Siege Towers for Two (iPad)

Developer: Philipp Lenssen

Free!

People tend to lower their expectations when downloading a free app, and that may play a small part in the rave review you are about to read. But I am willing to stake my reputation on the fact that this game has the potential to bring you hours of fun and enjoyment, as long as you have a worthy opponent to battle it out with.

 

When you open STFT for the first time, you will realize that it does not pretend to be a professional app by any means. It completely shuns any kind of introductory animation with some cheesy developer’s logo, nor does it follow traditional game structures of a start menu. Instead, it completely ignores those tiny administrative details and throws you right into the heat of battle, so much so that if you have not played STFT before, it will take you a couple of seconds to orientate yourself and realize what is going on.

I happened to be with my girlfriend when I first opened it, and a bright blinking light emanating from some text first caught my eye. I read it out together with her:

“Drag to move. Tap to rotate. Build the highest tower. 21 seconds..”

“20 seconds..”

“19 seconds..”

There is something about a countdown timer that just makes you frantic, especially if you and your partner are competitive freaks huddled over a 2 player iPad game. As we realized that we were running out of time, even though we had no idea what we were supposed to do, we looked at each other, and realized that, whatever it was, we absolutely HAD to do it before we ran out of time. Our eyes looked at the instructions again, and picked out a series of arrows pointing to some modular wooden components hovering over 2 wooden platforms. One platform was hers, one was mine. The race was on.

STFT_00

Not quite Ikea.

Determining the winner in a round of STFT is as straightforward as a simple game of who is the richest man in Dubai: Tallest tower wins. And while the actual gameplay itself is much less complex than the ridiculously amazing architecture of the Sheiks, it still requires an entertaining amount of strategy, cunning and most importantly, luck, to succeed in this daunting task.

As mentioned earlier, each round begins by presenting you with a random set of components that hover over a wooden platform. Within 25 seconds, you must use these as building blocks to construct a siege tower using a simple drag and drop building block interface.

Most of these are wooden structural blocks that build the height and foundation of the tower. Not all of these are nice square blocks, meaning that you will have to take a few extra seconds to rotate some of these to fit in nicely with your tower plans. The rotation interface is a little more cumbersome, but perhaps is also rightly so, since part of the frustration is not being able to rotate these pieces in time, resulting in some laughter as entire siege towers collapse under the flawed positioning of ill-conceived components.

Cannons not doing what you want them to = fun

Apart from structural blocks, your arsenal of components could include some siege weapons. A cannon will fire off a volley of shots once the timer runs out, but has to be aimed correctly at your opponent’s tower. This also often requires some manner of rotation, and improper use can result in your cannon blasting your own tower into smithereens. But even properly aimed cannons are only effective if they manage to hit a weak point in your opponents tower, which is where a marginal element of luck comes into play. There is also a less effective siege spear which seems to be there to ‘push’ your opponents tower off its base, but I found it more effective as a vertical implement to add an additional spire to the top of my siege towers.

Building your siege towers is only a fraction of the fun that each round of STFT offers. Once the timer hits zero, is when the game really starts!  Gravity grabs hold of the pieces you have put into place and attempts to put them all together. Poorly rotated pieces fall to bits, while sturdy pieces try to hold their ground.

After all the pieces have settled, a group of minions will start pushing the 2 siege towers toward each other, and at the same time, the cannons start launching a volley of cannonballs. In an ideal world, you would be watching two well-planned siege towers battle it out in a test of stability and weapon positioning. In reality, (and this is where the fun of STFT really lies) you will see how the hilarity of two rickety towers collide into each other, with cannons blasting all over the screen, not necessarily where they are intended to shoot. It’s really hard for me to go beyond this to accurately describe how entertaining this scenario really is, so I will leave it to you to discover. But trust me when I say, it is really pretty damn fun to watch it all happen.

There can only be one..

In conclusion, STFT is the sort of game you keep on your iPad, that you will bring up over and over again. Whether to decide who picks up the next bill, or who’s buying the next round of beers, or even just for alpha-male bragging rights. And even long after iPads peter out into oblivion, Siege Towers for Two is a game that will probably linger on, in a variety of versions on many other different gaming platforms.

Score: 8/10

Review by Black Cows

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