Siege Breakers AR game

Siege Breakers iOS Game Review

Siege Breakers is the second game I review from the developer of Fruit Ninja, Halfbrick Studio. The first ARKit game was Shadow Remain, a casual puzzle Augmented Reality game that I really liked. I was definitely interested to see what Halfbrick Studios planned for us here in the new AR title.

What is Siege Breakers?

Siege Breakers is a physics-based puzzle strategy game, somewhat similar to Angry Birds. The player needs to shoot cannon balls or rocket projectiles on different objects in order to eliminate all flags in the level. The game features lots of destructible medieval castle structures alongside explosives which allowing the player to wreak havoc. It’s really fun seeing the place getting crashed and destroyed to its roots.

Siege Breakers AR game screenshot
Beautiful and vibrant cartoon-style design and visual effects. Sorry for the rotated UI, I just want to share this image horizontally rather vertically.

If that’s not all, the developer added some innocent sheeps spread around the environment just so you can enjoy seeing them getting toasted. Why do you ask? Well, why not, it is fun to watch, nothing wrong adding a touch of humor (unless you don’t like seeing innocent sheeps getting roasted).

This isn’t a turn-based game like Angry Birds, you can shoot several rockets one after the other.

The controls are very intuitive and straightforward. All you need to do is to tap and hold to aim and release to release the projectile. You have a limited amount of ammo, so use it wisely. Once the ammo is depleted the game is over and you’ll need to restart the level all over again. There are also hidden ammo crates hidden in some of the structures.

It’s a very simple and accessible game that everyone can pick up and play, regardless of its age.

AR Gameplay Experience & Level Design

Shooting a rocket towards a big bulge in Siege Breakers iOS AR game
So which side I should hit that big bulge, right, left, center – where?!

Halfbrick Studios nailed several things right in this game. First of all, I really liked the large proportions of the levels. The game was built in a way that it encourages, sometimes even demands that the player will move around the environment and inspect different angle to release the projectiles.

I didn’t find any option to resize the game, but for me, the size was spot on. I do think that there should be an option to resize the game because it might not fit everyone’s height and preferences.

I also really liked the way the levels are designed, using vertical gameplay that makes the game fill large and it can be played in relatively small spaces. Furthermore, the use of elevation and unsymmetrical level design makes the game looks more attractive in AR, especially once you start moving around it.  This is a very smart design that makes the game more visually attractive. This is a very important aspect of a game design in Augmented Reality and many developers miss it.

Even as of the time of writing, I can’t forget how much I enjoyed walking around the game area in The Machines. I just can’t forget those beautiful 3D rocks in both the edges and in the middle of the map. This helped to create a completely different gameplay AR experience. It made you feel like you are in a middle of a 3D scene, a part of the virtual game itself. The large scene drives the player to physically move around on the map. This translates to a much more satisfying gameplay experience, much better than if the game had a smaller footprint and played from a top-down view like a standard board game.

Vertical level design in an AR game
Siege Breakers vertical level design not just looks great in Augmented Reality, it feels well. I really enjoyed playing the game while standing and enjoy physically walking around the environment.

Having said that, The main downside of the game “The Machines” is was that it was deployed flat on the surface without elevation, thus forcing tall players like myself to crouch or sit on their knees. You can solve that by playing the game on a table, but it’s more fun to play it on a large scale and when it matches the base surface you deploy it on.

Whether in Siege Breakers, the developer uses verticality quite a lot and in those plane levels, were elevated up using a ground base to make the game playable while standing up. This makes a huge difference and you can clearly see that the developer took his time figuring out the best way to deliver a great AR gameplay experience. After playing it, I can tell you that this design works really well, and I felt no discomfort playing it. On the contrary, I really enjoyed being mobile and physically moving around in this game. Having said that, It would be nice having an option to lift up the gameplay area. I don’t know why many developers don’t add this little and helpful feature in their Augmented Reality games.

