enfrdeitptrues

Tower Defense

  • Kingdom Two Crowns (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Kingdom Two Crowns
    Developed By: Noio, Coatsink
    Published By: Raw Fury
    Release: December 11, 2018
    Available On: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
    Genre: Sidescrolling tower defense
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for everyone 10 and older: Fantasy Violence
    Number of Players: 2 offline, 2 online
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thanks to Raw Fury for a copy of this game to review.

    The Kingdom starts from simple things: some coins, a horse, and a king or queen. A camp is built, archers and engineers hired, and a wall constructed. Night rolls in, and brings with it the "Greed". The are creatures that are never satisfied, and never have enough. They will take everything you have: tools, coins, and even your crown. They will destroy everything in their path to get what they want. Unless... you can stop them.

    Kingdom Two Crowns is a 2D sidescrolling tower defense that can be played singleplayer, local co-op, or online co-op. Controls are simply moving left or right, sprinting, and spending coins. Coins can be used for hiring, bows, hammers, farms, and more. The archers hunt rabbits and deer, in addition to holding back the Greed. Engineers cut trees, build structures, push the catapults forward, and more.

    Kingdom Two Crowns
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Simple controls; beautiful music
    Weak Points: Crashes; bugs
    Moral Warnings: Ghost; violence; goo blood

    Some things can only be bought with gems, such as mounts and unit upgrades. Gems are limited per campaign. Once they are all lost or spent, there is no getting them back. People can be hired to work for you from the camps outside your base. The camps are limited per island, so be careful not to destroy them all when expanding. Coins aren't as limited if archers are hunting rabbits or farmers are working.

    There are five different islands to conquer. Initially, the plan is defense, but as the game progresses and new islands discovered, offense into the Greed's home becomes possible. The first three islands are fair, but as I progressed to the fourth and fifth island, the difficulty was too much. Each time progress is made by destroying a Greed portal, a large wave of Greed spawns. While this should create balance, the waves on islands four and five leveled my kingdom, no matter how many units and walls I produced.

    Kingdom Two Crowns
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    I've had the game crash on me when I boarded the boat once. Seeing the archers walk in midair to their post left me with the feeling the game could use a bit more polish. The pixel art is well defined and easy to understand what is seen. Audio was limited, but what existed was beautifully done. The controls are simple to grasp.

    The king or queen is guided by a ghost to the campsite on each island. The game contains fantasy violence between the people and the Greed. Usually the Greed don't kill your people, but rather take all their coins. The exception to this is the flying Greed when they grab the people. The Greed structures gush purple goo when destroyed, although this isn't as noticeable until the player raids the Greed's home.

    Kingdom Two Crowns was fun for the first two islands. After that, the challenges were repetitive and then unfair. The rapid change in difficulty left me wondering if I missed something. In addition the visual bugs and the crash broke the feeling of immersion. I loved Kingdom, but Kingdom Two Crowns may need a bit more work.

    -Sorrel

  • Onion Force (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Onion Force
    Developed By: Queen Bee Games
    Published By: Throwback Entertainment
    Released: Mar 2, 2016
    Available On: Android, Windows
    Genre: Action-Adventure, Tower Defense
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Number of Players: Single-Player
    Price: $4.99 (Steam); $.99 (Google Play Store)

    Thank you Queen Bee Games for sending us this game to review.

    Mythology is rather interesting. So many stories can be told in such different ways. One story may be about a knight scaling a massive tower to save a princess; another story can be about gods and goddesses in a never ending struggle for power. Onion Force in particular is about a feeble group consisting of a fairy and three heroes tasked to save the last king from execution by the evil horde.

    Onion Force is an action-adventure tower defense game where the simple goal is to prevent the ever-increasing wave of enemies laying a beatdown on the sole remaining king of the land. To accomplish that mission, one must make use of towers placed in specific spots to halt the progress of the horde. Money is acquired from killing enemies and used to buy more towers. Each level has seven waves and thirty levels in total. Levels contain 3 difficulties, but easy is the only difficulty unlocked for the selected stage until you complete it.

    What separates Onion Force from other tower defense games is that you have full control of a character instead of the entire interface being manipulated by the mouse. Onion Force gives you three characters at your disposal: the Warrior, who is the sturdiest of the three; the Bowman, who uses quick-firing arrows to attack enemies; and the Wizard, who uses high-damage orbs to do area of effect damage. Since the Warrior does not have a ranged attack, he instead attacks by ramming himself into the enemies, bumper car style. This is the major reason why he has the most amount of health out of the classes. All characters can attack by ramming, but the Warrior takes the least amount of damage doing so.

    Eight towers in total can be used, with two towers being unlocked from the start. More are earned as you progress through the worlds. Towers can range from a sniper tower that shoots quick-firing arrows, a barracks that sends in reinforcements to aid you, caltrops and tar towers that slow movement speed, and the expensive, yet highly damaging generators that shoot lightning. Each level, completed appropriately (which typically means do not let the king take too much damage), will earn you one star on easy, and up to two stars on medium and hard. These stars are used to upgrade towers, and towers can be upgraded up to level 5, which makes them more powerful and more expensive. Keep in mind that once a tower is placed, it cannot be removed. Some people may see this as a downside and others might see this as another layer of strategy as it really makes you think of where to place towers.

    Onion Force
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fast-paced gameplay; multiple classes; charming art style.
    Weak Points: UI has some issues; character balance is heavily in favor of the warrior class; stamina meter adds an unnecessary layer to the game
    Moral Warnings: Some language uttered, such as b*st*rd and d*mn; the last levels in the game are clearly based on Hell — featuring pentagrams and raining blood; one class type is a wizard, as well as wizard enemies, skeletons, and demons; bloodshed when enemies are killed.

    Onions act as another form of currency used to grant temporary power boosts during levels. Onions are found when breaking through the scenery, sometimes in treasure chests within the levels, can be potentially dropped by slain enemies, and sometimes given to you when a “perfect” level is achieved. Onions can enable such abilities like summoning tornadoes and gusts of wind to blow back enemies, or bombs and fireballs to deal large amounts of damage. Since onions can at times be hard to come across, it’s recommended to only use them when you really need to. The abilities are also a bit imbalanced as most abilities only activate when colliding into enemies, which the Bowman and the Wizard only rely on as a last resort.

