REVIEW – Swords & Soldiers II: Shawarmageddon

When done well, strategy games can be delightful and empowering, assuming the person playing can learn from their mistakes and overcome the game’s obstacles. While Swords & Soldiers II: Shawarmageddon does not suffer from poor game design, it has an entirely different issue: it doesn’t fit its platform.

Swords & Soldiers II is very simple to play, having radial menus of actions that the player can select via analogue stick. You are not directly in control of the characters, though. Instead, you spawn different troops with unique abilities to defeat the waves of enemy forces as you progress across the stage. While moving, you will also collect treasure and build towers to increase the power of your characters.

There are many positives about this title. It’s got a quirky charm with characters and environmental designs that match the game’s world. And that world is designed well enough to allow for all the oddities that it often depicts without breaking the immersion. While this type of strategy game is not particularly to my tastes, I cannot deny this is a very polished and smooth experience.

None of these positives outweigh Swords & Soldiers II’ major shortcoming: it is designed in a way that would more effectively be played on a smartphone.

The user interface during gameplay is tailor-made for touchscreens, and while the Switch does have one, this leaves docked mode an inherently inferior experience. Drag and drop mechanics are baked into the formula. For instance, on a controller, placing a tower on the map requires holding down a button, selecting a direction on the analogue stick, clicking on the desired tower with another button, using the stick to move the tower to the desired location on the map, and pressing a button to place. On a touch screen, this action would be much smoother and simpler, boiling down to a drag and drop movement.

As I said before, the Switch does have a touch screen, and there are already games on the Switch that entirely remove the television option. This inevitably should lead you to ask, “Why do I think that a smartphone would be a more fitting platform than the Switch?” The answer is actually fairly simple: the Switch is a dedicated gaming device.

When I go to play a game on the Switch, or any dedicated handheld gaming device for that matter, I’m looking for a gaming experience that is as complex as a console game. The main focus of Swords & Soldiers II, however, is deploying troops and bolstering support, which is generally more simplistic and uncomplicated. To put it simply, I don’t bring my switch on the bus with me to kill time, I do it to continue a larger experience I started at home. I play games on my smartphone to kill time.

Obviously this is incredibly subjective, and many of you reading this may disagree with me, but as a Switch game, I cannot recommend Swords & Soldiers II. The game feels out of place on the Switch and isn’t suited to the control scheme of a home or even handheld console. If any game doesn’t feel enjoyable on the system I’ve chosen to play it on, it’s hard to call it a good game.

I’m probably wrong about this, though, so what do you guys think of Sword & Soldiers II? Please let me know in the comments and help me improve my understanding of this game and others like it.

GAME: Swords & Soldiers II: Shawarmageddon
DEVELOPER: Ronimo Games
PUBLISHER: Ronimo Games BV
ESRB: T for Teen (Blood, Use of Alcohol,Violence)
MSRP: $14.99 US
OBTAINED: Code provided by developer/publisher for review purposes