QPP Reviews Tower Wars
At the cusp of its release, the notion that Tower Wars would present a “new and unique spin on the genre of tower defense” seemed to be the tag line anywhere the game was mentioned. Combining a maze oriented strategy of tower defense, components typically associated with real-time strategy titles and a polished, cutesy steam-punk atheistic, the afore mentioned notion seemed a possibility. Alas, the largest detriment to Tower Wars’ goal was a lack of depth across the board.
Constructing defenses for your territory, utilizing the terrain to siphon incoming threats into a winding, haphazard maze walled by deadly towers, is - without a doubt - the most fun and well designed aspect of Tower Wars. Being a more simple take on the genre, there is not a lot of diversity to the defenses. This lends to an experience easier to grasp and more quickly enjoyed, and I did not find myself displeased with the defenses provided. From cross-bow and cannon towers for firing at foot soldiers as they pass to giant hammers, machines releasing molten pitch, and giant fans to slow the progress of would-be attackers - I was satisfied. Each of the towers is able to be individually upgraded, as can be your castle, offensive units and mines. Thus, as with the constant in-flux of funds, players are (for the first three quarters of the battle) constantly improving their fortifications and making their maze as insurmountable as possible.
Tower defense, however, is not the only facet of Tower Wars. When facing other players, the RTS elements of the game play a significant role; as offense and defense must be juggled to attain victory. However, the offensive end of Tower Wars does not lend the same enjoyment as its defense; and unlike the defensive side, I found myself quite disappointed with the lack of offensive options. Starting with the fodder class, Mr. Mopsey, players will unlock, with a few exceptions, one unit for various class types. One fast, one actually effective brute, one shilder, one healer, one carrier, one tank, with one or two extra classes along the way that serve as artificial variation. While keeping in line with the more simplistic approach, the lack of possible “play styles” lends to very little strategy on the real-time strategy end of the game. When playing ranked matches and with friends, I found players using and repeating one of essentially three strategies, and myself repeating one over and again - though I attempted each possible type of play, and all units. Rather than simple strategy, as was clearly the goal, each match became a competition between systems of formulaic repetition.
Tower Wars looks good. The polished world, units and towers all share a steam-punk theme that has a child-like, slightly Pixar gleam to it. The bombastic battle music keeps the game’s pace without interfering too much with the sounds of mechanical carnage. Tower Wars’ most displeasing attempt to set tone, though, is the “king” character. His cliche, neo-classical British gusto, while entertaining at first, got absolutely annoying after the first game.
All of Tower Wars’ systems rely on an economic system divided between gold and battle points to function. Gold is earned through the upgradable mines scattered across the territory and defeating incoming enemies. Battle points, on the other hand, are allotted based on how much damage the player’s own troops take on the battlefield. In most cases, battle points and gold are spent together to upgrade mines, units, and castles. Defensive towers, themselves, rely only on gold. The economy, thus, is the foundation for the game’s strategic lay-out, rather than the actual offensive and defensive play. The player earning and managing their gold and battle points most effectively ultimately will claim victory. As is the case with most games of this nature, however, the economy is moot by the end of a match. Having, by this point, gathered enough of each resource to simply launch wave after wave of troops - who will earn battle points in their trek; while fully upgraded mines provide more money than players can use, having fully upgraded most, if not all, of their forces.
Tower Wars is available here, as well as on Steam for ten dollars. Tower Wars is not a bad game, and for players desiring a tower defense experience married with some real time strategy game-play assets, it is worth playing - I just think there are other, better options available.
- Doug Comstock