Daily Independent: Grab 3 Friends for FPS/Tower Defense in Sanctum

The Daily Independent is a recurring feature in which we shine a light into the darkened wilderness of indie gaming, illuminating both the good and the bad of what we find there.

One of today’s deals of the day on Steam is for Sanctum, a first-person Unreal Engine 3 tower defense title. It’ll run you $5 and at that price, it’s more than worth checking out.

The title, by Coffee Stain Studios, puts players in standard tower defense genre gameplay, but instead of having an overhead view, they’re mixed up in the action. Each level is a bit of a blank slate — it has its terrain, bridges, obstacles and so on, but you can also adjust how it looks and how enemies move through it by adding the blocks that will eventually become towers. You do all that building in first-person, so you can see how enemies will move through the map yourself, and plan accordingly.

After you build in your towers, which you warp in with a special machine attached to one hand, you can add towers (obviously) and upgrade them as you go. You get more resources to spend on towers as you kill enemies, just like other tower defense games, and just like in other games, you’ll have to play for aerial forces as well as ground troops. Most of the towers are the kind of standard fare you’d expect from a tower defense game, like things that shoot lightning and others that slow enemies down, so fans of the genre will feel right at home.

When you do deal with the enemies, the first-person shooter portion kicks in. Enemies don’t actually attack you, but having a few guns at your disposal — including a sniper rifle and an assault rifle — makes you a roving tower yourself. Sanctum’s smart teleporting system lets you get an overhead view of the action at any moment and teleport to one of several locations around the map, so you can always reorient yourself to do damage against bad guys in places where your defenses might be lacking.

Sanctum just added four-player cooperative play, and that seems like it’s the real way to play. Today you can pay $10 for Sanctum to get four copies of the game, which you can hand out to friends. And you’re going to want to do that, because playing the game with friends so that you can strategize, plan and execute your defense in a coordinated way is a lot more fun than running around Sanctum’s maps alone.

Other outlets have complained that while Sanctum is fun, it’s a little thin on content. That might be the case, but for $5, it’s too good a deal to pass up. Snag this one or spend $10 and get copies for some pals, because the cooperative experience of setting up defenses as if you were standing in the room is a great way to take on the genre.

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1 Comment on Daily Independent: Grab 3 Friends for FPS/Tower Defense in Sanctum

Brandon James Clark

On July 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Just picked this up today. It seems rather solid. Not sure why Metacritic’s aggregate is so low.