Release date: 12th of August, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Fast-paced RTS
Type: Single-player, Online and Local Multi-player, Online and Local Co-op
You cannot really judge a game within a series as a singular unit (even if all three games bearing the 8-Bit moniker have been released within a timeframe of just several months between them). 8-Bit Hordes, for example, was meant to be a DLC of the first one released, 8-Bit Armies. Yet the developer felt that they have strayed enough from the path of the initial title and decided to release a full-fledged spin off. Gameplay wise, Hordes adheres to the well documented and tested formula of classic (and dynamic as I call it) real time strategy that focuses on both combat and base management. You have two distinct factions that still share a few similarities in the unit structure at the very least. The Deathsworn (an “evil” army formed from the mix between orcs, trolls and skeletons) and The Lightbringers (“the forces of good” and an army mixed with knights and sorcerers as well as a few mystical creatures). As cliché as those two descriptions might sound, there are fortunately several excellently implemented game design choices which force these opposing factions into defense or offense based on their building and recruitment output.
As such, Deathsworn’s cheaper to produce units are more prone to be aggressive and subsequently play the role of the attacker while Lightbringers can field similar troops but of higher cost and quality, best used in a more defensive role, with a slower-paced campaign that requires more attention to your bases. So you won’t feel like playing the same game, even on the same map, as long as you adapt the faction you are controlling to its strengths and weaknesses. Singleplayer features 24 total missions and the Co-op another 12. More than enough to train you for the AI or Human Player skirmishes in a more competitive environment.
8-Bit Hordes features the same large pixel game engine used in all three counterparts within its titular series and as an added bonus has plenty of destructible assets to convince players of the virtual struggle and hard fought battles in which they are taking an active role. As far as the graphics are concerned I have zero complaints. Though simplistic in its Options tab, the game looks great when maxed out and zooming close enough to see the units in rich detail. I wish I could say the same of the sounds within Hordes. Apart from the OST (original soundtrack) that has been composed by Frank Klepacki and thus drawing another connection to C&C, the rest of the game sounds are missing almost entirely. An RTS without unit sounds when selecting or issuing an order feels amiss.
Few cons indeed to an otherwise more than decent strategy experience that should be given a fair shot for the very reason that Warcraft 4 seems as likely to release in the foreseeable future, as Half-Life 3 is. Sure, you don’t have potent story-driven gameplay as in Warcraft 3 but 8-Bit Hordes still manages to capture the essence of simpler times in which an RTS had clearly defined factions that are best played by a pattern and distinct strategy, instead of just being a reskin of one another. It goes without saying that you should purchase and play it, along with the other two games in the 8-Bit series, as you get a much better price for the entire collection and you will be able to witness yourself the differences between these three great RTS’ that made 2016 a slightly sweeter year for any true strategy fan.
+ Beautiful graphics and level design.
+ Diversified unit roster and worthy AI.
+ Steam Achievements & Trading Cards.
– Nearly no in-game audio feedback apart from the soundtrack.
– Minor pathfinding issues.