I personally didn’t fancy of the projectile’s movement in the game. I found it a bit annoying seeing my projectiles looking very small and traveling very slow towards the target when playing the game in slight distance from the gameplay area.  The good thing is that you have a crosshair piece that allows you to aim very accurately, even when you are positioned further away from the gameplay area.

Here is a gameplay video, so you know what to expect. Just keep in mind that it might contain spoilers on how to solve some of the levels.

One last thing, the drop shadow effect was too dark and didn’t fit the lighting of the room.  It sometimes made the shadows look like gameplay surfaces themselves because they were so prominent. I was playing the game on a very bright floor.

Game’s Difficulty and Replay Value

Siege Breakers features 20 levels. I was able to finish the game in about an hour I guess. Definitely not a lot of content. The game isn’t that difficult either, although I was stuck at some of the rounds, but not more than a few minutes.

The game did feel very short in that aspect and I really didn’t want to stop, the gameplay felt really good. I really hate when I play a game that I like only to find it ending an hour later.

This is why sometimes I turn in to games with procedurally generated levels because they give me more play time (of course the game has to be good). The problem with many of those procedurally generated games that all of the levels feels the same more or less and those engines don’t create some really cool levels like those who are pre-programmed by a game’s  level designer.

Similar to Angry Birds, after each level you get a 3-star rating based on your performance.  You get a higher rating if you are able to complete the level with the least amount of shots. This might encourage users to revisit some levels and try to finish all levels with a perfect 3-star rating. This adds a bit to the replay value.

Build Editor
A level that I’ve created myself. Just put many ships and explosives to see what happens, ROFL!

Speaking of replay value, the game comes with a built-in Sandbox Editor that allows you to create and play your own designed levels. You can even save your creations and play them later.

Siege Breakers also hints of an Online Mode, where players can take on other players castles and earn rewards.  This is a must-have feature that can definitely solve the lack of content issue.  No need to use a procedurally generated engine, let the people create their own levels.  You have the option to subscribe to get notified when this feature is released.

Just keep in mind that some of the items in the build editor are locked behind a paywall, You can buy a Creation Pack that contains those extra parts to use in the Build Mode (optional in-app purchases). It includes a Reinforced Tower, Wall, and Arch, as well as a Boulder and Ramp. This is the only microtransaction in the game.

Conclusion

Siege Breakers is a fun physics-based castle-crashing experience. The game features beautifully designed levels and I always find it funny seeing those sheep get toasted, poor sheep. I also really enjoy wreaking havoc on structures in this game because of the impressive explosion visual effects.

Having said that, I did find Siege Breakers to be quite lacking when it comes to content. It feels frustrating when you play such a good game, online to find out that it’s over an hour later. Having said that, the built-in level editor and the upcoming online mode will definitely compensate for that. I can’t wait to try out the online mode. I am going to build some really epic levels, just wait and see 🙂

The gameplay is fun and some of the levels have a  really clever design. I actually felt like the game is trolling me, making me think that I should play it in one way, but it was just a distraction from that right way to complete the level.

The Build Editor is a welcomed feature and can give you the option to create your own level. The thing is that if you are the one who develops it, there is no challenge in playing it because you already designed it in a way knowing ahead how it can be completed.

The only thing that can change that is being able to share your levels and let other people play it, rank it and maybe have statistics how many people failed to complete it and how many were able to finish it. This way the developer can add a difficulty rating that ranked a level’s difficulty based on the number of failures versus the number of times people play it. I can think of many other great ideas, I just do hope that this feature will implement rather quickly before the interest of people of this game wears out.

Overall, I am pleased with Siege Breakers, it’s a very good AR game that with a social feature can get so much better. The game is free to play and I do recommend trying it out. I’ll definitely revisit this game once the online feature is released, I can’t wait to share my own levels. I have some really crazy ideas, I just want an option to share it with the world.

The game was reviewed using my Apple 9.7-inch iPad 2017.

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