(Disclosure: The review­er pur­chased his copy of the game. Ironcast is avail­able from Steam here. Also some unmarked spoil­ers are present.)


Tales of Gunfire and Busted Movement Drives

Tales of Gunfire and Busted Movement Drives

Created by Dreadbits, and fund­ed ini­tial­ly by Kickstarter, this game came run­ning out of the gates with a hum­ble £10,183 (Or rough­ly $15,601 for the non-Brits in our audi­ence), meet­ing their £10,000 goal. This also appears to be the first game from Dreadbits — which is lead in an ad-hoc fash­ion by Daniel Leaver, who is a vet­er­an of pri­or projects. He has brought togeth­er devel­op­ers and artists inter­est­ed only in develp­ment of this par­tic­u­lar game. Despite this, they have man­aged to cre­ate a rather reward­ing, chal­leng­ing, and aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ant game.

Steampunk Storylines

Ironcast is set in the 1886s, dur­ing a war gone mad and hav­ing gone on for near­ly a decade between the English and the French. The play­er con­trols one of the epony­mous Ironcast: a machine of war rough­ly 20 feet tall, and cov­ered with all man­ner of pro­jec­tile and ener­gy weapons. Powered by Voltite, (an in-universe super ener­gy) they were the lat­est inno­va­tion in a war orig­i­nal­ly dom­i­nat­ed by artillery. They were cre­at­ed by the Consortium of Merit, an order of sci­en­tific ladies and gen­tle­men tired of the war, and they took to the field in the­se Ironcast. The game picks up with Aeres Powell after the French descend­ed on the English shore­line in hun­dreds of air­ships, and their own Ironcast. Becoming the only sur­vivor of this French attack, your pilot moves to defend England, for Queen and coun­try.

Gameplay and Giant Mechs


After a short tuto­ri­al, you are thrust into a mod­ern, steam­punk inspired bat­tle­field — orig­i­nal­ly as Aeres Powell but with the abil­i­ty to unlock four oth­er pilots. As well char­ac­ter choice, you are able to use four Ironcast suits. But the­se, like the pilots, must be unlocked. The four mechs offer a vari­ety of heavy roles to assist in the the bat­tle­fields of England.


Ironcast opens with Aeres Powell and the Dunraven as she awak­ens from a bomb induced uncon­scious state. The French are bomb­ing the sea lanes in prepa­ra­tion for a prop­er assault on the English shores, and you are tasked by your com­man­der to get out of the area as quick­ly as your pneu­mat­ic legs can car­ry you — but not before a sim­ple test of the com­bat sys­tem.



The major­i­ty of the game­play lies in a Match Three sys­tem mar­ried to RPG aspects, ala Puzzle Quest. The play­er is given the means to effect numer­ous actions across a sin­gle turn, with com­bat being the sim­plest to affect. With dri­ve speed and shield pow­er which increas­es your mech’s chances of dodg­ing a shot, and also increas­ing your mech’s chance to sur­vive an oth­er­wise killing blow, respec­tive­ly. The final default action is to affect repairs from the Ironcast’s sup­plies, to return to func­tion a weapon or sys­tem that was dam­aged by ene­my fire or oth­er cir­cum­stances. Combat is one of the sim­pler aspects, as you mere­ly choose which weapons to fire and the game ran­dom­ly deter­mi­nes whether you hit depend­ing on how fast your opponent’s vehi­cle is run­ning, and how much dam­age you do depend­ing again on the shield lay­ers they have pow­ered.

However, sur­vival in the field is not so easy, as you are tasked with main­tain­ing the Ironcast’s vital sys­tem, ammu­ni­tion, pow­er, cool­ing, and repair stor­age by col­lect­ing them from the sup­ply grid. Each of the mech’s actions requires some com­bi­na­tion of the­se resources in order to act, and while you can do each action almost indef­i­nite­ly, you will need to col­lect as shred­ly as you can.  You only have three chances per turn to gath­er resources, before your oppo­nent (often anoth­er mech, but some­times a steam­tank or the end­boss) gets a chance to act and gath­er resources unseen, while also act­ing in the same ways you are able to.


Linking each resource on the grid is a sim­ple affair and can — as long as the resources are touch­ing — make an almost end­less chain. This is need­ed for expe­ri­ence bonus­es, and also to make each of the pilots’ spe­cial abil­i­ties to func­tion. This also helps when col­lect­ing scrap, which is need­ed to pur­chase new upgrades and abil­i­ties once you return back to the base.


At the base, you are pro­vid­ed a moment to rest, recu­per­ate, and repair the Ironcast. A chance to review which weapons you have equipped, dri­ves to increase your mech’s speed, swap­ping out your mech’s fields, and choos­ing which pieces get var­i­ous abil­i­ties and upgrades as your pilot lev­els up between match­es. Once this is done, you can head onto the map.


You are given a few days notice, of a mas­sive French inva­sion being lead by an extreme­ly large Ironcast mech with four legs While the English are doing their damnedest to keep it back, it will slaugh­ter every­one it can on its way to Westminster. To pre­vent the­se unfor­tu­nate cir­cum­stances from occur­ring, you are to choose one of three to four mis­sions a turn. Orange mis­sions appear to be the default dif­fi­cul­ty, with red some of the more trick­ier mis­sions.

