Hip To Be Square: Battle Of The Tiles

Crysis 2's direction surprised many
When reading around Gravity Bone’s internet footprint, I found myself catching up with Game Tunnel’s Game of The Year (They gave GB their arthouse game of the year award). And when I’m there, I realise that I hadn’t played their Strategy Game of the Year, a little thing called Battle of the Tiles. A graphically unappealing indie turn-based strategy game? I’m so there. Opinions of the demo beneath the cut…

Well, first thing to understand is that it’s not actually that ugly at all. It’s functional, and that functionality is part of its charm. Secondly, whilst it’s turn based, it’s the sort of pacy-turn based which doesn’t really feel like it. You control an army. Every turn, you can move any number of your troops in one direction. As in, you can select them all and click right, and they trundle a step forward. But if you only want to move one individual up, you can only move him. As you walk to the right, ever more foes appear, and you take them down. Each creature will automatically attack whatever comes within range – which varies depending on the nature of the tile in question.

It’s basically a Tower Defence game meets Kung-Fu Master, with you trying to organise your troops for maximum about of destruction. Some of it is obvious – arranging melee troops in front of those with ranged, etc. Some are less so – your characters all level up as they defeat monsters, so you’ll want to actually try and spread the experience so you’re not stuck with a bunch of rookies at the back. Every step your army makes forward heals people a little, but that can be boosted by healing characters. Also, by defeating foes, you earn money. By double-clicking an enemy, you can buy them and add them to your ever-stomping army – the question being, who do you want.

In other words, it’s a game where you can see all the rules very quickly, but the permutations they play out in are subtler than the immediately appear. And it’s got a real basic compulsiveness to it – you want to march to the right. You want to get stronger troops. And there’s really something satisfying to seeing a big block of troops all slide to the right with a single click of yours.

There’s a big chunk of game in the demo, and with only five dollars to buy the full game, it realises there’s more ways to be attractive than just in graphical veneer. I liked this a lot.

9 Comments

  1. Feet says:

    Oooh. Turned-based. I’m so there.

  2. qrter says:

    I tried this a couple of months ago, I wasn’t that impressed.

  3. Ado says:

    Agreed, there ain’t enough turn-based strat. these days so I’ll take eveythin I can get. This has made it to the top of my list now (i.e. I’ll download it tonight and probably buy it 20 mins later).

  4. Hypocee says:

    I tried BoT out a few days ago via the GameTunnel awards. It seems great as far as it goes, and the turns interact with time in a way I don’t think I’ve seen. I don’t think the demo would have quite sold it to me, though – you just keep going, fighting the same six enemies, until it cuts off. Other sources and reviews say there are more interesting enemy types waiting, and more importantly big multi-tile bosses. For that, I’m planning on taking a spin.

  5. rob says:

    I had a go and ended up just arranging all my melee troops in one big line at the front and then all my ranged troops in a line behind them. Then it just became a case of advancing everyone to the right each turn. Does the full game force you to try interesting tactics somehow?

  6. Colthor says:

    I had much the same experience as Rob. A case of the demo not showing the interesting bits?

  7. Tony says:

    I completed this game a couple of months ago. The game does get more tactically interesting as you play. Enemies ambush you from behind. The enemy start coming at you in much more dense and interesting formations. Alot of the appeal is trying to decide what troop types to bribe. Its a pity the first level is so easy because this game is really only going to appeal to hardcore turn based gamers who want a challenge. When the game finished I still wanted more, so thats a pretty high recommendation. Tony

  8. Andre says:

    I like this game, however it could be a lot bigger. Why only 5 levels? Give me more Tiles, or better yet, an editor, so i can make my own! A big company should buy the game and make it big. Get a home town, batle a country (like risk). Get castles at your hometown and train higher levels. The game has got it – its easy to understand and a lot of fun. GIMME MORE :P.