8-Bit Hordes doesn’t do anything special but will provide a fun and comfortable experience to new players of the real-time strategy genre.
Every now and then there comes a game that just completely catches you off guard. Each year I’ll typically pick up a game that looks visually appealing to me and just say “Eh, why not.” Surprisingly, this time around it just so happens to be a real-time strategy game, a genre I admittedly don’t have much experience in. 8-Bit Hordes doesn’t do to much to rival the big dogs of the RTS genre such as Age of Empires or Starcraft, yet the charming art style, fun gameplay, and the massive number of soldiers you can take control of makes it an enjoyable experience.
In 8-Bit Hordes, you begin each level at your base, otherwise known as your castle. From there, you are given an objective to beat the level such as defeating an enemy base or taking out all of the enemies barracks. Basically, beating each level will have you causing as much destruction as possible, and I wouldn’t have it any other way in this experience.
From your castle, you can begin to craft and build barracks that can spawn a wide variety of soldiers. Some will cost more than others and of course, the more expensive soldiers or wizards will be stronger or have a greater impact. However, you can’t just endlessly spawn hordes of soldiers. Farms must be built to house your army. The more soldiers you are trying to build, the more farms you will need. On top of that, each soldier takes time to spawn and the more barracks created, the faster your soldiers will be able to be used in battle.
Once enough soldiers have been created, it is now time to traverse the map and take out all of the objectives to complete the level. Soldiers can be mapped to the square, triangle, or circle button on PS4 when they are first created. This allows the ability to take control of massive hordes with a single button, which was quite handy. It was pretty satisfying to send out a patrol of troops all mapped to the square button to take down an enemy castle while I snuck a bunch of other troops mapped to another button to flank the enemy forces. This is just one approach I took that came in handy when I didn’t want to just spawn as many soldiers as possible to just destroy everything.
The resource management that was created could be a little bit over encompassing at times, however, once I was familiar with the mechanics of the game, I was able to reliably handle my castle and army I was constructing simultaneously. There is a bit of a learning curve though that some players who are not very familiar with RTS mechanics (like me) must get used to. 8-Bit Hordes does a good enough job of supplying ways for managing all of your recourses and taking control of what you are doing. I say “good enough” because many of the ways to input commands are a bit weird to get used to, but they do work. To craft a building or soldier, you must hold down one of the triggers, then move the analog stick around a wheel to choose your command. This normally works in most games, but when everything is in real time, it can get a bit frustrating trying to correctly choose the right option because it is easy to accidentally choose something else. I know for a fact that menus would be much easier to traverse on PC.
Once a certain level is reached, enemies will now try to attack your base and do damage to all of the structures put into place. This means that the troops, barracks, farms, and the little adorable mine carts that go collect money for you are now in danger. I did feel that it was a bit unfair at first because the location where the enemies will approach from is unknown and locations on the map are not visible unless troops have explored through it. This led me to randomly putting defense structures such as arrow towers randomly by my base hoping they will be near enough to engage the enemy. It is a slight gripe because I would usually only waste one tower on my first playthrough of the level, but a gripe nonetheless.
I do want to point out that the visuals of 8-Bit Hordes are my favorite part of the game. Maybe I am just a sucker for little blocky characters or pixel art, but I think that the look of this game is charming as hell. It almost felt as if I was a kid again staring down upon my army of Lego figures right before they were about to go to battle.
8-Bit Hordes doesn’t really do anything special to put it into a league of its own. Utilizing your troops to attack enemy bases and structures can completely be bypassed by just creating as many troops as possible and sending the gigantic horde in. Even though “horde” is the title, this method takes away from the fun characteristics of the game. Still, I still had an enjoyable time with it. The visuals provide an adorable and charming spark and when utilizing your troops to your full potential, you can pull off some really strategic and satisfying maneuvers. If you are a fan of real-time strategy titles, 8-Bit Hordes can provide a fun experience for beginners of the genre such as myself.