Win or lose — And you will lose a lot — you are reward­ed between games with expe­ri­ence that is used to unlock the lat­er pilots (who are some of the most diverse char­ac­ters this review­er has seen), and the oth­er mechs. You are also given mech upgrades for your per­sis­tence which will stay between games, and effect fur­ther playthroughs. Death is not the end for a play­er. The mech and pilot on that time­line, per­haps, but not for the play­er.


Should the play­er sur­vive, one will even­tu­al­ly have to come to terms with the main invader of England and face him in the flesh… err… steel, fight­ing him in the streets and pray­ing to God and Country that the men you have col­lect­ed will have been enough to bring him down to your lev­el. A one for one exchange of men to the boss’ final health will occur dur­ing this final mis­sion, rep­re­sent­ing them doing their damn­dest to slow him down.

From this fight, it is a mat­ter of luck, parts, skill, and prayers to the Random Number God, that you will sur­vive. A num­bers game, where the bat­tles are bru­tal. But it seems as though there are none so bru­tal as this boss who is armed to the teeth and armoured straight to the gills. Your wins pri­or to this are cru­cial to your sur­vival.

Ye Olde Fancy Music & Sound

The music has a charm­ing qual­i­ty to it, with a vari­ety of clas­si­cal pieces done with a bit of flare. The men­ac­ing ver­sion of La Marseillaise dur­ing the first boss sent up chills along my spine. Numerous oth­er pieces ensure that your ears are not over­ly bored by rep­e­ti­tion. Warm horns and vio­lins fill out the score, with drums here and there remind­ing the play­er of the thun­der of war, with cym­bals crash­ing punc­tu­ate the suc­cess of the mis­sion.

The sound design of the stompy Ironcast mechs them­selves is appro­pri­ate, and the var­i­ous weapons avail­able are sat­is­fy­ing as they explode, shoot, can­non, plas­ma fire, launch rock­ets and unleash light­ning hell on your oppo­nents. The whistle of a steam tank as it approach­es its death and oth­er bits of sound add to real­ly round out the atmos­phere of the game.

Technical Bits & Settings


There aren’t, for such a sim­ple game, much in the way of set­tings and there haven’t — for the time played (8+ hours as of time of writ­ing) — been any major bugs either. Dreadbits runs an excel­lent ship, with the game run­ning quite well, and at a fair speed with­out slow­downs.

Final Thoughts

For a turn-based, match 3, rogue-lite RPG, Ironcast is a rather unfor­giv­ing game. This is tem­pered, how­ev­er, by the fact that the game saves between mis­sions. It is an easy game to get absorbed in but also to pick up and leave as you have time. It is also one of those games where it’s easy to indul­ge in One More Mission syn­drome. Unfortunately, it can get frus­trat­ing for those who are not used to the fick­le nature of the ran­dom num­ber god, with some playthroughs being lost only by a run of bad luck. Even high skill play­ers are not exempt from the wrath of ran­dom num­bers.

Though the game is is dif­fi­cult, that is one of its sell­ing points. But it is a fine wine of dif­fi­cul­ty. One that can be excep­tion­al­ly bit­ter, and is not meant for all tastes. In fact, I have yet to defeat the first boss as of this writ­ing. That does not mean I will not keep try­ing. I look for­ward to more from Dreadbits; Ironcast is an excel­lent­ly made and dif­fi­cult puz­zler.

You can see the orig­i­nal Kickstarter trail­er here.

Buy this game if: You are look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent out of the match 3 gen­re and is a chal­lenge to com­plete

Buy this game at a dis­count if: You aren’t fond of match 3, or can get reg­u­lar­ly frus­trat­ed by los­ing.

Do not buy this game if: You do not care for match 3, and get turned off by the need for per­sis­tence.

Michael CampbellPCPC ReviewsIroncast,PC Reviews (Disclosure: The review­er pur­chased his copy of the game. Ironcast is avail­able from Steam here. Also some unmarked spoil­ers are present.)  Tales of Gunfire and Busted Movement Drives Created by Dreadbits, and fund­ed ini­tial­ly by Kickstarter, this game came run­ning out of the gates with a hum­ble £10,183 (Or rough­ly $15,601…
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Michael Campbell
My name is Michael Campbell. I am a bud­ding writer, pro­duc­er, and the content-manager for off-site opin­ion pieces. I focus on Early Access Game Reviews, Traditional Games Media (Primarily Pen & Paper Role-playing Games), Steam Games, Origin, and Indie Titles. My inter­ests include draw­ing real­ly ter­ri­bly, run­ning far too many RPG games a week and hor­ri­fy­ing my co-workers and friends. I also get real­ly angry on Twitter at injus­tice. I am also like­ly going to become a fix­ture in the edi­to­ri­al sec­tion of this site, due to the above anger. You can reach me at if you have ques­tions or com­ments; As well, you can reach me @EvilBobDALMYT on Twitter to see some of that anger in motion.
Michael Campbell

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