Tower defence games. A few short years ago they were unheard of, but now they have flooded the App Store and indeed, many other platforms. A lot of this is down to the fact that they are a good fit for touch screens, but it is also because they are really good fun and allow you to dip into strategy games in a way that has perhaps never really been available.
The problem now is that there are so many options for potential purchasers of these games on iPhone and iPad, that it is difficult for new games to stand out. At least to this jaded reviewer, many of them all seem to blend into one in the memory, but I am happy to report that Human Defense isn’t one to be forgotten quite so easily, and is perhaps the best tower defense game I have played since Plants Vs Zombies. I don’t say things like that very often.
The reason for this is a healthy combination of tricky, frenzied and highly interactive gameplay, and a graphical style that is comical, beautifully animated and a breath of fresh air.
The game sees you attempting to rid different body organs of pathogens that are out to infect and destroy your patient. So starts what at first appears to be a standard, if attractive tower defence game, with you placing towers at certain points along a route that the enemy units march along. The different towers fire on the bad guys when they come close, some chipping away at their health while other slow them down and weaken them, all in aid of stopping the enemies from reaching their goal. If they do reach the end of the path, your health is reduced, and it is game over if your health gets to zero.
Human Defense soon starts to show its true colours, however. You can choose to branch paths off, making the pathogens go around for another pass, although you can only change each enemy’s route once, meaning that you are only really buying a little time. This is all complicated by the carbohydrates. These are effectively your currency for building and upgrading your towers, but they also run along the same path that the enemy units take, meaing that you are going to want them to go to different places, making the path switching more complex.
Complicating matters further is the fact that your carbohydrates can also be sent into the organ you are protecting to increase your health, which is somewhere you obviously don’t want the enemies ending up. Even the health system is tricky to master, as you get a bar that must be balanced, and kept in the green to increase health. Too many carbs going in will move the bar to the red on one side, but too few will move it too far the other way.
What all this means is that you will soon be switching routes and paths like a madman. If this all sounds really complex, fret not as the developers have done a stand up job of balancing all this out to make this a fun and fulfilling gameplay experience that is extremely addictive. The need to be constantly balancing everything is stressful, but fun, and perhaps the best thing is that the actual towers aren’t as all-important as they are in other games, but are just one part of your overall strategy for each level.
I really must mention the graphics, as they are outstanding. Everything is superbly animated, with bright and bold designs that give the game a genuine sense of character. It is gorgeous for a strategy title.
The main adventure mode will take between 4 and 5 hours to finish, and there is a neat ‘Emergency Mode’ to add a couple of extra hours, and the developer has included a cool ‘Lab’ that allows you to take a closer look at all the characters in the game and tells you some actual body facts, and there is Game Center integration to round things off. There are IAPs here, but only for bonus items, and nothing that is really needed to finish the game.
If I have any criticisms, it is that the game should really have a more thorough tutorial, as it does throw quite a lot at you to begin with that may make newcomers to the genre struggle, and I would have liked a few more levels in the main mode.
Overall though, this is a very strong title that feels like a step in the right direction for the tower defence genre, and one that I can heartily recommend as a good looking and quality game.
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