You can see the ideas and passion behind Fortress Fury. It takes the idea of competitive tower-defense, adds Minecraft like construction, and then smatters in a few Angry Bird catapults. But, while it sets about meshing these parts together with care and skill, the end result just feels a little clunky – especially on smaller screens.
You build it up
While I may not be particularly enamored with Fortress Fury, I do like the idea and can see the care that has gone into its construction. Starting with a well-designed tutorial that teaches you how to construct and edit your fortress, it is hard to miss the way placing blocks causes a zoomed window to pop-up. This shows you what your finger is obscuring, letting you easily place blocks exactly where you want them.
Picking what you want to place is simple. A set of tabs switch between construction, attack, and other options. While initially you are quite limited in your selection, using currency earned in-app or making purchase with real world cash soon has you unlock more.
Once you have the hang of building your fortress, you can jump into the combat tutorial. This is similarly well thought through. First it teaches you how and when to switch between attackers (be it an archer or a catapult), before letting you engage in the Angry Birds-esq launching of your munitions through simple drag and release controls. Defense is similarly intuitive, as you drag shields into place to protect tiles.
But, if it's all so well thought through, why don't I like it? I think it comes from the stiffness of the gameplay and the fiddly nature of combat on smaller screens. This is not helped by the fact that Fortress Fury is really a player-v-player game (with limited AI practice modes), so losses are against a real person - very frustrating if you are the competitive sort.
Just to break me down
While a great deal of care has been taken to ensure construction feels intuitive, these same controls start to buckle during online battles. Mostly this is due to the fact that moving between units is less responsive than is required. The result is that missing with a selected attack - be it from a Ballista or Dragon's Breath - becomes infuriating as you have to select another unit while they reload.
The other problem is, after borrowing so much from Angry Birds, the castles themselves lack physics. Destroying a block beneath another rarely results in a collapse, instead they just hover until you take out a whole layer. After years of aggressive physics games on mobile it is hard not to feel cheated. More frustratingly, this limits the skill required, because your sole target becomes the castles "core" which ends the game once destroyed (rather than encouraging you to strategically take out structural supports).
But perhaps Fortress Fury's biggest obstacle is that CastleStorm - Free to Siege now offers player-vs-player combat. It is a very similar game, but includes directly controllable hero units, attacking armies, and (most importantly) proper physics.
Not quite furious, but disappointed
Despite its flaws Fortress Fury's catapult-destruction results in some tense games. Launching projectiles at other players to take out their carefully constructed fort, with you both waiting for units to reload, leads to some heart pounding moments. With slightly refined controls and greater implementation of the game physics, it could really come alive. Without that, however, it going to remain an also-ran to CastleStorm.