Defense Technica Review: Tweaking Tower Defense

Tower defense games, are, without a doubt, one of the most prolific forms of entertainment on the web — or at least they were during the days before cat videos on YouTube.

Now the genre seems to have almost broken off into its own subcategory, finding new life in titles like Defense Grid and in freemium games on mobile. Defense Technica, for example, is a port of a popular Android game by the same name. In the transition from mobile to PC, it has picked up quite a few changes, which are almost exclusively for the better, and they collectively make it one of the best tower defense games in… a long time.

With excellent gameplay balance, high production values, tough challenges and a sprinkling of RPG progression, Defense Technica justifies its cost even amidst a sea of free games in the genre.

Defense Technica
Platform: PC
Developer: Kuno Interactive
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: Oct. 24, 2013
MSRP: $14.99
Available: Steam

Like virtually all TD games (except maybe Defense Grid), Technica’s story is almost completely forgettable. There’s a cool voice-over that will narrate basic gameplay status, saying things like “core under attack,” but beyond that, the plot could be ripped out of just about any pulp sci-fi comic from the 1950s and it wouldn’t matter one bit. Thankfully, while definitely a throw-away, the plot isn’t overwrought, and DT never tries to bludgeon you with it by way of excessive cutscenes or long, drawn-out dialogue. Instead, it simply opens with a bombastic score and a Star Wars-style exposition dump before sending you on your way.

Along that path, you’ll run into pretty much all of the main characteristics we’ve come to expect from tower defense. You act as a commander, placing and upgrading towers to defend your “base” from attack. There are different kinds of enemies, each vulnerable to a different tower or combination of towers. Some turrets can only attack ground enemies, while others can only attack flyers. In each level, you’ll face a set number of waves of baddies that get progressively harder with time. Resources are limited, and while successful enemy kill will net you some cash, unlike most TD games, you have to drag your mouse over it to collect. This is the biggest departure from the genre, which tends toward auto-magically depositing the spoils of war into your coffers. That small change can have some huge effects, though.

Later in the game, you’ll face multiple lanes of enemies. Using the WASD or arrow keys, you’ll have to rapidly maneuver around the map, collecting currency and continually building towers. If you’re not fast enough, the resources fade and then eventually disappear — leaving you without the cash needed to keep up your defense. On larger maps, this ramps up the tension and sticks you with two potential options for how to lay out your towers: you can spread them out to focus fire on each group and prevent overloading the turrets with too many enemies, all the while risking the loss of resources by not collecting them fast enough; or, you could attempt to build barricades and other towers, funneling your foes into choke points that are easier to manage. While this might sound like an attractive option, often Defense Technica will throw far too many enemies at you for you to reasonably kill them all before they pass by.

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