Game Reviews

Block Fortress

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| Block Fortress
Block Fortress
| Block Fortress

I have a confession to make. I don't like Minecraft.

In fact, it's not even a case of actively disliking it. I just can't be bothered with it. Why should I make my own fun? That's what game developers are for.

You might think this fact puts Block Fortress at a distinct and unexpected disadvantage, as it borrows the aesthetic and blocky construction ethos of Mojang's modern classic.

Fortunately, Block Fortress funnels these elements into a much more entertaining (for me, at least) iOS game.

Finding a quiet spot to settle down

Rather than chuck you a bunch of construction-based toys and task you with grinding out a meagre virtual existence, Block Fortress chucks you a bunch of construction-based toys and tasks you with building a tooled-up base.

It's like a 3D tower defence game, but you have to build up your defences from scratch.

You can plonk yourself down anywhere on each map, and this initial decision in itself is part of the strategy. You want somewhere that's easy to defend, preferably on high ground and with natural barriers covering a side or two.

However, it's also useful to be near mineral deposits so that you can make modifications and additions as the rounds tick on.

God is in the defence

Controlling this construction part is reasonably easy, if a little clunky. In between rounds you can wander around the rudimentary 3D levels like you're in God mode in a '90s first-person shooter.

A virtual analogue stick on the left handles basic movement, while virtual 'up' and 'down' buttons allow you to adjust your altitude.

Inserting blocks (from which you can form walls), gun turrets, power units, lights (for night-time raids), and other resources is as simple as selecting them from your toolbar along the bottom and then touching where you want them to go in the world.

You can swap out items on this toolbar by entering the main menu through a button at the top right. There are dozens of options for every unit, so you'll want to swap around quite a lot.

In truth, this bit is a little unwieldy and tedious, and some kind of touch and drag radial selection system would have been preferable for each unit category.

Overall, though, the tactical options at your command make for some truly varied and challenging gameplay.

My first FPS

Construction isn't the only element of Block Fortress. Once the round starts, you're free to run around the map lending direct assistance.

Here the game plays like a basic first-person shooter, but it's not particularly satisfying. The controls are a little unwieldy, with a twitchy free look system under your right thumb. It's also awkward as this doubles up as the shoot command.

Weapon feedback is similarly underwhelming.

While the block aesthetic works well for the construction period, it doesn't make for a thrilling shooter. It can almost feel and look like some ancient prototype of Halo at times, but not in a particularly good way.

Building for the future

Block Fortress is an accomplished amalgam of strategy and action elements, all wrapped up in a familiar Minecraft-esque world.

While it's a far better strategy-construction game than it is an action game, the former element is thankfully the dominant one.

So, whether you're a Minecraft fanatic or you find the whole experience deathly dull, Block Fortress has enough going for it to appeal to all.

It's still a slick interface and a fleshed-out action element away from being a true classic, but Foursaken has laid some rock-solid foundations here.

Block Fortress

A quirky mix of Minecraft, tower defence, and FPS elements, Block Fortress makes for an absorbing experience despite some rough edges
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.