Nuclear war has left the world ravaged, plagued by horrific mutants and the undead. It is the year 2022, and as part of the Brotherhood, you must defend humanity against the scourge – tower defense style.
Title: Grave Defense | Developer: Art of Bytes | Genre: Strategy, Action |
Players: 1 | Version: 1.3.0 | Size: 6.4MB | Price: $1.71
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You’ve likely played tower defense games before – mostly involving wee-little robots, shrimp, bad graphics, and highly-predictable pathing – but if you want a real test of your abilities, give Grave Defense a whirl. A combination of highly-polished background art, varied entry/exit-paths, and frustratingly difficult (yet addicting) gameplay make this defense game stand-out from the pack.
The formula of tower-defense games is well known in the mobile gamer community – enemies come at you in waves, starting in one corner and leaving in the other, following a single winding path the entire way. Your job is to plop-down turrets and keep them upgraded in order to prevent any of the baddies from reaching the end. Should some monsters get-through, you’ll quickly find your life dwindling to zero.
Grave Defense tweaks the standard tower-defense formula, for better or worse, by allowing multiple paths for the waves to follow; one wave may start in the upper-left and leave at the lower-left, and the next may start in the lower-right and end in the upper-left. While this new dynamic offers varied gameplay, it can get awfully frustrating since you don’t really know where to build your turrets. During the first couple waves of a level, when cash is tight, mis-placing a turret or two may just leave you with no choice but to restart. After a few tries, however, you’ll get a good idea of where to concentrate your turrets, and what areas you can leave alone for a while. I find that this new twist, while more difficult, forces you to strategize turret-placement much more than a typical 1-way tower defense game. You’ll need to look at your turret coverage radius and find choke-points where, regardless of where the baddies come from, they’ll likely stumble-through.
Set in the year 2022, during the aftermath of a global nuclear war, you’ll be fending-off wave upon wave of creepy, mutated… things. Weapons at your disposal are of the military-variety, and include mini-guns, vulcan cannons, rocket launchers, freezers, Tesla coils, and harpoons. Each turret can be upgraded a handful of times for maximum effectiveness, but choose your turrets wisely as you’ll need to fight ground as well as air-based mobs! If you’ve packed your map full of ground-only weaponry, you’ll be SOL once those weird bat-things come cruising-by.
Upgrades, while an integral part of every tower-defense game, are a little too numerous in Grave Defense. Getting a turret upgraded to maximum power requires upgrading over and over and over again… which is time-consuming and distracting, given everything else requiring your attention. What’s more, the game doesn’t even extend a little courtesy by pausing while you mull-over turret statistics! In a game with so many options and dynamics as this, an auto-pause would have been very, very helpful.
In addition to placing and upgrading turrets, you’ll encounter one-use drops from random mobs. You must tap the drop quickly, or else it’ll vanish before your very-eyes! Annoying, really, since a drop seems to last only a fraction of a second – way too fast, in my opinion. You’ll find the typical cash and health drops, both which barely nudge you ahead ($2 is almost not even worth the effort), as well as pulsing land-mines and explosives. The speed at which these drops vanish, coupled with the meager rewards (cash and health) really make it hard to justify distracting yourself to get them.
Finally, you’ll encounter a “boss” monster here and there that’ll really give you a run for your money. I’ve tried to kill Dracula (level 4) several times now, and lost miserably without fail. As if fending-off fourteen waves of creeps isn’t enough trouble, lose to Dracula and you’ll end up restarting the entire level all over again. Did I mention that this game was hard? and I’ve only been playing on Easy. Frustrating? Yes. But it’s terribly addicting.
Tap tap tap. Tap to buy turrets, tap to fast-forward, tap to upgrade, and tap to pick up the lame drops. One thing that this game doesn’t let you tap are mobs, in order to focus your fire! I couldn’t believe this feature was left-out, but there you have it. You can’t select a mob to assign priority. Bummer. You can also swipe the screen from side-to-side to scroll the map, but (on my Evo, at least) you’ll only discover a small sliver of hidden space.
The maps are absolutely gorgeous, if not a bit too cluttered. The mobs and turrets blend-in a little too much, but you get used to it. As you slay hordes upon hordes of creeps, the paths start to become covered in green goo – a fun little effect. Gun-barrels flash, Tesla coils sparkle, and freezers… well, freeze. Mobs, on the other hand, could use an overhaul. Creatures seem fairly basic in contrast with the pretty maps, and warrant a bit more polish; especially the plain-Jane health bars.
Sound and music in Grave Defense is a bit lacking. Background music sounds tinny, and some creeps squeak like a mouse when you kill them – a strange sound to hear escaping from a mutant-anything.
The Options menu allows you to toggle the music and sounds, enable a grid-overlay on the map (why?), and toggle “Big view” – a feature which scales the purchase/upgrade overlay for bigger screens. There is a High Scores leader board (requires data connection), News panel (for updates and review links), and Community (message board). And what’s more, if you get tired of the campaign, you can jump into a game of Survival, pitting you against wave upon wave of creeps until you just can’t take it anymore.
Grave Defense is, by far, the most pretty and challenging tower-defense game that I’ve played to-date. It’s hard. Really hard. Even on Easy. But you’ll find yourself hooked in no time, laying waste to creeps left and right with your giant gun-turrets of doom! While there are some serious annoyances – no pause during purchase/upgrade, lame cash and health drops, no ability to focus-fire on a mob, tinny music and sound, and no vibration if you take a hit – I still have to give it 4 stars. But beware, this game will suck your battery dry! Definitely worth your money, all 14 levels of it.