    Controls are rather simple. WASD is to move around, the left mouse button is to do certain actions such as attack, consume hearts, pause the game, or purchase towers, and the right mouse button is to speed up your movement as well as exit out of medical tents prematurely. The scroll wheel on the mouse can be used to zoom in or zoom out. The controller options are weird and awkward, as the character can only move with the D-pad and not the analog stick. The controller options seems to only exist just so that they can say they have functionality, so it’s recommended to stick with mouse and keyboard.

    The gameplay can get rather intense as Onion Force doesn’t give you much room to relax and collect your thoughts between waves. Only seconds are given between each wave, while your fairy companion gives off some form of commentary, such as in a hint of an upcoming enemy or some lore about the world. Slamming into enemies is quite fun, and blasting enemies with projectiles is as well, and the little breaks between mean you have to quickly and constantly come up with new strategies, sometimes even on the fly.

    One rather annoying quirk exists within. All characters use a stamina meter, but while the Warrior can still attack with no stamina (he just takes more damage), the Bowman and the Wizard are wholly reliant on using stamina for their attacks, which further adds to the imbalance of the classes. The only way to recover lost stamina is to either use a heart, or occupy a medical tent. With the way stamina works, the game itself feels entirely designed around the Warrior class while the others were afterthoughts. The other classes still manage to be fun, but in their own way, even if they are not as effective as the Warrior.

    Onion Force
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 75%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6.5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 70%
    Violence - 5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Onion Force’s art style is very reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, and seems to take inspiration from Warner Bros. cartoons as well as artists such as John Kricfalusi. The character designs are rather strange yet expressive, and may not appeal to everyone, but I found the style to be quite charming. The male characters have a silly cylinder shape reminiscent of cans. The enemy design has a surprising amount of detail put into the overall designs. Sound design is pretty standard. There are a handful of tracks within the game; I did find myself liking the last level's soundtrack more than the others.

    Even though the graphical style is quite nice, many issues exist within the user interface as well as the resolution. The UI can get in the way of certain actions, especially on certain levels, and the fairy’s text box when she speaks also at times gets in the way when you’re trying to build a tower. Onion Force also only seems to have one resolution, so when the game is in full screen, it can look rather blurry. Neither options have ways to adjust or alter so in the end, you are sadly forced to deal with it. I think an option to make the UI see-through or change the size of it would have been a nice feature, especially in a genre where visual clarity is extremely important. Some of the scenery can also get in the way of vision.

    At first, there isn’t much morally concerning in the game. There is some blood when enemies die, one of your playable classes is a wizard, and our fairy companion shows quite the amount of cleavage and leg. It’s better than the alternative as fairies in mythology were typically naked, or topless at the very most. As the game continues, more and more start to come to light. There are a few instances I noticed of the fairy character saying mild swears like d*mn and b*st*rd once. There could potentially be more, but truthfully, it’s kinda hard to pay complete attention to the dialogue and trying to set up for the next wave. Characters start to bleed more often and in larger quantities, skeletons and demons become more common enemy types, and the last area might be Hell, or at least the main villain hired Satan as his home designer. Because of this, there are pentagrams on some of the stones in the levels, and from what I believe also looks like something similar to the Eye of Providence.

    Onion Force does have its share of issues, and some are rather annoying. Besides that, Onion Force manages to be a solid tower defense game. I wouldn’t recommend it to people new to the genre as it can get quite difficult in some spots, even on easy, and the flaws may turn newcomers away from the genre. People with experience in tower defense or strategy games can appreciate the strengths it brings to the table. For only $5 and three difficulty modes, its worth the purchase for any tower defense fan, as long as the fans in particular are of a double digit age.

  • Siege Hammer (Oculus Rift) (Preview)

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    Game Info:

    Siege Hammer
    Developed by: My Dream Interactive Inc.
    Published by: My Dream Interactive Inc.
    Release date: November 2, 2016
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows
    Genre: Tower defense
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun VR experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages
    Weak Points: Slow paced; pause only works when pointing at the pause icon; no confirmation when upgrading defenses;  it’s easy to accidentally leave the level
    Moral Warnings: Bloodless violence

    Thank you My Dream Interactive Inc. for send sending us this game to review!

    We have previously reviewed VR Toolbox from My Dream Interactive and there’s a nice bundle that includes this virtual living space along with their 3D tower defense offering, Siege Hammer for $23.18. By purchasing the bundle, you save 20%. If you’re just looking for a fun tower defense game in VR, then this game can fit the bill for less than $15.

    Siege Hammer is family friendly despite the use of your hammer, turrets, and defenses that freeze and electrocute invading aliens. There is no blood or injury animations, just visible numbers subtracted from their health total/HP bar. The defenses alone are not very powerful so you’ll need to manually click on groups of enemies to do area of effect damage. The hammer takes time to recharge so you just have to keep clicking until it works again.

    The story is simple but functional. Your character, Blip, is the last of his kind and has been raised by wisps who are now in danger. It’s up to you and your hammer to save the wisps from invading aliens trying to get to your crystal. If an alien does get past your defenses, you can resume from the current wave and keep all of the wisps collected and defenses that you previously placed.

    Most of the levels start you off with very limited resources (wisps) and only a spot or two to place your beginning defenses. Every defense and upgrade is purchased from wisps you collect from defeated foes and ones that fall from the sky upon completing a wave of enemies. After a wave of foes have been successfully repelled, more places to put defenses will appear. You can only add defenses between waves while your shields are up. Once your shields are down, enemies will spawn in certain areas and you can only upgrade existing defenses provided you have enough wisps to do so. Upgrading defenses can easily be done by clicking on them. Sadly, upgrading is too easy and I have accidentally upgraded defenses that I did not mean to.

    There is a pause button which only pauses the game while you’re hovering over it. Unfortunately, when it loses focus, the enemies begin moving again. I found this out the hard way as I had a couple of gaming sessions interrupted by phone calls. Clicking on the pause button a couple of times (on purpose or on accident) will bring you back to the main menu. I booted myself off accidentally, but was happy to find that my progress was saved.
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The game starts off with an introductory level which will introduce you to the basics of building and upgrading the three different types of defenses (turret, ice, Tesla coil). Once the basics are covered, you can explore three different realms with four different difficulty levels.

