I was not excited about Iron Marines Invasion. Originally being a mobile game with micro-transactions, it was hard to imagine a better version of the game. Luckily, I was wrong.
As someone who dedicated many hours of my life to Starcraft, I can see how this game comes from a place of love. Despite its previous questionable monetization tactics and frustrating gameplay issues, Iron Marines Invasion radiates love and care. It doesn’t always hit the target, but one can see that at least they tried.
A Mix of Homage, Déjà Vu, and a Dash of Charm
Although not an art style that usually appeals to me, and is often seen in mobile games, one can’t deny that the troops in Iron Marines Invasion have a lot of personality. They have a touch of originality to them, but the references to Starcraft and other popular franchises are clear. You will find space marines, mechas, advanced mouthless aliens, and even Kaijus.
The music isn’t revolutionary but serves its purpose. The same applies to the planets. There’s only so much the chosen art style can deliver, and although some effort was put into differentiating the planets, I bet most people will not look much past the color of their soil. Heroes are also very distinct looking, which is good in a setting with frog space marines and sentient alien cats.
A Seesaw of Satisfaction and Frustration
When it comes to gameplay, my experience was anything but consistent. It was quite dull until I discovered that micromanaging my marines could minimize damage from enemy units. However, I soon realized I realized that I couldn’t select a single unit. You’re required to manage your army in groups of troops, which was somewhat frustrating. Unfortunately, it seems that the mobile side of Iron Marines Invasion tainted the gameplay for PC gamers. The units are not as responsive as one would like when playing this genre, and the mouse kept making me feel frustrated when trying to hit a specific enemy unit.
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As I began unlocking new missions, Iron Marines Invasion started to become more thrilling. You can unlock units and heroes by playing the game, which provides a lot of replayability. Coming up with the optimal troop for each side mission presented by the game is quite enjoyable, especially when you switch the group of units you’re bringing along.
I like how some quests have you going after items with a small team while others allow you to place structures and summon more units. I also like how heroes feel completely different. They are almost like a MOBA character in a Starcraft army, which is pretty awesome. All that, on top of having many possible troop combinations led by one of the many distinct heroes, helps the game feel fresh for longer.
Good Roots, Bad Roots
Despite my constant frustration with the controls, the imprecise mouse cursor, and the absence of a mini-map and other features that RTS gamers are accustomed to, I kept playing. I was still interested in checking one more mission, unlocking one more group of troops, and completing one more side quest. The game’s mobile roots aren’t entirely disadvantageous. Without micro-transactions, the dopamine rush from accomplishing tasks makes the gameplay loop addictive.
On top of that, since each quest is fairly short, you can always jump in to finish a side quest and stop right after. There’s no need for prolonged play sessions, making the game more digestible and easier to return to after taking a break. Besides, once you accept that your ability to micromanage your units is limited and that this can’t be played as your usual PC RTS game, you might find other things that work for this game, like specific combinations of troops, counters, and overpowered heroes. While that was never enough for me to forgive the rest, it did make my experience better.
Every time I begin to enjoy myself, something occurs that reminds me of the game’s mobile roots. While my issues with the game don’t completely spoil my experience, I can’t help but wish this version of Iron Marines Invasion was better tweaked for PC gamers. It isn’t a bad game at all, but it constantly feels like it could have offered more. Despite its lost potential, Iron Marines Invasion might succeed in satisfying your craving for something close to a Starcraft campaign. Just don’t go in expecting a deep RTS experience.
- This article was updated on November 3rd, 2023