There are plenty of real-time defense or “tower defender” type games available, but not all of them are quite as… cute as Alchemic Jousts. Don’t let the cute graphics lull you into a sense of security, though, because herein lies a solid game that will force you to think fast and keep you on your toes.
The gist of this 2D action strategy game is that you command an army of elementals, along with various support and offense skills, in order to destroy your enemy’s tower or capture flags. You can also play online against your friends, which seems like it could either be really fun if you are evenly matched, or else extremely frustrating for one of you.
You start the game with a very basic set of elements: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. Air elementals fly through the air and can attack the opponent’s tower from high above. The other elementals work in sort of a rock-paper-scissors fashion: Water beats Fire, Fire beats Earth, and Earth beats Water. If two elementals of the same type attack one another, they kill each other. Otherwise, the stronger elemental will kill the one that is weaker and keep on truckin’ across the field to attack the opposing tower.
The thing that really makes Alchemic Jousts stand out is a feature that allows you to mix and match your elements and skills to create other, more powerful elements and skills. For example, you can mix a Water elemental and a Fire elemental to make a Steam elemental. These more powerful elementals can survive an extra hit without being destroyed, which is very helpful for breaking through your opponent’s defenses. There are dozens of combinations you can make for elementals, along with offensive spells, defensive buffs, and passives. For example, you can zap your enemy’s elementals with lightning bolts, cover the ground with snow that makes them go slower, summon a shield to protect your elemental from being destroyed, and so on. With literally dozens of different abilities, you can make every encounter completely different.
Each time you defeat a level, you’ll receive points you can use to go to the “lab” to mix different elements and skills to create new ones. Mixing together two items that don’t result in a new skill will use up a point — even if you try something twice in a row on accident. The lab will give you hints about what to mix to create new skills and elements, but I found these hints rather unhelpful. Sometimes combinations that I thought were obvious were useless, and combinations that I tried despite serious doubts turned out to actually be something. However, if you become invested in playing this game, there is a Wiki that lists all of the possible combinations you can use to create new skills — and after I turned to this source of information, the frustration of the hints became a non-issue, and the game became even more fun as I was able to use completely different sets of skills for different levels and difficulties.
Overall, this is a fun game. It’s not something that I would play constantly, but it does have plenty of replay value; I’ve come back to it several times over the past week or so to play a round or two while waiting for dinner to cook or when I had a few minutes to kill before leaving the house. So, if you’re looking for a real-time strategy game with fun, bright graphics that can give you a diverse combination of tactics and a decent challenge, I definitely suggest giving Alchemic Jousts a try.