July 6th, 2011 | By Chris Priestman
Oh ye valiant knights, come hither and cast thy magic over yonder to cleanse and save ye once humble origins from the evil Xitrof. Okay that’s quite enough of that. Nemesys Games describe Fortix 2 as a reverse turret defence game, but it seems much more than that with its addictive land-grab gameplay clearly deriving from the likes of Qix. Fortix 2 is designed in a way that makes it very hard to put down due to its satisfying risk-reward gameplay. It is surprising how far a simple idea can go towards making such an addictive and challenging experience.
Fortix 2 tasks the player with drawing out areas on the screen to claim back the land from the evil that has overtaken it. Around the edge of the screen is your base line, which you can move your avatar around on freely without risk of attack – until the bats are added later on that is. Venturing away from the base line towards the center of the screen will cause the player to leave a trail behind them. When they join back up to the baseline the space inside the shape they have drawn will be reclaimed back from the evil. Of course, the evil that consumes the majority of the screen is typified by more than just a dark shadow across the land. Looking to stop you in your efforts are forts and towers that shoot projectiles, lots of dragons and a number of other fantastical enemies. All of these enemies can kill your avatar on contact with either them or their magic trail they leave behind them, but this will only take one of your lives away. When environmental factors like deep mud and water are added to slow you down, then you really have to take a risk when stepping out amongst the monsters.
To complete each level, it is not enough to simply take back the majority of the screen – although that does help. Instead the player will have to destroy every tower and reclaim the ‘dark badges’ on the screen that are usually protected by a fort. Carving a path towards these areas one small square at a time provides many tense moments as the game progressively gets harder. Fortunately, there is some help gifted to the player as long as they are prepared to risk for it. Catapults are strewn across the screen, which will destroy towers when brought over to the side of good. At first, the game makes you very OCD about capturing every little piece of the screen, it becomes very satisfying. This pleasure is denied later on as the game ramps up the difficulty; issuing locked doors that need keys, unassailable barriers and magical orbs that prevent the land around it from being grabbed by the player.
The game’s most exciting moments are when new elements are introduced into the screen. When the fire-breathing, player-homing Black Dragon first makes an appearance, you have to step up your game as things become much more treacherous. As this happens through the game’s entirety there is a constant learning curve that the player must get to grips with, and it will take a while to become accustom to all the different hazards on screen. Yet more aid is granted to the player with power ups, which come to serve as the most vital of risk-reward elements in the game. Spotting a shiny star will enthrall you as you realise a chance at gaining double speed, freezing enemies or an extra life is just a few steps away. You often find yourself acting like a crazed addict who has spotted their next fix – shiny stars are gaming’s version of crack cocaine.
The game may sound fairly childish as you reminisce of your schooldays collecting badges and stars, but behind this terribly addictive game design there is more than just shiny objects and green dragons. Getting through the game the first time is easy enough as you are put on the easy difficulty setting. Ramp the game up to hard or impossible though, and a real challenge is there for those who want it. Each difficulty setting sees lives taken away, enemies sped up and more dark badges added. At this point, the only sense of reward will be found by stressing your way through each level, rather than being contained in the mere delight of collecting a power up. It’s the kind of challenge any self-confessed gaming masochist will thrive on. The only downfall of the game is a slight repetition in replaying levels and a fairly short playtime. However, each section of the island feels unique with different enemies and environments, and the classic levels from the original Fortix are also readily available.
Fortix 2 feels really clever; it feels like a strategy or a puzzle game, but it is hard to categorize it as such. In essence it is just a simple idea that has been realised to great results. It’s colourful design and basic controls appear to belong to a casual game, but it certainly provides enough challenge to induce a few bouts of frustration in a core player. Fortix 2 is a very addictive game, but is best played in short bursts due to inherently repetitive gameplay. The game plays great on PC, but the ideal platform for the game is quite clearly on a tablet, so look out for the game when it is ported across, for it shall thrive on that platform.