Just Browsing: Defend!

Platforms: All

There must be a compulsion in humans to defend their castle. Some addictive quality that we simply cannot ignore. Games have been exploiting our weakness for decades, draining us with wave after wave of hapless enemies trying to breach our walls. The idea spans back to the old real time strategies, Dune, Command & Conquer, Warcraft, but the pure concentrated version of this has evolved in recent years going by the name of Tower Defence. These evil games prey on our feverish addiction and drive us to the brink of madness. At the same time it is a satisfying and enriching madness, so we are probably all the better for it. Today I present to you a recent superb effort at adding some life to the tower defense genre, and also a rather interesting simplistic take on the real time strategy genre.

Kingdom Rush by IronHide Games
This surprisingly polished game takes every element that tower defence thrives upon and cranks it up to full. Tactical planning, timing, upgrades, levelling, damage types, special moves and bosses have all been precisely designed to create an almost perfect tower defense experience. While it inevitably borrows most of these ideas from previous releases, everything feels so natural and compelling that it is incredibly hard to put down.

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Despite all the the lovingly designed cutesy models, Kingdom Rush is defiantly difficult. Most levels will take several attempts to create the perfect defence, combining soldiers who block the invading troops and ranged attacks who bombard them from afar. Yet even when this point has been reached it takes intricate use of the special powers (reinforcements that block up the paths, and armageddon that rains fire down upon your enemies) to ensure a flawless victory. Seemingly well beyond its price tag of zero, this game will keep you coming back until every last drop of content is complete.


Solarmax by Nico Tuarson
While not technically a tower defence game, lacking towers and allowing offence, Solarmax is an interesting spin on the real time strategy genre. Stripping out all mechanics except basic movement, your task is to invade and colonise planets using your ever growing supply of ships produced back on the home planets. Essentially a game of outwitting the remarkably smart AI, Solarmax is all about timing your attacks to destroy the enemy at their weakest point.

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Arguably Solarmax is suspiciously similar to Phage Wars, which is suspiciously similar to Nano War, but there is some undeniable fact the move into space makes the game feel more involved. With the addition of some unique objects such as lasers, warps and shipyards it makes for a more strategic game than its predecessors. Like Kingdom Rush, Solarmax ramps up the difficulty curve towards the end and becomes excruciatingly hard. At this point the enemy is constantly invading and their mothership is churning out rockets faster than you can click, the game becomes eye-meltingly intense and often you’re left screaming that it is impossible. Stick with it, it can be done.

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