    There’s a decent amount of variety with the enemies. They have elemental affinities and the bigger ones have substantially more HP. There are some waves where the enemies are faster, but noticeably frail. Depending on the difficulty you play at, the hammer’s power and recharge time will vary. Like most games, the harder the difficulty, the stronger the foes.

    Some may find the game’s pace to be a bit slow. I found it fun and had some close calls and even lost a round or two. If you like tower defense games and are looking for one that’s safe for kids to play, be sure to check out Siege Hammer. I’m looking forward to how it’s going to shape up as it leaves Steam’s Early Access.

  • SolSeraph (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    SolSeraph
    Developed By: ACE Team
    Published By: SEGA
    Release Date: July 10, 2019
    Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
    Genre: Action Platformer, Tower Defense
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
    MSRP: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you SEGA for sending us this game to review!

    Many classic games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras have spawned spiritual sequels or even entire genres based on their gameplay, stories, and more. There are hundreds if not thousands of games that mimic critical aspects of Metroid, Mario, Final Fantasy, and more. Surprisingly enough, ActRaiser, which was even for the time an unusual combination of simulation and action platformer, has had few imitators. And while they don't come right out and say it, it's extremely clear that ActRaiser was the inspiration for SolSeraph - right down the main character being a god.

    I wrote our ActRaiser review all the way back in 2007 if you are curious about this game's inspiration. (That review is not very good compared to our modern standards, but hopefully it's still helpful.) In SolSeraph, you are the god Helios, an 'older god' of the sun. The local people of each area cry out to you because of the local god's oppression. Your people are being enslaved by the 'newer gods', who are each tormenting the people of their local areas, using the unique powers they have. For example, the King of Floods floods the people whose area he controls, and it's up to you to defeat him, restoring your rightful place as their god. It's like this in each of the five regions you have to free from their oppression. When you defeat them, they also give you a power that you can use in future confrontations, somewhat like the Mega Man series does. While all of the gained abilities are useful, I found myself sticking with the starting bow and arrow, and the King of Trees' healing power most of the time.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good graphics; nice soundtrack; decent action gameplay; good to see someone try a variation on the ActRaiser formula after all these years; plays perfectly in Steam's Proton compatibility layer for Linux
    Weak Points: Good game, but could be better; some levels are poorly balanced; tower defense section isn't really my favorite, and could be better balanced
    Moral Warnings: You play as a sun god, Helios, who is older and kinder than the newer gods that have invaded each region to hurt your people; people pray to you; world was created by no longer present Sky Father and Earth Mother; you fight enemies with your sword, bow and arrow, or various magical attacks; enemies include goblin-like creatures, exploding monsters, skeletons, dragons, wizards, and other mythical creatures including a multi-faced enemy that looks somewhat like a Hindu god; one character seems to have a problem with drinking too much

    As mentioned, you are a god. You enter a lair and wield a large sword. As you go through the 2.5D side-scrolling levels, you defeat enemies (or not - many can be skipped over), and you reach and eventually defeat the boss. One thing that bothered me about this is that if you lose to a boss, you don't get to retry just that section - you have to play the whole level over again. A very small number of levels have a midway point marker that restarts you there, but I wish this feature was more commonly used.

    Once you defeat the initial lair of a region, you then can more directly guide the people by telling them what buildings to create, and where to place them. One significant difference between SolSeraph and ActRaiser is that rather than just growing the town for the sake it (and any unlocked abilities), you have a tower defense style section where you build up your town with defensive structures that keep enemies away from the town center. Each of the enemies' spawn points is another lair (sometimes large, sometimes small) that you can eventually enter once you instruct your townspeople to build an altar there. Once you defeat this mini-lair via a side-scrolling section not unlike the main level ones, it removes the dark clouds in that area of the overhead map in the city-building view. There are typically several of these areas per map (about five to six).

    Strangely, defeating just the mini-lair doesn't stop the invasion from that area - you need to defeat them all and complete the level by winning your fight with the god of the region before the tower defence attacks finally stop. They pretty much never slow down until that point, so rushing to deploy altars is not only the best way to get past this slog of a section, it's pretty much the only way, as resources like wood are far too scarce in order to be able to defeat the enemies more directly. I like how you can overhear the townspeople talk amongst themselves, and sometimes they talk about you, the other gods, or just banter about. The writing is pretty well done, but I found the actual tower defending itself somewhat hit and miss. It's not super well-balanced, and in order to deal with this, the developers make it so that each time you fail defending, it makes the next wave easier. As a result, all but the worst players will eventually make it through the waves. I personally am not a huge fan of tower-defence gameplay, but this gameplay choice is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

    From what I have been able to tell, the side-scrolling action sections do not do this. If you aren't skilled in a section of the map, your best choice is paradoxically to run - if you can avoid damage, you have a better chance at the boss. But if you don't beat the boss, as mentioned before, the game forces you to start the stage from the beginning - unless you are lucky enough to be on one of the few stages with a middle continue point, which is honestly just a few areas. These are far too rare in this game. What does help, is to use that block button liberally. Is the boss changing its motion? Block. About to land after a jump? Block. And so on. If you learn when to block, the bosses are much, much, easier.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 910

    SolSeraph uses Unreal Engine 4, and it looks very pretty as a result. It also scales up and down quite well, though on Intel integrated graphics you'll need to use very low settings to get decent frame rates. On my GPD Win 2, the game gets okay frame rates, but frequent stutter makes is a less than ideal way to play. On a proper gaming rig, it works without issues. The music is also very good, which really helps a lot. If you are a fan of Linux, it works flawlessly on Steam's Proton compatibility layer.

    From an appropriateness standpoint, it's rated E, so while it has violence, there is no blood. There is no foul language present, nor sexual content. As mentioned already, the main character is a god, as are his primary enemies. Other monsters are mythical and mystical creatures, including goblins, exploding monsters, skeletons, dragons, giant bats, wizards, and other mythical creatures including a multi-faced enemy that looks somewhat like a Hindu god. The world seemingly was created by a Sky Father and an Earth Mother. One character in one of the towns confesses to drinking too much sometimes.

