The age-old battle between cat and mouse has been revamped with this indie hit by Cassel Games. Ratropolis tells the story of rebuilding your mouse civilization and defending it from potential invaders. You as the player are given the role of seeing and managing important aspects of your town like the economy, military, and buildings. The game includes both a mix of city building and tower defense along with a real-time strategy aspect with building your deck.
The World of the Rats
The premise and objective of Ratropolis are fairly simple. Your old city has been destroyed by zombie cats and you must rebuild the city and expand your territory. You are given the chance to play as the little guy as they try to defend their home from invaders.
You can choose to play from 4 different locations that all have unique bosses and obstacles that you must overcome. My personal favorite is the coast area where the area is more tropical and you must face against otter pirates with decked out ships and cannons.
The player can also select from three difficulties: easy, normal, and hard. The game also includes a tutorial for new players that will teach them everything they need to know.
There are 30 waves of enemies in a game, that will increasingly get harder as you process. Once you beat the thirtieth wave, then you have successfully defended the town. However, you have the option of making the game harder with “Nightmare mode”, where the waves will go on indefinitely. Personally, this game mode was enjoyable because of its challenging nature and how one mistake can lead to your downfall.
The visuals of the game remind me of a very rustic setting and the rats do not fill out of place in their environment. You can also see them walk around the city and do various tasks from defending the town or building a house. The soundtrack also adds depth to the gameplay as the music is all cheerful and then becomes eerie when the cats come to attack your base. You will also hear the faint sounds of rats cheering when you complete a task.
Leading the City
The game currently has 6 leaders that you will unlock as you process through the game. You start with the merchant class, which is all about earning gold from labor and skills. While the engineering class focuses on development and inventions. There is even a shaman class where you must gather the souls of your fallen mouse comrades to unleash devastating attacks on the enemy. Each leader involves a style that allows for a lot of replay-ability and strategy. Learning the skill set of each leader does take some time to get used too, but the core mechanics of the game remains the same.
It is a difficult task to lead a city by yourself. This strategy game will equip you with various advisors to help you out with city management. They each have a specific talent in either military, finance, or leadership. These advisors are essential in clearing the waves as they can provide a major boost to your defense. However, earning these advisors can be a hassle. They can be earned through completing in-game events, defeating the waves, or unlocking a chest. The tricky part is that the advisors you get are completely random and might not benefit your current setup. For example, you might get an advisor that increases labor effects, but you don’t have any labor cards. All advisors are not created equal!
Building a City with Cards
At the beginning of every game, you are given a blank slate and must build up your town from scratch. The first 5 cards you draw are crucial to the start of your town. If you are given cards you don’t like, then you can discard them and reload new cards after a cooldown.
Cards are split into three groups. You have the military cards that give you units to deplore in battle. The building cards that you can place in your town. Then lastly, you have the skill cards that can range from dealing damage to an enemy or gaining gold.
Tip: I found it best to bring my military units first in order to beat the waves of enemies. After the wave, you are given cards that can be used to boost the economy and expand your town.
Of course, everything causes money even in the world of rats. You have to think strategically when to use a card because it will require gold. In the beginning, it might be difficult to earn gold so your opinions are pretty limited. You are also limited in the number of things you can do with your city due to the ratizen limit or the number of rats living in your city. As the player, you must decide what to do with your citizens. Whether it is to have them join your army, farm for resources, or build a new building. Both of these are elements are crucial to the success of your city, so managing them properly plays a key role in beating the waves.
Random Events and Rewards
After every wave is defeated, you are given a treasure chest that gives you a choice of a reward. The rewards are random but may include new houses for your citizens, new cards, or gold. Due to the randomness of the rewards, you might get lucky one game and get a powerful military unit to mow down your enemies or a random card that you will never use.
As the leader of your city, you are tasked with determining important decisions. Random events will start to spawn in from time to time that can help or hinder you as a player. A fire could suddenly erupt in the town, killing some of your citizens, or butterflies will give you their blessings and reward you with gold when you click on them. Some of the events will also give two choices to pick from and you must face the consequences of your actions. For example, the cats have ordered a ransom of gold to be paid or they will attack immediately. You can either try to defend your city without time to prepare or lose a large chunk of your gold. My best advice is to pick the option that you are best equipped to handle.
Merchants will also visit your city from time to time, where you can buy new cards from them with gold. The times they spawn do appear to be random and also the cards they bring with them. The randomness of the rewards and events do provide a lot of replay-ability, but might be frustrating to new players just trying out the game that isn’t experienced with the mechanics just yet.
Tip: Make sure you click on the events and merchants! There are on a timer and will leave if they are not clicked.
Pros and Cons
|A lot of replay-ability with unique characters that involve different strategies||Randomness of rewards and events make the game unpredictable|
|Quick-paced and easy to learn||Slow start with lack of funds to build the city|
|Has a harder difficulty for more advanced players||Once your defenses are down, it becomes impossible to defend against the enemy|
When first entering Ratropolis, I did not know what to expect at first. The game involves simple mechanics in both tower defense and city-building but involves complex strategy management. You will often find it very rewarding to start from nothing to an advanced civilization of rats. It is often unpredictable, but that is what makes games like this work. It is a slow grind at first, but once you start beating the waves, then you can truly reap the profits of your hard earn work.
Story: ★★★ 3/5
The story is pretty simple and doesn’t add complexity to the characters or backstory of the world they are in.
Visual & Audio: ★★★★ 4/5
The visuals match the world well and the music can add to a level of tenseness when needed. However, I did find it somewhat repetitive after a couple of rounds and areas of the game can be dim and dark.
Game Mechanics:: ★★★★★ 5/5
The game mechanics brings a refreshing take on the tower defense genre as it mixes several game genres beautifully together. It works as a tower defense, card-building, and city-building game without making it too complex.
Enjoyability: ★★★★★ 5/5
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Ratropolis. Trying out each leader was a blast as I had to change my character every time to match the situation. Progression was also a rewarding experience as I unlocked new cards and skills.
Overall Rating: 85/100
Developers: Cassel Games
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