Launching today on Steam from Scribblenauts and Lock’s Quest creators 5TH Cell, Castlehold is a free-to-play deck-building strategy game that manages to cram a ton of strategy fun into battles that last under 10 minutes.
A cataclysmic event has shattered space and time, sending champions from different eras to a mysterious realm known as The Drift. Players form teams from collectible cowboys, samurai, modern military, future soldiers, and more and battle for control of a handful of territories on a relatively tiny map.
It’s a pretty simple game, really. Players deploy troops from their base, located at the top or bottom of a modest map. There are five villages on the map; capturing a village adds a gold coin to the capturing player’s stockpile, allowing them to deploy more advanced troops with more powerful stats and abilities. 5TH Cell calls this the ARC (active resource control) system. Each player also chooses a captain for their army, each with a unique skill that activates once a certain number of villages are occupied.
I played several rounds of Castlehold against the developers during a Zoom preview session last month. Game rounds are quick but thick with strategy. The deck I used featured troops that grow in power the longer they survive, so deploying them early and keeping them protected was the key to victory. Other units gain additional power for having certain other units on the battlefield. New troops are earned by recruiting them via in-game currency earned through play or purchased with real cash, but I had a lot of fun with just the basic troops unlocked at the beginning of the game (before the devs unlocked the entire roster in my preview build, which I no longer have access to, dammit.)
The best thing about Castlehold is I don’t have to just tell you about it. It’s available for free in early access on Steam right now, so you can just go play it and I can have a nice breakfast. Yum.