CRUSH YOUR FEARS! CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES! CRUSH EVERYTHING!
One of the most underappreciated aspects of game design these days seems to be developing a game’s personality. That extra little spark of flair and set dressing, mixed with the right characters and bits of dialog, to create a unique feel in whatever game you’re playing. While it’s not the key defining attribute, I find that a game with a decent enough personality can make me overlook at least some of its errors and turn an otherwise lackluster experience into something fairly enjoyable. Such is the case with Vile Monarch’s, “Crush Your Enemies”.
Crush Your Enemies, an indie title developed by Vile Monarchs and published by Gambitious Digital, is an intriguingly simplistic RTS game in which players command their very own barbarian horde, spreading across the land of Generia and destroying anyone who stands in their way. Boasting a control system so simple you can play it with only one hand, this is accomplished by clicking your horde and dragging them to the nearest pile of uncrushed peasants and making short work of them, while simultaneously fulfilling the game’s title. Along the way; you’ll have items, power ups, varied terrains, and more to help or hinder your progress, as well as some charming interactions between your barbarians and captured villagers.
Each level pits your horde against waves of enemies, with various huts that produce units, change the type of units you control, and different terrain effects. While most maps are ostensibly the same, albeit slightly different; Crush Your Enemies manages to keep each map fresh and interesting with its layout and challenges. Requiring players to sometimes capture a certain amount of enemy territory, keep the death toll below a certain number, or crush your enemies within a certain time limit.
Crushing your enemies does get to be same-ish, however, as no matter how many different layouts you play through, it all boils down to the same thing: Try to get as many units as possible so you can absolutely dominate your enemies and hear the lamentations of their women. Sure, different buildings and items change up how long it takes to accomplish your goals; but the end result is almost always the same; a group of around fifty barbarians stomping across the field to your enemy’s village.
There’re also challenges in each map, serving a twofold purpose. First and foremost, completing challenges and the map itself awards you with severed heads; a more barbaric form of the standard award stars standard in similar games. Later levels after the initial few starter levels require a certain number of these heads in order to unlock them. These challenges also add a bit of extra difficulty into the game, requiring the player to possibly defeat all enemies within a certain time limit, or capture all of the enemy’s land. Since heads are needed to progress, one might think that completing challenges could be seen as bothersome; but in my entire playthrough of Crush Your Enemies, being unable to progress was never a major issue for me.
Players can also collect flagons of Ale from captured villages that appear off to the side from the main path from time to time, which act as this game’s form of lives but capturing more than one is a bit unnecessary. For one, the game gives you a free village near the start, which spits out 3 flagons each time you visit the map screen after a mission; then after that every village you come across will be guarded. Additionally, these side missions for extra lives seem to be genuinely more difficult than the main path levels themselves. Admittedly, I was unable to even get past the first guarded village because I couldn’t figure out the sequence of when and where to transport my units for optimal success.
A minor problem, considering the game also boasts that many of its maps have multiple solutions in them. This is, for the most part, true; but many of the maps also seem to only have one or two “correct” solutions tied to them. This opens up a bit more if you don’t worry about the time restraints on some maps, but otherwise some areas of the game feel pretty restricted in the ways you can accomplish objectives.
As linear as some parts are though, completing each segment is well worth it to be rewarded with another cut scene. At the start of each level, your barbarians will usually have some sort of interaction; and each interaction is almost always guaranteed to be worth reading through. It’s vulgar, hilarious, and often somewhat meta, but what else can you expect from the same developers that made a 1v1 argument simulator with numerous Monty Python references. Crush Your Enemies is often crass, vulgar, and filled with pop culture references; yet always managed to stay relatively funny to me without getting old or annoying. Some cut scenes do tend to drag on, but never to a point where it becomes bothersome or tiring.
Overall, Crush Your Enemies is a title that doesn’t really stand out much in the mechanics dept, yet shines through with it’s crass sense of humour and wonderful personality. With great pixel art environments, excellent animations, fun and memorable characters, and easy to use controls, Crush Your Enemies has plenty of positives going for it.
Moreover, it’s easy enough to recommend this game to nearly anyone who’s a fan of simplistic style RTS games. There’s no announced price as of yet, but if the game is around or under 10$, then it’s definitely worth checking out.