    SolSeraph is an interesting game, based on an unqualified classic, that doesn't quite reach the heights of its inspiration. It's not a bad game, but it's also flawed. I feel like the level designs could be better, and the game balance has room for improvement. It also sticks almost too close to the source material in some ways, and doesn't innovate enough in others. It's neither bad nor good; neither terrible nor great. While at first I found it more frustrating than fun, it did grow on me a bit as I got used to its quirks. If you're a huge fan of ActRaiser, it might be worth a look if the price is right.

  • Spacejacked (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    Spacejacked
    Developed by: Rotten Mage
    Published by: Ratalaika Games
    Release date: June 12, 2020 (Switch, Xbox One); February 26, 2016 (PC)
    Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux
    Genre: 2D Tower Defense
    Number of players: Single player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Language, and Alcohol Reference
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you, Ratalaika Games, for sending us a review key!

    Spacejacked is in good company as a blended tower defense game. Starring a technician in a two-dimensional ship, this game is a decent and perhaps unique member of the tower defense family. What it may not be is the most engaging entry. Spacejacked, intentionally or not, encourages a frenetic yet rote playstyle. I had a very hard time making progress until I found a viable layout for my defense towers; strategic difficulty plummeted after that point. A variety of enemies and a complete layout change of the defended area help the game hold attention, however. It took perhaps five to six hours to beat, and it felt varied throughout. But, again, during those hours I did not feel like I was having much fun. I was going through planned and sometimes frustrating motions.

    The player controls Dave, a technician on a ship that, to the best of my recollection, has no name. Most of the crew is abducted, and Dave must protect the ship from waves of alien invaders while his shipmates are rescued. Assisting him are a pistol and three types of turrets which can be built at fixed points. The turret types are a blaster, a slow and damaging laser, and a field that slows enemies as they pass. The turrets are much more important than the pistol with its high cooldown; the game makes this clear in its first challenge mode mission, which takes Dave’s pistol away completely. The game can nearly be completed perfectly with no pistol use at all.

    Spacejacked
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Solid controls and clear user interface; decent enemy variety; easy to play in short or long bursts; good gameplay mix-up halfway through the campaign
    Weak Points: Limited build materials and small margin for error limit freedom to experiment with different strategies; little guidance on viable playstyles outside of trial-and-error
    Moral Warnings: Aliens are killed by the player; humans are abducted and killed by aliens

    The enemies are mostly slime-like aliens that crawl or jump along the wall and attack a computer in each of the ship’s rooms. These rooms, connected by teleporters, have slots for about five to ten turrets each. The game makes it seem like the player will need to defend multiple rooms at once. In practice, this is rarely true. Dave lacks the building material to fully defend each room. My usual technique was to spend all of my money to defend one room, and in the few seconds between the end of a wave in that room and the start of a wave elsewhere, I tore all the turrets down to rebuild them elsewhere. If there are aliens in multiple rooms at once, a few slowing turrets help immensely. Killing enemies accumulates money over time, so the desperation is lessened as the campaign goes on. I do not know whether or not the designers intended me to play the game this way; what I do know is that the game is rather repetitive when doing so and quite difficult when not. On the one hand, I could be blamed for using a strategy I wasn’t enjoying. On the other hand, the game didn’t encourage or require me to do otherwise.

    If any room's computer is destroyed, the game is over. Aliens do damage quickly. Some are slow and sturdy; others are fast and unpredictable. They are unpredictable, that is, when first playing a level; enemies appear and follow the same path in a given level the same way every time. There were alien slugs, clams, snails, exploding jellyfish, humanoids, and more by the end of the game. I was impressed at the variety, though they tended to be dealt with in the exact same way: slow them enough for the gun turrets to do their work. Spacejacked also introduces variety by changing the environment part way through the campaign, including a new version of each of the three turrets. Between levels, Dave’s pistol of questionable importance can be upgraded, and a brief side-scrolling shooter level is available to get more construction resources. It’s a well-structured loop of activity, going from preparation to defense and back to preparation again. The repetitive defense gameplay is the weakest component.

    Spacejacked
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 89%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    Spacejack’s challenge levels, much like the main story, play more like puzzles than action stages. With fixed resources and various limiters, the challenge levels assume that there is at least one correct way to set up turrets so that the aliens are defeated with no damage to the ship’s computer. By isolating the tower defense from the other little gameplay systems in the story, challenge mode focused on what I found to be the least fun aspect of playing Spacejacked.

    The game’s presentation is functional, if not attractive. Characters animate in fun little dances when rescued, and certain aliens are interesting to watch in motion. Otherwise, the art feels crude. The music and sound effects are good enough without drawing attention to themselves. The presentation of Spacejacked really shines in conveying information to the player. It is always easy to tell which rooms need attention and where every important entity is within the current room. Menus are clear, controls are good, and Dave moves quickly. He doesn’t jump; instead, gravity is flipped to move up and down, turning the technician’s sprite upside down and back as it flies from platform to platform. Not much is made of this mechanic; I think its main job is to let the player move quickly without needing to time jumps carefully. To that end, the gravity flipping works well.

    Spacejacked exceeded expectations in some areas and felt wanting in others. I wish it had forced more gameplay variety, but what is here works. The most prominent moral concern is the cartoon violence surrounding aliens and death on a spaceship. A character drinks, and there is some mild language. I’m not sure I recommend Spacejacked, but I don’t regret my time with it, either.

  • Steampunk Tower 2 (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Steampunk Tower 2
    Developed By: DreamGate
    Published By: DreamGate
    Released: April 19, 2018
    Available On: PC Windows, macOS
    Genre: Action, Strategy
    ESRB Rating: None
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $7.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you, DreamGate, for sending us your game to review!

    Mankind has a knack for inventing new means of destruction. Starting with the earliest spears, human weaponry evolved from the crudest stick to the nuclear warhead. Fictional battlecraft is no different. Game creators have fantasized one ludicrously ridiculous weapon after another, yet for as impractical as they’d factually be, we players tend to not care. We just love using them. Besides, the crazy weapon itself can be a main attraction. Imagine Kingdom Hearts without Keyblades. Or Portal without a Portal Gun. Or how could the Ratchet and Clank series even function without its cornucopia of Warmongers, Groovitrons, and Sheepinators? Steampunk Tower 2, though, wants to take this concept a step further. How about controlling a battalion of super weapons simultaneously? Still, one must consider how ‘whizzbang’ violence affects those on the receiving end and consequentially, how it affects those pulling the trigger.

