Cannon Brawl is a curious mish-mash of Worms, RTS and tower defence games that is currently available via Steam’s Early Access program.
The gameplay is fun but fast – there’s rarely a quiet moment in a match, and this point alone makes it distinct from the Worms series despite its apparent inspiration.
You play the game with either a controller or keyboard – an issue for those expecting mouse control – but it works because you move an airship to and from your base and other installations in real time, repairing, building, upgrading, and of course, attacking.
The game is currently in alpha build and has a single player campaign plus ranked online multiplayer mode.
You can also opt for a skirmish against either the computer or another human player locally.
Gameplay is frustrating at first because there’s so much to manage.
You’ll begin by establishing defences, capturing territory, and building mines to generate resources.
Then, you’ll progress to installing turrets, cannons and the like and set about upgrading your shields and aforementioned weapons to ensure you can either keep with or outpace your opponent.
And then, the chaos begins. In fact, it can begin at anytime, because your opponent is one strike away from destroying your best laid plans as he or she upgrades their weapons and reigns chaos upon your installations.
The objective is actually to wipe out your opponent’s castle, and it’s easy to forget that your castle is vulnerable without a shield as you focus on the fun stuff.
Interestingly, I found it more of an arm wrestle situation where the struggle is fun, but the game quickly becomes one-sided once one player gains an advantage.
This is why I believe Cannon Brawl is more RTS than Worms. There’s an incredible rush to establish your base, resources and units, and ultimately that determines whether or not you’ll win the game.
But there is one gameplay element that casts the game into its own category – aiming artillery.
With a cooldown period on all weapons, quick aiming and firing is essential to ensure you are able to get as many shots fired as possible.
Spend too long fine tuning an aim, and you’ll pay for it as your opponent strikes. Try to lob one in, miss, and try again, and in that 30 seconds your opponent could have upgraded a weapon or shield.
Decision-making is therefore called upon more than any other skill in Cannon Brawl, and as previously mentioned, you’ve got to be damn quick about it.
Turtle Sandbox is onto a winner, and for just $10 you can enjoy a relatively complete game and help guide the developer towards a polished final release.
We’d like to see more control options, and we also found performance sluggish on a Geforce powered laptop that was running on battery, so there should be optimisations to come.
The latter is particularly important because with Bay Trail processors about to be rolled out in Windows 8 tablets, Cannon Brawl could make a small fortune as a premium Windows Store game as well as a Steam game if it is optimised to run on multiple devices.
Also, the format is so unique that it’d be great to give gamers the tools required to develop their own levels and scenarios. I can see a Trackmania style community following if people are allowed to shape the game beyond the Early Access period.
If you want to check out Cannon Brawl, click here to read more and buy it from Steam