Review: Ironcast Sabriel Mastin April 8, 2015 Reviews Ironcast — A walking, mechanical tank (mech) equipped with large weapons and powered by steam. It’s the 1880s and France is attacking England with an army of walking war machines. You are a member of the British defense force and are armed with an Ironcast of your own to aid in repelling the invaders. Over nine days, you must gather resources and strengthen your Ironcast before the enemy reaches London and you take on the commander of the French army himself. Ironcast is a match-3 (or more) game where the player collects resources by matching like tiles on the game board, and then uses those resources to either attack their opponent or defend their own Ironcast. Matches can be made in any direction, and the resources consist of such things as ammunition, energy for defenses, repair nodes, and coolant to make systems run. Mechs are equipped with two steampunk-themed weapons such as energy bolts or oversized blunderbusses, energy shields to reduce the effectiveness of enemy attacks, and an engine that moves the Ironcast, allowing it to potentially dodge enemy fire. In combat, both you and the enemy are able to target the individual systems and, with enough damage, render them inoperable. Each Ironcast itself cannot normally be repaired while fighting, but each system can be by collecting repair nodes from the playfield. Missions have different objectives such as defeat all enemies in an area, collect 10 crates, last X number of turns, and so on. Rewards for successfully completing missions are experience points, scrap to spend on upgrading the mech, and manpower—the more of which you collect before the final boss, the easier that fight will get. Between missions, players can repair their mech, build upgrades from blueprints they have discovered, and switch out weapons. Upgrades come in all shapes and sizes from better weapons, abilities to affect the game board, or an increase of the Ironcast’s stats. While the game starts out very easy with plenty of useful nodes to help you overcome enemies quickly, later fights seem to kick up the randomizer a notch and beneficial combos become more and more difficult to make. Later battles can feel to be more about luck rather than skill as you hope you can refill ammo or that the enemy misses you before you die and hit game over. This is kind of expected, however, as it is a match-3 game afterall. It is disheartening to get so far only to lose to bad luck and then be sent back to the beginning of the game. All is not lost, though, as there is a global XP meter that keeps tally of how much you’ve gained over all play sessions. Each time this is leveled up, a new stat increase or useful ability is unlocked for use on subsequent playthroughs, thus slowly making you stronger that way as well. I can’t help but think that Ironcast would be better suited for mobile. I played it on PC, and it worked fine, but the short levels make this feel like a mobile game placed on a bigger screen. It’s fun, and I have spent a bunch of time with it lately, but I’d love to be able to play a round of it while riding in the car or standing in line somewhere. The steampunk atmosphere, difficulty, and my enjoyment of match-3 games made Ironcast fun for me, but it doesn’t feel terribly deep. Fans of the genre will see some similarities to Puzzle Quest and WarGames WOPR, but with a unique spin on familiar ideas.