    In Steampunk Tower 2’s classically steampunk, wasteland world there’s your basic society on one side and your radical terrorist club on the other. The gun-happy enemy troupe call themselves ‘The Cult’. Oh, and they’re set on world domination. (Who would have guessed?) They’ve already been stomping all over Europe like they own the place. You can probably guess, it’s world-saving time. The venerable Lord Bingham has given you command over their state-of-the-art battle tower. It’s a portable pillar of turrets, built to decimate infantry, artillery, and aircraft alike. They just fly it in, spear it into the battlefield, and ta-da! Your stronghold of doom is up and running.

    Awkwardly enough, that’s all I’ll say about the plot. Nothing interesting happens really. Nearly all dialogue is composed of, ‘Commander! Cult is doing this! We must do this in order to beat that, so fight here!’ I seldom get bored with most stories, but I really checked out on this one. I even got into skipping dialogue without a care. Look, I know battle strategies are important in a war story, but stories need more soul than that. Relationships and personalities should be at play here. Surely, these characters can have chemistry. Surely, they’ve got needs and desires for a freed world. Surely, their pasts influence their words and actions. Right now, this story is equivalent to someone narrating a checker game. What makes this even sadder, though, is that I did a little digging on Steampunk tower 2’s website. Lo and behold, there were full-blown backstories and timelines for the characters right there. Why, oh why they weren’t fully utilized is a mystery to me. Such waste of good writing effort is baffling to me.

    Steampunk Tower 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Easy to Learn; Great Character Designs; Turret Customization; Simple Fun 
    Weak Points: Not much Challenge; Dull Story
    Moral Warnings: Some Blood Splats; Battle Kabooms; Mild Language; Some Sensual Outfits

    Thankfully, Steampunk Tower 2’s gameplay isn’t quite as bland as its plot. Engaging the enemy is simple. In fact, I think it’s sometimes too simple, but I’ll explain later. Most battles are staged in enemy waves. You can have as few as three or as many as six. Some battles, though, require you to survive for a set amount of time. Either way, cult goons will be closing in on both sides. Before entering the fight, you’re allowed to equip your tower with any turret that you’ve built from your factories (more on that later). You pre-designate which tower level they’re stationed on, and once the tower is installed, they’re ready to go. The more guns you fit in, the better. Of course, you might be wondering how one aims and fires them all. The quick answer is: you technically don’t. The longer answer is: they shoot automatically with perfect accuracy. You can shuffle turrets around and shoot supershots, but the rest is done for you. Should you survive the battle, you’re awarded with gold, ore, and mechanical parts. That’s the crux of Steampunk Tower 2. It doesn’t sound like much, and it mostly isn’t. However, there are elements that keep it from falling flat.

    To further explain, I have to discuss mechanics. Underneath each turret rests two bars: a full yellow bar and an empty blue bar. The yellow bar represents how much ammo the gun has and will decrease with each shot. It refills in two ways: either automatically once emptied or manually by you at any time. There’s a benefit to both methods. Automatic refill is helpful when you’re neck-deep in enemies and can’t deal with empty magazines right away. However, manually reloading by click and dragging the turret back into the tower refills the bar much faster. Plus, you can push it out into active duty at any point. This is great when your tower is in dire need of particular firepower and can’t wait for a complete reload. The second bar, the blue one, acts opposite to the yellow. It starts empty and fills up with every fired shot. Once filled, it highlights your turret, signifying it’s ready to dish out an extra wallop. Just click and hold the highlighted turret, and then aim your supershot wherever you please. Those mechanics add some fun. However, when most fights are spent with you watching, the experience can be pretty lackluster. I often felt untested, but there are enemy and turret variances that do invoke some sense of strategy.

    Turrets come in five flavors: rapid-fire machine guns, bombastic heavy cannons, zap-happy shockers, slice ‘em and dice ‘em saw launchers, and homing rockets. In turn, your enemies will attack on foot, in planes, in mechs, in tanks, in walkers, and just about anything on wheels they can attach a bomb to. Some have extra armor, making them extra tough, but all enemies are susceptible to specific kinds of turrets. It takes experience and memorization to exploit specific weaknesses effectively. I personally wish that info was accessible mid-fight. Unfortunately, it’s not available outside of Headquarters. That issue has cost me precious time and supershots, much to my chagrin. I shouldn’t gripe too much, though. Even when I couldn’t be as efficient as I’d like, it rarely derailed me badly enough to wreck me. All enemies soak significant damage from a fully upgraded turret regardless. It’s just that some guns can hit certain enemies harder than others. Sometimes, however, you’ll face bigger badder artillery. Those guys tend to require turret attacks of a particular order if you want to kill them faster. For example, you might need a cannon blast, followed by an electro-shock, then a sawblade for a finisher. This takes good timing (sometimes on your part and sometimes on the game’s part) and smart supershot use. Just make sure your skinny tower isn’t too congested with swapping and reloading turrets to inhibit the prescribed battle plan.

    Of course, there are situations you just can’t help. You can’t help it when you’ve got five super walkers with five multi-armored tanks and twenty rocket launchers. You can’t scrounge up enough supershots for everybody. Some even carry equipment designed to sabotage your turrets too. Good thing, then, a couple of tricks were shoved up your sleeve. Most prominent of these is the tower laser. Once activated, this beauty shoots a glorious stream of plasma juice wherever your mouse is dragging. Few things feel more empowering in this game than directing a mega beam to cut Cult lines. However, you can only use it if you’ve collected enough steam power. Between enemy waves, you’ll see a skull icon with a timer gauge. This indicates when and where the next attack will be, but if you click on it before the gauge fills, you gain steam for the laser. Collect enough, and you’ll gain a point for later laser use. The quicker you click, the more steam you collect. Sure, that shortens your enemy breathing space, but if you’re willing to sacrifice reprieve for an emergency lifeline, that’s up to you. Granted, it is possible to exhaust your laser too. Good thing then you’ve got last-minute EMPs, ally missiles, and super bombs. Just remember that those special attacks are limited too and are only replenish-able with gold.

