thronefall review a king riding his horse

Thronefall review – one of the best early-access games of 2023

Thronefall is what you get when you take the Kingdom games and make them isometric, with a 2.5d perspective – and it’s glorious. We loved our time with the tower defense strategy game, and in our Thronefall review, we’ll tell you exactly why you should be super excited about this early-access game.

Thronefall review a castle built extensively

In Thronefall, you control an unnamed monarch in an unnamed land. In fact, most of Thronefall is unexplained and unnamed, and this simplicity makes it such a joy to get to grips with. You’re on a horse and you can attack enemies (unlike Kingdom Two Crowns), and it’s your job to stop increasingly more challenging enemies from destroying your settlement.

You’ll start Thronefall with nothing, but you’ll soon get coins from defeating enemies. Then, you can spend those coins on buying buildings. Some of these are economic, like houses and farms. Some of these are military, like barracks and towers. And some of these are defensive, like castle walls.

Thronefall review night fighting enemies

As you get more coins, you can also upgrade all of these buildings by riding over to them and holding a button to spend the required number of coins. When you build and upgrade buildings you also choose the kind of buff they give you, or soldier type in the case of the barracks. The units that the barracks spit out are all better against certain enemy types too, so choose wisely.

So far this is all sounding very typical tower defense, I know. But what sets Thronefall apart is that you get to ride around an open world and command your troops on an open map. It is not simply having a choice of scrolling left or right like similar 2d games. You also have to factor in how the game is set over different areas and levels.

Thronefall review a winter map

Thronefall’s campaign – at the moment – has you progress through varying biomes that each has a different difficulty. Each of the maps, then, is laid out differently and requires you to change up your tactics as you encounter different enemies. And because all of the building locations are pre-set out, it means that you also need to change what you spend money on first based on its location. Don’t build your first building near an enemy spawn, for example, or you’ll soon be clearing up its debris.

Apart from the campaign, there’s also an endless mode in Thronefall. That is for those who really love that tiny bit of masochism in their gameplay. Thronefall’s graphics are also gorgeous and it has the soundtrack to match. It gives you a lovingly crafted world to run around in and some fittingly tense music to prepare you.

Thronefall review a castle

At its core, Thronefall might all sound very simple – and it is. But it’s also why it’s such a great game. Thronefall is easy to pick up and play. It’s intuitive, and you don’t have to spend hours poring over tutorials to ensure you understand what’s going on. Just get in-game and focus on holding off hordes of fantasy enemies while building your economy and defenses.

There’s something beautifully compelling in just wanting to outlast one last wave as they’re crashing through your defenses. Should you have moved your archers there? What about those spearmen you committed to the flying enemies?

Even though Thronefall is still in early access, we highly recommend it to anyone looking for tower defense, strategy action. Frankly, Thronefall is the best early-access game to be released in 2023. You should listen to us and do not let that experience pass you by.

Our Thronefall review was made possibile with a key provided by Future Friends PR. Thronefall is available on Steam.

Thronefall: Thronefall is an engrossing tower defence game that will keep you coming back for more, and it's the best early access game we've played this year. Damiano Gerli

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Damiano Gerli

Damiano Gerli was born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side. It taught him how to program basic adventure games and introduced him to new genres. Then, he fell in love with Sega -- while the Master System wasn't as powerful as the Genesis, it was where he played Sonic and Outrun. Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple. Damiano is a gaming industry professional and historian, loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs. Basically, Damiano is been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on X at @damgentemp.