It’s quickly becoming A Thing in some circles that when you announce a sequel, you just throw the original at people for free. That’s definitely what Awesomenauts studio Ronimo are doing today. Alongside the announcement a PC launch (it’s been out on consoles for yonks) for silly side-scrolling strategy game Swords & Soldiers 2: Shawarmageddon, they’ve made the original Swords and Soldiers HD free to grab on Steam for the next 24 hours and keep forever. So go do that.
If you’ve never heard of it before, Swords and Soldiers is a cute little lightweight real-time strategy game, arguably for people who are new at the genre or just not feeling up to micromanaging enormously complex armies. Some branch points aside, its battles play out on a side-scrolling 2D plane, with your team on the far left side, the baddies on the far right. Build appropriate units to counter incoming forces, secure resources and gradually push your way into enemy territory. It’s also rather cute and silly.
If you’re a hardcore RTS veteran that grew up playing Dune 2 and Command & Conquer before graduating to Starcraft’s ultra-twitchy systems, you might find Swords & Soldiers’ design a bit limiting and simplistic, but there’s a lot of folks out there who look at the genre and find the whole thing immediately intimidating. Definitely a good place to start if you’ve ever wanted to dabble.
Swords and Soldiers 2 was well-received when it launched on the Wii U, but as that particular console never really took off, it didn’t reach quite the same scale of audience as the original. Hopefully the upcoming sequel finds the audience it deserves, as it’s apparently a somewhat richer and more complex game than the first and a more confident design overall.