    Steampunk Tower 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 68%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 80%
    Violence - 5.5/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 9.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    All this certainly adds salt to dull fights, but there are a few extra special missions though. You could call them the game’s pepper. The simplest kind are the lab missions. If the Cult controls a factory that manufactures a part that can improve your weapons, then you have to fight them for it. Win, and you can order the deliveries you need before the Cult takes over again. However, there are challenge battles that are a different breed. In those, you must win the fight under set conditions. That could mean no lifelines; limited guns; lowered tower health; etc. The reward is usually a unique turret. However, for all the frustration and struggle I personally went through, I hardly felt like it was worth it. I won a couple of them, but I barely wanted to use them. My regular arsenal worked better for me at the time. Lastly are the boss missions. They basically involve a ten-thousand-ton behemoth of steel, ready to crush you under its screwed foot. I wouldn’t panic about it, though. It’s mostly just a normal battle against a bigger target. Just figure out its specific set of weaknesses and be ready to protect your turrets from sabotage. No sweat.

    Okay. Now about Headquarters. Along with being the tower commander, you’ve got a second occupation in Steampunk Tower 2: town mayor. A city full of refugees, scientists, and researchers are under your care. You’ll also gain some spies later on, who will be prepped for deployment at the train station. It’s up to you to build and upgrade the residences and laboratories, as well as extend the train line. Doing everything I listed is in your best interests - not just morally but beneficially too. You need money to build guns. You need ore to build labs to build guns. Spy missions bring in ore but costs gold, and ore constructs bigger more taxable neighborhoods for more gold. Improving living conditions increases tax income. Bigger labs mean bigger guns. Longer train lines lead to higher reward missions. It’s all a tight network. This town is also where you can study up on enemy stats, repair your tower, and check your weapon component inventory. I personally like this headquarters set up. I didn’t consider it overwhelming. It’s kind of fun to collect money, ore, and parts. Plus, I enjoyed tailoring my guns according to my tastes. It let me sense I had full ownership of my tower.

    The only caveat left to stunt your progress is your skill level. If not ranked high enough, you can’t upgrade certain buildings or weapons - even with sufficient gold and ore. I honestly wasn’t deterred by this too much. Like I said before, the main campaign didn’t greatly challenge me. Now, to be fair, I’m a compulsive level grinder. I take opportunities to fight for extra parts, coins, and ore. I’d thus be way ahead of the difficulty curve, and rarely did I fall behind required skill levels. Easy breezy battles were thus my common result. Now, later levels did require more investment, but even the rare fight that actually was a pain in my neck only took five tries or less to beat. I’m not saying there’s no fun in being overpowered. It’s just not that engaging. Some can argue that this was my fault. In a way, I guess that’s true. However, a game that’s unable to rebalance itself when it allows level grinding shows some shortsightedness on the designers’ part. It’s an easy detail to miss, I imagine, but it should have been taken into account.

    Steampunk Tower 2’s visuals are a blend of cartoon, hand-drawn, and painted art styles. For the cartoony side, we have the turrets and the tower. They sport 2-D designs with animation that appears to be simple Adobe flash. Silhouetted mechs, troops, and aircraft look and move similarly. It’s not impressive, but it’s serviceable. Less cartoony, though, is the world map. It appears hand-sketched on aged, yellow parchment, which is quite charming. Plus, it’s easy to read and reminds me of the maps in school books I read. However, the game’s greatest artistic merit goes to the painterly character designs. They may be flat characters (both figuratively and literally), but those smooth color pallets they’re rendered in are gorgeous from their snappy clothes to each individual hair. I commend their artists and costume designers for that. The game’s music has great production value too. While the compositions didn’t ‘wow’ me much, they didn’t sound like they were faked on a synthesizer. It sounded like a genuine orchestra. However, I found the sound effects to be the most satisfying of the audible bunch. All bangs, blasts, zaps, and kabooms were very addictive to listen to. I never thought I’d write a sentence like that, yet here we are.

    Steampunk Tower 2, to no one’s shock, has a violent side. That’s to be expected when running a portable gun bunker. I am thankful the turret action is as cartoony as I said, though. If it weren’t, things would have been gory. When Cult goons go boom, they go ‘splat.’ It’s silhouetted, thankfully. It wasn’t enough to make me go ‘yuck’, but it’s certainly enough to make me think it. Our lady characters sport some suggestive outfits too. It’s nothing super skimpy or revealing. However, two characters show a little cleavage in their tight-fitting, short-skirt dresses. Language isn’t fully clean either. Occasionally, d*mn, h*ll, and a** come down the assembly line, along with misuses of God’s name. I’ll also add that the Cult follow a god they call the Creator. Whether or not that’s an intended mockery of God and His Christians is hard to say. I personally don’t think so, but I guess there’s a possibility. To sum it up, Steampunk Tower 2 isn’t the grimiest thing I’ve played, but there are rust spots to deal with.

    Steampunk Tower 2 has got some good gears turning here. There’s joy in dominating the battlefield and customizing your turrets. It’s satisfying to grow your town, and most players can easily learn its ways. However, Steampunk Tower 2 is far from hitting a bullseye. The enemy splattering, though downplayed, is still a bit uncomfortable. Most battles become little more than gold and ore grocery trips if you’re too skilled. (Seriously, I could take a bathroom break and still win sometimes.) Saddest of all, stereotypical and less-than-stereotypical characters sometimes crassly discuss only war banter in a boring story that quite literally had useable material right at its doorstep. However, this average game is nice enough. Not something I’d encourage little ones to play. Language and blood splattering is too prominent for my family-friendly tastes, but I can perhaps see some older players getting along with it. It’s not an instant winner. It’s just fine. A lot like the tower itself, Steampunk Tower 2 is easy to pick up yet just as easy to put down.

  • The Last Day Defense (HTC Vive)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    The Last Day Defense
    Developed by: ARVI VR INC.
    Published by: ARVI VR INC.
    Released: June 3rd, 2020
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Tower defense
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Number of players: Single player
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you ARVI VR INC. for sending us this game to review!

    The Last Day Defense is an extremely fun VR Tower Defense game where you place towers and protect your spaceship. There are 12 towers, and even more enemies. You will encounter mechs, tanks, cars, and even aircrafts! With plenty of levels to play, The Last Day Defense has a lot to offer.

