one that broke me. In addition to being able to buy characters and gems (for powerups), the fact that towers are now included is just as far as this thing can go.

It’s not like it’s a free game with microtransactions or even one secondary “pass” for all the content. It nickel-and-dimes you every step of the way and it’s simply frustrating. I can’t recommend this game at this point, and for the first time, I certainly won’t be finishing a Kingdom Rush game.

James Brady
Author

James founded Destination Android and writes about sports for Vox Media's SB Nation. He is a mindless jerk who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    I agree about the microtransactions, but that isn’t my biggest gripe with the latest Kingdom Rush. Yes, it’s sad when you’re curious and excited about a fancy tower which you won’t or can’t get because it costs more then the game itself, but the game is still playable and winnable without the extra content,

    What really bigs me the degradation of what KR originally was. It’s now less about strategy and more about flashy and “out there” towers (goblins that throw boomerangs?) and it now has more of those cheap looking elements of every average TD game, such as quick-time events. For someone who expects a strategy challenge, the quick-time events are almost an insult.

    The UI in Vengeance is also a lot like many other average TD’s, further adding to the impression that it’s designed for add ridden kids. But hey, that’s what sells.

    The first and second one were simply the best.

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