Crush Your Enemies

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Crush Your Enemies Game Poster Image
Innovative strategy doused in beer, sex, creative profanity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Promotes strategic thinking, but story glorifies life of a barbarian, glamorizing bloody battles, drinking, sex. Suggests only the strongest should prevail, can take what they want.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Primary characters -- a father and his son -- are obsessed with fighting, drinking, women. They do not talk about, want a peaceful existence. Their primary goal is, as title suggests, to crush all their enemies.

Ease of Play

Few RTS games are easier to understand, start playing; initial battles pretty easy. But there's a spike in difficulty around halfway point that could frustrate some players.

Violence

Players send hordes of little pixelated warriors to do battle with enemies using axes, swords, bows. Defeated enemies fly from one tile to next, often cut in half, spewing blood. They lie in a pool of red for a few moments, then disappear.

Sex

Lots of sexual innuendo in text, with characters talking about sex they have had, would like to have while using phrases like "blow me." A female character is presented with comically large breasts, deep cleavage.

Language

Frequent occurrences of nontraditional profanity, including words such as "gobshite," "feck," and "guttersnipe," plus more familiar language including "pissed," "bollocks."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters often talk about getting extremely drunk in taverns. In-game economy is based on frothing beer mugs, generated by breweries after battles. Some alcoholic concoctions can be used to enhance warriors' abilities, making them fight better.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Crush Your Enemies is a downloadable real-time strategy game for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs with a retro visual design. It's meant to be accessible and quick, but that doesn't mean it's any less violent than other games of its type. Hordes of tiny, pixelated warriors wielding axes, swords, and bows crowd into small tiles and attack each other, sending defeated combatants -- often cut in two and spewing blood -- sprawling and lying in pools of red liquid as they die. The main characters are barbarians who revel in fighting, drinking, profanity, and sex talk. Dialogue is loaded with colorful language both familiar and creative, from "bollocks" to "gobshite," and characters frequently speak in crude terms about having sex and getting "pissed." The game's economy is based on earning beer, and players can give their warriors special alcoholic concoctions to improve their performance. The dominant message is that barbarians are beholden to none and the strongest are entitled to take what they want.

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What's it about?

CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES is, as its name implies, a game in which the player's objective is simply to crush his or her enemies. It's a real-time strategy game featuring a band of happy-go-lucky, bloodthirsty barbarians that subverts many of the core concepts of the genre. While most RTS games are known for delivering long, complicated, and sometimes downright inaccessible games, it takes just moments to learn how to play and start succeeding at this one. You'll finish the first two or three missions in the same time it takes to read this short review. Players select a group of their "guys" (that's actually what they're called) and then click on a group of enemies to make them travel across flat maps and begin fighting. In many early missions, you won't need to fight more than a few quick battles to win. But as the game progresses, more strategic elements are added. You'll learn how to generate more warriors, gain access to new types of guys (such as shield bearers and archers), start using items that will give your guys an edge, and eventually even begin harvesting resources such as wood and meat. Perfectionists will want to play with an aim to completing all optional objectives for each mission, such as finishing with a certain number of guys left alive or within a set time limit. This will increase the number of skewered heads (think: stars) they'll receive each level, which will in turn unlock more missions.

Is it any good?

It's pretty safe to say no one has ever played an RTS quite like this one -- and not just because of its deeply juvenile sense of humor (which, with enemy names such as "Pissy LaPoop," is pretty hit-and-miss). Few -- if any -- other RTS games let players sit down, start accomplishing stuff, and having fun with minimal instruction in only a couple of minutes. In this sense, it has more in common with a mobile game such as Angry Birds than it does something like Command & Conquer. More impressive is the fact that the controls are very simple -- for example, the Nintendo Switch version can be played with one Joycon. It's surprisingly responsive since you don't need to make rapid motions with the controller, meaning that you're free to focus on defeating your enemies instead of getting lost in complex controls. There's a risk early on that this simplicity will negate any sort of satisfying strategy, but as the game moves on, players are forced to work out key strategies, such as carving the most efficient paths through enemy territory and flanking foes with warriors while archers keep them pinned down. Tactical thought is required.

But it does feel at times as though we're forced into a specific set of tactics -- especially if you want to accomplish all the bonus objectives. The small maps, limited unit types, and specific success criteria -- such as time limits -- often conspire to limit our options. You'll need to work out what the game's designers want you to do rather than come up with your own original strategies. Still, there's hardly time to grow troubled by this when most missions last only a few short minutes. It's easy to just keep clicking for the next mission until the wee hours of the morning. It may not be perfect, but Crush Your Enemies forges interesting new ground within a tired genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Most missions in this game take between 30 seconds and around three minutes, and it's easy to fall into the trap of clicking to play just one more level over and over again, so what's a good strategy to ensure you don't lose hours at a time to a game like this?

  • The barbarians in this game match our perception of Vikings in their blind lust to wage war and pillage, but what do you think leads some societies to think and act this way?

Game details

For kids who love strategy

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