8-Bit Armies Complete Edition Review

Screenshot of Renegades faction attacking an enemy base in 8-Bit Armies
The Renegades faction relies on more conventional forces such as minigunners, rocket troopers and tanks

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Petroglyph
  • Publisher: Petroglyph
  • Release Date:23 Apr 2016
  • Time played: 13 hours

What is it

Back in 1998, Westwood Studios (one of the greatest studios ever in my humble opinion) was acquired by Electronic Arts and in 2003, Westwood Studios as well as EA Pacific were closed with a plan to merge them into EA Los Angeles. As Westwood Studios was located in Las Vegas, many employees didn't want to make the move and they decided to stay put and form a new studio called Petroglyph Games.

Westwood Studios was famous for its Command & Conquer Real-Time Strategy games and this is what Petroglyph Games started focusing on right from the start with games like 2006's Star Wars: Empire at War and 2007's Universe at War: Earth Assault. Petroglyph then tried their hand at other genres in the years to follow until returning to RTSs in 2015 with the release of Grey Goo. Grey Goo ran on a newer engine called the GlyphX engine and this engine would also be used when developing 8-Bit Armies which was released only a year later in 2016.

8-Bit Armies is a streamlined Real-Time Strategy game similar to Command & Conquer but with a retro voxel aesthetic. The Complete Edition of the game (which is the one being reviewed) contains single player campaigns for two factions called the Renegades and the Guardians. These factions can also be played in multiplayer either in co-op campaigns or skirmishes versus other players.

The PC version of the game received a Metascore of 69 which indicates Mixed or Average reviews. The game fared better on Steam where the game holds a "Very Positive" rating with 80% of the 1,640 user reviews being rated as positive.

Critics praised the game for its simplicity and accessibility, suggesting it was a good game for those new to Real-Time Strategy games. However, there were some criticisms made about the game lacking unit diversity and potentially being too dumbed down for strategy veterans.

How I got it

I purchased 8-Bit Armies on my birthday in 2018 along with Life is Strange: Before the Storm and Homefront: The Revolution. I'm guessing I probably received some Steam credit from my friends or family so thanks again for funding the Pile of Shame!

As mentioned earlier, I'm a big fan of games by Westwood Studios and Real-Time Strategy games in general. Considering Petroglyph is a successor of Westwood Studios of sorts, this is why I'm always interested to see what games they develop. When it was announced they had developed an RTS inspired by the likes of Command & Conquer including a soundtrack by Frank Klepacki to boot, the game was added to my wishlist.

I only recently started playing 8-Bit Armies in particular since I'm trying to make a concerted effort at completing games on my Pile of Shame that were gifted to me by family and friends: this is because I'm feeling awfully guilty right now that they purchased all these games, only for me to leave them unplayed for several years. I'm just hoping the adage,"better late than never" holds true!

Screenshot of the Renegades Campaign screen with a Heavy Tank shown
Heavy Tanks are basically the Mammoth Tanks of 8-Bit Armies

What I like:


It's obvious the game is hugely inspired by the original Command & Conquer to the point that even some of its units are basically direct copies such as the Heavy Tanks (based off GDI's Mammoth Tanks) and Spectres (based off NOD's Stealth Tanks).

Cute graphics

While the cute, retro, voxel-based graphics aren't everybody's cup of tea, I like it.

Audio is a mix of old and new

Audio in the game consists of a mix of oldschool, retro 8-bit sound effects along with modern samples. One of the highlights of the game though, has to be its chiptune inspired soundtrack by legendary game composer Frank Klepacki: it really demonstrates how he's able to create music for just about any genre.

Beginner difficulty is reasonably easy

While there are a couple of missions that will require you to employ some strategy in order to achieve victory, playing on Beginner difficulty is, as the name implies, suitable for beginners. This means the game is a great introduction for those new to Real-Time Strategy games, well at least until the recently released C&C: Remastered of course.

Variety of game modes

The game has a variety of game modes to offer besides the single player campaign. The game also offers a two-player co-operative mode, and skirmish modes for up to 8-players (where you can use a mix of human or AI players).

Steam Achievements and Trading Cards

There are 29 Steam Achievements you can earn and 10 Trading Cards to collect.

Screenshot of an enemy base being overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers in 8-Bit Armies
Sheer force of numbers seems to be an effective strategy most of the time

What I dislike:

Barebones campaign

Unlike the original Command & Conquer campaign that featured videos between missions and even sometimes gave you the option of which map to play on prior to entering a mission, the campaign in 8-Bit Armies seems very minimalistic in comparison. In 8-Bit Armies the single player campaign feels like nothing more than a linear sequence of single-player compstomps hastily cobbled together which is definitely a step backwards from previous RTSs by Petroglyph and something to consider if you're only planning to play this game for the single-player aspect.

Little strategy required

Admittedly, since I played the game on beginner difficulty, the game will be more forgiving when there's a lack of strategy involved, but often the AI employs the same tactics that are effective as a human player, which is to build up a mix of infantry and tanks and rush the enemy base. Unit veterancy isn't a thing in this game so there's not much incentive to ensure units survive either, provided you're able to take down some enemies or enemy structures with you! There are some missions where you'll have to employ a bit of strategy such as using superweapons to soften up defences prior to attacking or focusing on the mission objective in order to win but otherwise "zerging" seems to be an effective (albeit boring) strategy to ensure victory.

Nobody playing the game

The few times I checked, there was nobody playing the game in multiplayer, which is a pity since I think this game is meant to be experienced as a multiplayer game rather than playing it single-player (like I have done). The game is over 5 years old though so I guess it's to be expected.

Score – 7/10 (Good)

If you're looking for an accessible RTS that channels the spirit of the original Command & Conquer with cute voxel graphics, retro audio and a chiptune inspired soundtrack by Frank Klepacki, 8-Bit Armies ticks all these boxes. But is it any fun? The single-player campaign is rather forgettable and just like RTS games of old, there really isn't much strategy required to win. If there were still people playing the game I'd probably recommend it as a decent multiplayer title but alas, there hardly seems to be anyone around.

Is the game worth $31.94 AUD?: No. If the game still had an active community to play multiplayer games with or you have a few keen friends that also have the game, then sure, this game could be worth the asking price. If you're only getting it for the single-player though, what you'll get in reality is a mediocre single-player campaign for the money and while you'll get hours of entertainment, I don't believe it's quality time. Wait for the game to go on sale if you want to give it a try.

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[ LINK: 8-Bit Armies Official Website ]