Toy Clash AR

Toy Clash AR Game Review (ARKit)

In this post, we’ll take a look at at a tabletop tower offense strategy game called Toy Clash AR. I came across this title before because I played its normal non-AR version. There is also an Android version and a VR version of the game for Gear VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift VR headsets. I have spent a lot of time playing this game and I have a lot to share my opinion about it in this review. As always, I’ll share with you my thoughts about the game and also put emphasis on the AR experience as well.

What is Toy Clash AR and how Do You Play it?

Like its name suggests, in Toy Clash AR toys clash against each other inside a small arena.  The developer describes this game as a ‘Tower Offense game’. In this game, the player needs to destroy the enemy’s base before the enemy destroys his. Why isn’t it called a “Tower Defense” game, because you are not just defending your base, you have to attack and destroy the enemy’s base as well.

This is a single-player game, there is no multiplayer mode in Version 1.0, the one that I am reviewing here. For the player to achieve his objectives he needs to deploy toy units into the battlefield. You start the game with one unit and unlock more units as you progress through the game. To spawn a unit, you need to drag it from the bottom right side of the screen onto the gameplay area.  You can only drop the unit on your half side of the battlefield unless you have an ability that allows you to drop your units anywhere on the map, but I’ll talk more about it later on.

Before we move on, let’s take a look at a gameplay video.

The enemy units will spawn at different time intervals. The game doesn’t show you which enemy units are about the spawn. You only know when the next enemy wave will spawn.  A red flag at the top of the screen indicates when the next wave starts.

The ideal gameplay is to be able to strategically position your units on the map so they stop the enemy from destroying your base, and enable your units to attack the enemy’s base and destroy it.. Some units are good against certain enemy units and bad against others. Each unit has its own health pool (HP), attack damage, attack speed and attack range. There are a total of 6 units and the M-5 tank that also has its own HP, attack speed, and attack range.

Toy Clash character design up close
Adorable and detailed 3D character design.

There is also an Energy bar. It’s the same like Mana in the card game Hearthstone. Each unit has its own price measured in energy. You can spawn a unit unless you have enough energy to buy it. There are no limitations on the number of units you can spawn in the game and you can spawn many units of the same type. The Energy bar will fill up over time and you can more energy when you defeat enemies.  There is also an option to upgrade the energy bar by extending its maximum capacity and making it fill up faster. Doing that will also cost energy. The idea is to keep a good balance between using the energy for spawning units or upgrading the bar so you can spawn more powerful units and be able to spawn units faster.

Furthermore, each unit, except the M-5 Tank has different movement speed. Some units are faster than the others. This is a very important thing to create strategic moves to help you gain the upper hand in the battlefield. I use it a lot and it’s really fun to be able to come up with your own creative moves and tricks.

Toy Clash AR game screenshot in augmented reality
Small gameplay area but lots of action. Me attacking the enemy’s base with lots of high-cost minions.

Another important thing to note is that each unit can also be upgraded. An upgrade improved the unit’s stats, making it more resilient to damage and more powerful. You upgrade units using ‘Bolts’ which you obtain when you finish a match. Winning a match will obviously grand you more bolts than losing it. At the end of each match, you will have the ability to move on to the next stage or go to the home base to upgrade your units.

Another very important thing in this game is the Abilities (Spells). For example, you have an ability that deal area damage, another one for high single-target damage, an ability to increase the units damage within an area or a healing spell that continuously replenish health for units within its area of effect.

All of the abilities are on cooldown. You can use them against until they are filled up again. You start the game with a single ability and unlock more abilities as you progress through the game. You can only choose two abilities to use in each match and those cannot be changed during the match.  Once you unlock many abilities, you need to decide which two you wants to use. If you fail a match, maybe it’s a hint that you need to change your abilities for the next match. For example, I was stuck at one stage for quite some time, but I figured out that one ability can really make my life easier. I added that ability helped me to complete the stage. The same doesn’t apply to units. You have all the units available for you during the match and you can pick up anyone you want based on the amount of energy you have.

Characters and abilities screen, Toy Clash AR
Characters and abilities screen in Toy Clash AR

After you finish a stage you will get a 3-star rating based on three things: First, if you were able to finish the stage with your tank in full health. Second, you finished stage level under two minutes, and third, you get one star when you complete the level. So you are going to get at least one star in each level and those start will also decide how much bolts (money) you are going to earn at the end of the round.

There are also several boss fights which are really cool, some of them are quite tricky. Toy Clash AR has a total of 32 stages. It’s less than the PC version that has 48 stages. The stages’ screen shows “Coming soon” after the 32 stages, so we can just assume that more stages will be released by the developer in future updates.

Fun Factor & AR Experience

Top Clash AR is one of the most enjoyable ARKit games I played to date. I love strategy games. Some of my favorite strategy games are Starcraft (RTS) and Civilization (Turn-based). This is one reason why I was so eager to try this game out.

Top Clash AR has very intuitive controls and as simple as it looks, it does requires strategic thinking and encouraging players to carefully choose which units and abilities to choose when they start a new stage. Because how the game is designed., you sometimes need to fail in order to figure out what abilities are the best choice for a particular stage and pick them out before you start the next match.

Toy Clash AR victory screen
Toy Clash AR victory screen. Only one star? know I can do better than this.

