Alright, yes. The tower defense genre is flooded. Radiant Defense still deserves an honorable mention in the crowded field. The game, from the creators of Radiant HD, continues the neon-colored universe's traditions of quirky humor and colorful enemies. Curiously, though, it does not follow the previous game's 8-bit homage tradition. Still, we think it adds enough to the genre to be worth your time.
What's Different About This Tower Defense Game?
Left: Unmodified path; Right: Plenty of time to kill some aliens
If this game were exactly like all the others, it wouldn't be worth a mention. Radiant Defense feels a bit more like a grown-ups tower defense game, though. For starters, at the beginning of each round, you're given the option to place "modules" to modify the path enemies must travel down. After the first couple of training levels, it becomes apparent just how much entirely different paths can affect gameplay. It's a simple mechanic, but it can drastically affect how well you perform against a stream of enemies.
Also, unlike most other tower defense games, you're given a break between waves to build up your defense. This is almost necessary due to the other big difference that makes this game more challenging: you are given all of your weapons at once and need most of them. It can be overwhelming at first, but the game has plenty of tooltips and info on your various weapons.
If this is your first tower defense game, it might be a bit too much information. I liken the experience to the first time playing a major MMO: there's a ton of information here and you can't possibly know the best ways to use all your abilities to your advantage right off the bat, but there are plenty of ways to explore and that actually adds to the fun a bit. Throwing turrets at the wall and seeing what blows up.
Oysters, Losers, And Natural Selection
This game is funny. If there is nothing else this game has going for it over the other games in this genre, this game is hilarious. The awkwardly phrased, absurd, bickering humor style of the previous Radiant game is still here and still gets laughs. As before, new items and concepts are introduced intermixed into humorous conversations, to keep the game entertaining. We won't ruin all the fun for you,but here's a few samples:
Those Nasty In-App Purchases
It seems that all games, these days, have some form of money-grubbing shenanigans to go along with them. Radiant Defense's in-app purchases are, thankfully, not that bad. I managed to play through several levels of the game and only felt constrained by the default options once. Even then, it was against a new type of enemy, so my struggle could just as easily be attributed to my own learning curve. The important thing is that I never felt like I was having genuine difficulty with the game because I hadn't purchased any extra items. So, for those of you who don't want your money, feel free to
send me some buy some upgrades, but it doesn't seem necessary to the gameplay. It would be a nice way to support the developer, though, until a paid version comes out.
So, Should You Try It?
Sure! If you're not completely sick of tower defense games (and honestly, it would be hard to blame you), this one offers plenty of challenges to even seasoned veterans of the genre. It's not a complete rework, but the essence of tower defense games is combat-related puzzles, and this one is one of the more complex ones we've seen.
All that being said, though, developers? Can we have a talk? It's nice that you guys have so many good ideas for this genre. I've played a half-dozen different games like this in the last month and they all manage to have some quirk or feature that makes them interesting. On the whole, however, we wouldn't hate it if any developers currently planning their next big game chose something other than a tower defense game. They're not bad games, but there sure are an awful lot of them.