As even the biggest real-time-strategy fans will tell you, the genre can be full of “lonely exercises in sadomasochism”. Now though, indie developer Asher Vollmer is setting out to change all that with his new game, Close Castles.
Vollmer, one of the great minds behind Threes, says that he loves RTS games, but he hates playing them.
Let’s face it: RTSes are miserable pain engines designed to give players the worst possible experience. They’re kind of fun (though deeply stressful) right up until the first interaction with another player and then it’s all downhill for the next 40-or-so minutes. You play until someone gives up.
I intend to fix all that with my new game, Close Castles.
Close Castles is headed to PlayStation 4 next year, says Vollmer. The game is a minimalist, local multiplayer “turbo” RTS, where rounds last just three minutes apiece if you’re playing on the quickest setting. It’s also controller-only, which Vollmer says has inspired him to make the controls as simple as possible.
The game is built for local multiplayer, so there’s no hidden information. This means that the game feels a lot more like a fighting game at higher levels. It becomes about reading your opponent and turning the tiny cracks in their strategy into a crumbling pile of failure/rubble. This game is all about destroying buildings, so there’s a lot of rubble in it.
The premise is simple enough: You and your greatest rival have built castles wayyy too close to each other. Your task is twofold: Send out loyal citizens to tear down your enemy’s castle at the same time as you’re building up your kingdom (and protecting your own castle). Vollmer says he hasn’t quite figured out the “amazing harrowing story” to justify quite why the castles are built so close together.
Plus, it’s super-cute, thanks to artwork from Dominique Ferland. The cutie-based artwork has been carefully chosen to make this “brutally strategic game” look remotely approachable.
No dates for Close Castles beyond a nebulous “2015”, but given that could be as early as a few weeks away, we’re not too worried.