It’s not a very difficult game but not too easy either. I finished it after 3 hours.  I felt a need for twice more stages than what the game offers or at least have a harder difficulty mode that will make me come back for more. I do hope that the developer will add more challenging stages in the next update.

The entire gameplay experience is immensely fun and satisfying.  Everything in this game was designed to the finest details. For example, the menu is part of the 3D scene, not an overlayed window menu. It even rotates as you move around it, so it doesn’t matter which angle you look at it, I can still read the information clearly

The controls are so intuitive and make you enjoy the AR experience, rather than being a distraction. For example, some games require constant tapping on the screen which impairs the experience because the screen moves almost the entire time.

The last strategy tower defense game that I’ve played was Tower AR. That game looks beautiful but it wasn’t challenging and there was no way to spawn battle units. You only put turrets alongside the enemy’s movement path. That game also had a relatively large map which I found to be inconvenient to play in several areas in my house. After Tower AR, I  felt that I wanted to play a different strategy game that demands frequent user interaction and I am happy to find one like that.

Toy Clash AR touches all those important areas like usability, simple controls, user interaction, progression, comfortability, immersion, and so on, and the developer seems to do its best to perfect every single one of those gameplay aspects.

Winter map, Toy Clash AR screenshot
I love the winter map, some of the more tricky boss fights took place here.

The visuals are among the best I’ve seen in an ARKit game. The game uses cartoon-style visuals, which perfectly fits the “toys” theme of the game. The stages look very detailed with lively vibrant colors. I even enjoy starting each match because how beautiful way the level is generated like it’s coming out of from a children’s pop-up book.  The game has pleasing visual effects, great sounds effects, and cheerful music in the background. I also really liked the character’s design and the animations. This is one of those games that you can feel the passion of the developer to deliver a great gaming experience to the user in every possible way—seriously, brilliant work!

I did have one handling inconvenience playing it on the iPad though. When I played the game, it’s not too comfortable holding the iPad in the left hand and dragging character with the right hand.  After playing for some time you feel the weight of the iPad on the left hand because you usually just let the right hand lose to control the characters in the game. I found out that you can still play the game while holding the iPad with both hands. You just point the iPad to where you want to place the unit and drag it with your thumb, but it wasn’t comfortable to play that way, and I have big hands. You won’t get this handling inconvenience playing it with the iPhone because of its small size and weight. It’s not a big problem, just an inconvenience that I think it’s worth bringing up.

Some points regarding immersion and usability

Toy Clash AR plays like a board game. It doesn’t correlate the gameplay mechanics to your positioning in the real world space. In that aspect, it’s less immersive compared to other AR games that I’ve played that requires movement and their gameplay is associated with the player’s positioning in the real world space. I can mention some of them: Dragon Power Fighter AR, AMON, Meddling Martians AR and there are many others.

The game plays more like My Country, where the gameplay area fixed on a flat surface Of course, not every game needs employ spatial-based gameplay mechanics.  You can play this game comfortably from the chair in the living room and focus on the strategic moves without putting in any physical effort.

Toy Clash AR game on the table in the living room
Looks at this beautiful and inviting game stage. My living room looks so pale in comparison. Look how the UI faces the player no matter where he is in the real physical space.

I found myself not needing to move the iPad around the stage. Furthermore, the focal length of the iPad lens makes the stage look a bit zoomed in, so most of the time I wasn’t even seeing the real world environment. Because of that, it felt that the AR doesn’t add a lot to the gameplay experience. In the game “My Country”, you at least have sort of spatial-based interactions. For example, when you move closer to the board, the citizens wave to you when you get close the sound changes based on how close you are to certain objects in the scene.Toy Clash AR felt more like a chess game in that way, Bottom line, fun and enjoyable to watch in AR but not as immersive as other AR games.

If you are searching for a strategy game put slightly more emphasis on positioning I recommend checking out an ARKit iOS game called The Machines. The map of the game was designed to encourage movement through the level. It’s a great game and I recommend reading my review to find all about it.

The other thing that I found missing is that there wasn’t any way to resize the game’s stage.  When a surface is located, the player just needs to tap the screen to deploy the game. I don’t see any reason why not offer that type of functionality.

Other than that, the gameplay went smoothly without any prominent issues

Conclusion

I had a blast playing Toy Clash AR on my iPad. This is one of the more visually appealing and enjoyable ARKit games that I’ve played to date. The game has stunning presentation, amusing and adorable character design and animations, moderately challenging and addictive gameplay experience, lots of flexibility in choosing your battle units and spells, gorgeous stages and cheerful accompanied music that beautifully wraps up the entire experience.

Toy Clash AR is not an innovative ARKit game, but not any game has to be. It was designed to be played the way it is as the gameplay was derived from the original Toy Clash title. Having said that, you can clearly see that the developer put a lot of effort in making sure players get the best possible AR experience and it nailed it almost perfectly.

The game length is quite short in my opinion and it lacks replay value. Having said that, I wasn’t able to get all the 3-stars in every stage and I will go back to perfect each level. That being said, I would have liked to see more stages with a harder difficulty that will keep me challenged and coming back for more. I don’t know about you, but a 1-vs-1 online Clash Royale style game mode (against real players) will be so cool.

Toy Clash AR is not a free AR game, but if there is any game out there that is definitely worth paying for, this is one of those games. If you love playing a strategy game, you ought to get this game—Highly Recommended!

Click here to visit the official game’s page on iTunes.

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