    Each tower has its advantages and disadvantages. Some towers cannot deal damage to tanks, while others can blow those up in just a few shots. One thing I like is that it seems like there are only three towers, but upgrading them turns them into something new entirely. The three towers are the infantry bunker, turret, and the mortar. The infantry bunker can be turned into a plasma gun bunker (a machine gun), a shock bunker (slows enemies), and a rocket bunker (medium damage and can attack aircraft). The turret can turn into a machine gun turret, a laser turret (deals fire damage), and a rocket turret (higher damage than the rocket bunker). The mortar tower can become a napalm (a flamethrower), an anti-aircraft (high damage to aircraft only), and an artillery (high damage to ground units).

    The Last Day Defense
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Extremely fun; family-friendly
    Weak Points: Bugs
    Moral Warnings: Violence

    In each level, you have to protect a ship. When an enemy gets close enough to it, it gets hit by a railgun from the ship. This confuses a lot of people because they think it’s one of their towers, while its actually lowering their rating (in order to beat a level, you need to have a rating of at least 0.5/5). It confused me at first, but once I noticed that my score was decreasing, I knew that I had to place more towers. If you decide to buy this game, don’t make this mistake.

    Some enemies can shoot at your towers. Some cars can shoot, and all tanks can as well. There are also bomber planes that drop bombs and deal a lot of damage. Some types of tanks shoot fire, some shoot missiles, and some have machine guns. If one of your towers gets destroyed, it has to take a few seconds to repair itself. Once it does that, it can go right back into battle.

    The Last Day Defense
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay: 16/20
    Graphics: 9/10
    Sound: 6/10
    Stability: 4/5
    Controls: 4/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence: 7/10
    Language: 10/10
    Sexual content: 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

    The graphics are very smooth and good looking, and the towers are very detailed. I like how realistic the fire looks, and how well-polished everything is. The music is decent, but the only problem is that it starts very suddenly, and it may startle you. There is some voice acting, and it is pretty good as well. When you deploy a tower, you will hear something like “Yes, sir!” or “Affirmative!.” When you are near a tower and they start shooting, you might hear “Open fire!”

    The Last Day Defense is very family-friendly, even though it is pretty violent. There is no blood, so when an enemy is killed, it just explodes. There is no bad language, so you won’t have to worry about anything like that.

    I would recommend The Last Day Defense to anyone who loves strategy games and tower defense games. It’s very family-friendly, so anyone can play it. There are still things that say “Coming Soon,” but unlike most games, I think they will actually come. If you like games with lots of levels and even more possibilities, I think this game is for you.

  • Unholy Heights (3DS)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Unholy Heights
    Developed by: Petit Depotto, Mebius
    Published by: Bergsala Lightweight
    Release date: June 23, 2016 (3DS)
    Available on: 3DS, Windows
    Genre: Tower Defense, Apartment Simulation
    Number of Players: Single-Player
    ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
    Price: $6.00

    Thank you Bergsala Lightweight for sending the game to review.

    Unholy Heights may have one of the most unlikely plots you may come across in a video game. You play as Satan - the manual refers to him as just a devil - as he starts a new business venture as an apartment landlord for all kinds of ghouls and ghosts.

    Unholy Heights is a basic 2D tower defense game combined with a moderately deep apartment simulation. In the beginning, the apartment complex will only be one-story high with four rooms. Each room can house three residents, but this is only for a lover and a potential child. The apartment rooms themselves will be barren, and it's the devil's job to buy new furniture and decorations for tenants in order to raise their satisfaction. Keeping the tenants happy will allow the devil to charge them more in rent. As time passes, adventurers will appear and march towards the devil's room where he hides his gold. Knocking on the door of a resident will bring them outside and they'll start to attack the closest enemy.

    There's a huge variety in the types of monsters that come looking for a room. From typical skeletons and zombies to little chickens and even fish headed beings. Each monster type starts off not trusting Satan very much. Increasing their affinity towards him ranges from how well other residents like him, to how often battles are won or lost. Monsters themselves may not like a different type of creature staying in the apartment. For instance, Demi-Humans don't like Demons, and both will lose happiness as long as the other is around. Maintaining trust and happiness is the key to success. Occasionally a monster will become interested in a tenant and will move in with them. Buying certain items and furniture increases the odds of them producing a single offspring. Essentially this is the most effective way of increasing your numbers in battle.

    Unholy Heights
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Simple gameplay mechanics; Cute character designs; Dozens of hours of content.
    Weak Points: Gets repetitive rather quickly; Inconsistent difficulty for some quests; Graphics look dated.
    Moral Warnings: It's heavily implied the monsters are having sex; You play as Satan; Abyssal class monsters pray to the devil at altars; Cartoon violence.

    The other half of Unholy Heights is the tower defense mechanic. Adventurers appear from the left side of the screen and proceed to the devil's room. Knocking on the door of a resident will have all current occupants walk out and initiate combat. Monsters have unique attack and defense traits. Skeletons have a decent attack, but lower defense than others. Demons have high magical attack and defense stats, but lower physical defense. Elementals all have ranged attacks, making them ideal to have behind your stronger physical attackers. This makes it so it's nearly impossible to win with only one type of monster, and encourages using different creatures together in battle. Buying workout equipment for a monster's room is the only way to increase their stats. Unfortunately for me, my monsters usually died after a few battles so I never quite saw the full benefits. 

    There's a decent amount of quests that can be taken on. Some will only be one round in which a big monster must be defeated, while some are up to four rounds long that end in a boss-like fight. Maintaining your makeshift army is rather difficult as you may only have creatures that deal magical damage and an entire army of high magical defense enemies will wander in and kill everyone. It wasn't an uncommon sight to see all my tenants wiped out while at the same time losing tons of gold. Thankfully there's always a constant flow of potential renters waiting to move in.

    Visually, the game isn't going to blow anyone away. As the touch screen was chosen as the primary screen, there's no 3D. The game plays out in a somewhat flat world with very little going on, aside from the continuous stream of ghoulish fiends looking for a room. From the moment you start the game, all the way to the very end, you only see one screen. The apartment eventually does grow in size, but those that play that far may find themselves bored  by then. This is not to say the game isn't fun or engaging, just that things get stale a bit too fast.

