Swords & Soldiers II
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Many fight for love, others for honour still some fight for Shawarma. Swords and Soldiers II: Shawarmageddon (S&S), from developer and publisher Ronimo Games, does just that as players must battle for the almighty Shawarma. S&S is a side-scrolling Real Time Strategy game pitting players in a tug of war battle with one of the three factions: Vikings, Persians, or Demons. Each faction has their own unique classes of combatants and special abilities including summoning help from otherworldly deities.
The campaign, spread across 25 battles with multiple surprise encounters, serves as a glorified tutorial while also delivering a unique and humour filled story. Each engagement introduces the player to a new type of character or resource collecting variant. These range from simple spear throwing goblins to hulking axe-wielding viking highlanders. Each unit has its strengths and weaknesses which can create memorable stalemates on the battlefield when properly countered. Control is handled using the ZL/ZR triggers to open one of two menus capable of creating new attackers, resource gatherers or defensive measures. Breaking up the action are a handful of mini-games initiated by one of the tier 3 abilities. These are a welcome distraction with two of them being standalone mini-games in the main menu. Control is smooth, fast and fluid and feels right at home with either the joy-cons or pro controller.
Visually S&S pops off the screen. Bright, colourful graphics paint an amazing world filled with Norse, Persian and hellish overtones. A substantial upgrade in every respect over the original (from Two Tribes). Initially, there was a fear that due to this being side-scrolling the action would cause confusion but thanks to the great presentation none of this happens. Every unit is easily identifiable and the player never loses sight of what needs to be done. The minimap on the bottom of the screen does a great job of highlighting where units are allowing you to freely coordinate attacks.
Audibly S&S is a home run. While none of the music will make to your personal playlists it does a great job setting the tone and helping create the atmosphere. Where the audio really shines is in the vocalisations. Between missions, you are treated to a voice acted cutscenes over-flowing with quips and thick accents. The sounds of battle are an absolute joy. Listening to goblins order each other to “stick him with the pointy thing” never got old. The clanging of metal and rock perfectly scores the chaos on the battlefield only briefly interrupted when Helga (a tier 3 warrior) is toggled to sing, thus increasing attack speed.
Outside of the campaign, players are treated to: two mini-games, single player skirmishes as well as local and online battles. Local games take advantage of the single joy-con having the switch rotate to vertical mode so the combatants can sit across from each other. This mode would be perfect for the elusive rooftop parties Nintendo flaunted in the Switch reveal promo. Online is the standard fare, which is a good thing. You choose your faction or leave your fate to random selection as well as the map. The option of using custom loadouts can and does lead to some one-sided affairs but forces you to take a more balanced approach.
Swords & Soldiers II is a fantastic game in the anaemic RTS library. While I wish there was more content from a story standpoint, there is a never-ending amount of replayability to be had with the multiplayer and skirmish modes. Slick, colourful visuals rounded out by a great audio experience make this a must-have for RTS fans and those looking at trying something new that they may have otherwise overlooked.