SuperVillain Studios has largely been known for some truly creative endeavors, Fat Princess and Order Up chief among them. So I was a little confused when I first jumped into Tower Wars, their latest indie endeavor. There aren’t a lot of fancy bells and whistles to be found here.
Tower Wars is a far more straightforward affair, leaning more towards pure tower defense. However, the mechanics are pulled off very well and Tower Wars winds up being an entertaining experience, especially with other people.
Tower Wars pits two teams against one another in a game of tower defense with a slight wrinkle — each team sends out their own waves of upgradeable soldiers, which tosses in elements of real-time strategy. The whole thing takes on a hex tile playing field, where players can build defensive towers of outrageous weaponry to create a labyrinth of destruction. Troop paths are illustrated with a colored line on the playing field. The game continues until one side’s castle has fallen.
In many ways, it plays like a traditional tower defense game, but the pace starts to intensify as the game progresses. What starts off a simple idea of laying down traps becomes a mind-bending resource management exercise. As players acquire money over time, they have to think about everything they can do with that money. Building more towers is always an option, but they quickly become less effective against beefed-up soldiers. Upgrading towers is great, but money doesn’t grow on trees. Building up nearby mines can lead to a bigger revenue stream, but what about those soldiers that are suddenly storming the castle? The castle itself can be upgraded, but what about the opposing castle? That would mean upgrading your own soldiers by adding new units. The number of directions players can take are many, leading to plenty of variances in one-on-one gameplay.
Where Tower Wars truly shines is through 2-v-2 and 3-v-3 gameplay. Each players is given their own castle and resources and, since there are so many tasks and resources to manage, teams need to work together to determine who manages which task. For example, one player can manage offensive units while another focuses on laying down defensive towers. These games become highly competitive, meaning that cohesive teams will get the most out of the Tower Wars experience.
There’s one shortfall with the online lobbies and that’s that players cannot jump into unranked quickplay matches. Unranked matches only offer the options to host games and invite friends, but players cannot jump in with random players unless it’s a ranked match. Jumping in with AFK’s or inexperienced teammates can be costly to a player’s ranking and it’s likely preferable to take a chance on random people in an unranked setting.
The icing on the Tower Wars cake is a whimsical cartoonish presentation, taking players to an old-world setting. The defensive towers are vividly animated, sending soldiers to a comical demise. The Steampunk environment fits the weaponry and gameplay style like a glove. My only complaint here is that the game’s three maps don’t take enough advantage of the art style, offering a day map, a night map, and an ice map. The lack of map variety hurts the game somewhat.
Those that would rather focus on the tower defense aspect of Tower Wars without managing any of the offensive units can play a number of Challenge maps, which eschews the offensive element of the game in favor of pure defense. It’s a nice way to train for part of the multiplayer element, but this single-player mode quickly gets dull and will have you scrambling back to the main Tower Wars game mode.
Those looking for more resource management in their tower defense game will enjoy Tower Wars. It’s easy to learn and a lot of fun once other players come along for the ride.
Tower Wars is available now on PC through Steam for $9.99.
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