    Unholy Heights
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 70%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Unholy Heights has 10 music tracks in total and they are all upbeat and pleasant to listen to. Surprisingly, I never found myself annoyed by the endless loops that would play as hours passed by. One of my favorite features of the game can be found in the game's Sound Mode. There are four stereos that can be bought for tenants in-game, and these actually output the quality of the music differently in the Sound Mode. The cheaper radio sounds very tinny, whereas the most expensive stereo sounds really crisp and has bass. This was a nice touch and definitely an unexpected addition.

    Morally there are a few issues here for an E rated game. First off, it's heavily implied when the monsters are having sex as a loud annoying beep rings out and the description of the creatures becomes "engaging in pillow talk." Most of the time this results in a child being born. That then results in a room being filled with occupants so pillow talk just becomes everyday sex that the player must wait through. Imagine the joy of 10 rooms all beeping at once. Another issue is with the Abyssal monsters. These guys require special altars for their rooms. Each altar serves a different function, but they all are basically used to pray to the devil. This game definitely should have been rated E10+, possibly even a Teen rating.

    Overall, Unholy Heights is an entertaining experience. It's not the deepest or the most complex tower defense game, but it's unlike any other game I've played. There are a few flaws, like text running outside of text boxes and the random difficulty spikes, but those are really the only problems. Gamers looking for a charming and silly strategy game will most likely enjoy Unholy Heights. It makes some rather questionable gameplay choices, but if you're not offended by fictitious monsters worshipping the devil and having sex constantly, there's a good game here.

    -Kyuremu

  • Wizards: Wand of Epicosity (Xbox One)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Wizards: Wand of Epicosity
    Developed by: Game Mechanic Studio
    Published by: Tobuscus Game Studios
    Release date: August 3, 2020
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Tower Defense
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence and suggestive themes
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Tobuscus Game Studios for sending us a review code!

    I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with the YouTubers Toby Turner (Tobuscus) and Gabe Hohreiter (Gabuscus) until playing this game. Their characters are funny and the animated cutscenes are well-drawn and entertaining. They have a popular animated series and in 2015 they successfully crowdfunded Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards which arrived on mobile platforms. I can’t seem to find it on Google play anymore so I’m guessing Wizards: Wand of Epicosity is the PC and console replacement.

    This tower defense game begins with Tobuscus and Gabuscus (with a pause) running away from a horde of zombies. They arrive at a tower in the middle of the field and the wizard inside of it decides to help them out. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a funny but fatal mistake for him. In his ghostly state, the wizard does not hold a grudge and still assists Tobuscus and Gabuscus in their battle against the undead.

    Given the micro-transactions, references to using strokes for attacks, and the ability to earn between one and three stars at the end of each level, this game appears to be a mobile port. For a $20 title, it’s a shame that the micro-transactions are still present. The gamepad controls are a little clunky at times, but functional. I would have liked trying the swipe controls, but it’s not possible if the game is no longer available on Google Play. Maybe they work with touchscreen laptops? I can’t say since this review is based on the Xbox One version.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Funny; nice animated sequences
    Weak Points: Micro-transactions; annoying enemies and bosses
    Moral Warnings: Zombies; ghosts; magic; mild name-calling (sissy baby), some sexual humor

    Your goal in each level is to survive the waves of enemies coming from multiple directions. As you use spells and your wand, you’ll pick them off and hopefully earn stars. Eventually, an unbeatable monster will spawn and when that happens, you’ll want to cast your teleport spell to get your castle out of there before they get too close. The teleport spell takes ten seconds to cast but you can expedite it with in-game currency. If your castle is taking substantial damage, you’ll want to cast it ASAP.

    There are many different enemies and they have various attacks to be aware of. You’ll often be notified when a powerful mage appears so you’ll want to focus on picking them off quickly. Many of the zombies are slow, but there are some suicidal ones that run to your castle and detonate themselves. Some mages are annoying with the ability to re-arrange and even remove spells from your menu. Having to re-map and re-quip your character can be frustrating. The spells are typically elemental with fire, lightning, ice, and wind attacks. The tornado spell is one of my favorites since it literally blows enemies off of the map.

    There’s more to this game than spells. In order to gain an edge, you’ll want to visit the store and spend the in-game gold and gems you have accumulated through your battles. Some items are affordable while others cost several hundred thousand gold. Other items can only be purchased with lots of gems. Gems bundles can be purchased with real money and cost between $0.99 and $49.99.

    The items in the store are broken down into different tabs specializing in items, fortifications, spells, and clothing. Having healing and mana potions will come in handy if you’re running low but there’s a limit on how many you can store. Naturally, you can pay to increase that limitation. Unlocking additional spell and item spots are also available for a price. Dog biscuits can be used to send out your dog, Gryphon, to attack some enemies on your behalf. Alternatively, you can shoot him out of your cannon if you have one available.

    Wizards: Wand of Epicosity
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay: 16/20
    Graphics: 8/10
    Sound: 8/10
    Stability: 5/5
    Controls: 4/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence: 6.5/10
    Language: 8.5/10
    Sexual Content: 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 3/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

    If you clothe Tobuscus with different robes, belts, and tabards you can boost his health, amount of damage dealt and increase his chance of critical hits. Some items offer a free first resurrection which is a nice feature since resurrections get more costly with each use. Upgrading the wand will increase the damage dealt too.

    Additional spells like magic missile can also be purchased in the shop. In the beginning of the game, the spells are found in the battlefield. Though you do earn gold and gems in battle, their drop rate is rather low, especially for gems. There are items for sale that will increase that drop rate for you.

    Visually, Wizards: Wand of Epicosity looks decent. I like the variety of levels with different elemental affinities. There are lava, ice, and forest based maps to spice things up. The spells look good and provide some eye candy when cast. I love the quality of the animated cut scenes; they’re always fun to watch. The voice acting and dialogue is top notch. There is some background music, but it’s drowned out by the spell casting sound effects.

    Overall, Wizards: Wand of Epicosity is pretty clean and fun to play. There’s zombies and magic use and some mild language such as sissy baby. Gabuscus is the butt of some sexual humor because saying his name without the pause sounds funny. If you enjoy tower defense games and silly humor, this title is worth checking out. Just guard your wallet when it comes to the micro-transactions!

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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