tl;dr -> Never has a tower-defence (TD) game made me rage so much at trying to 100% each level. 11/10 get my electronic groove fix.
I got this game gifted to me by a generous friend, and was very excited to try it because of the music, artstyle, and effects. I was extremely pleased with my experience.
If you like tower-defence games, managing multiple tasks rapidly (this is very, very important), electronic music, and fancy effects, then you will really like this game.
The aesthetics are very nice - the colors and backgrounds are alive with vivid color. The music is one of the most important elements in this game, and the tracklist is composed of very good electronic music. I strongly suggest you take a look at the trailer provided to get a feel for the music, or even search for the soundtrack on YouTube - the genre may not be to your liking. That being said, I absolutely love electronic dance music (EDM) and most subgenres related to it, so be aware of my personal bias in this regard. Note, the tracklist is more groovy, chillout electronic than the intense type typically played in clubs and on the radio - so don't expect buildups and drops.
I found the music to be wonderfully fit for creating a fun atmosphere despite that many times contrasts with how much task-switching you have to do during gameplay. As the beat progresses, a light flashes left-to-right across the level/background. If you have activated turrets, they will flash when the light passes over it, and the more turrets you have activated, the deeper/fuller/louder the music sounds. You will notice that the music will dull down whenever you have no powered turrets. The dynamic music (interacting with your turret placement) is done very well and has no effect on gameplay besides aesthetics.
The controls are simple - everything is done with the mouse - however, managing your actions/tasks is the most difficult part of the game. There is a very quick and helpful tutorial that begins right you start a new game, and the opening sequence is great. The learning curve is minimal to moderate depending on your familiarity with tower-defence games, but be warned - the game involves a lot of task-switching, so quick reflexes are essential if you want to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Gameplay involves you defending your core against waves of enemy viruses coming from different paths (numbered 1-x). There is a tracker that shows you what creeps are incoming, however, there is no real way of knowing what each virus does until you encounter them (no tooltips, no virus encyclopaedia, etc) and see for yourself. There are a variety of towers to use, each with different strengths. For example, there is a quick-firing beam that removes enemy shields, a slowing program, and an anti-worm (these are yellow non-circular viruses) program. Whenever you place a program there is a cooldown timer before you can place that specific program again. To counter this, a (quite expensive) cooldown reset ability can be purchased (refreshes all towers; must be bought each time you want to use it). There is also a free "manual aim" tower that can be placed, and I strongly suggest you place these whenever they are available to maximize your combat potential. To use the "manual aim" programs, you must click on them, then click and hold anywhere within their attack area. After a certain number of attacks (indicated by a bar underneath the tower), the program will disappear.
As you play, resource pickups will periodically drop from the top of the screen to a random part of the level - you need to click these to obtain the resources. Enemies will also sometimes drop smaller pickups, which are used to either upgrade your programs (up to a level of 2) or buy special items from your core. For example, you can buy a mine for 1 upgrade point, which allows you to place one-shot proximity mines; for 2 upgrade points, you can unlock a power generator program that supplies you with one power.
You start each level with a set number of power points needed to activate your programs. Whenever you build a new program/tower, it comes powered with 1 bar. You can use the mouse wheel to divert power to and away from your programs, and this is something that gets crazy as you progress deeper into the game. For example, you may have one tower with max power near the beginning of an enemy path, but once the creeps all make it past your program, you quickly cycle all the power out of that tower and divert it to your other programs further down the pathway. You must make these decisions in real-time, and it can get chaotic when a large amount of enemies are bearing down on your core.
There are gated checkpoints in the game that require you to beat a certain number of levels before you can proceed further. There is an icon given to you whenever you complete a level, as well as a second icon for achieving 100% (no damage to your core). I love tower-defence games and play a lot of them, so I give you all a warning: this is one of the most infuriating games to try to 100% (not necessarily a bad thing). It just takes one creep making it past you to ruin your run. Worse so are the bonus levels.
Aside from the main levels are bonus levels - which are scenarios that require you to use certain strategies. For example, one bonus level that took me ages involves you using the "manual aim" towers to soften up waves of enemies so your towers can finish them off. The catch? You have to make sure you attack each enemy the correct amount because you are given no resources to build more towers. There is another bonus level that taught me how to take advantage of programs and power (sometimes it is better to just buy a cheap program to get the extra power point) - you start off only able to build power stations, and the only available spots are at the bottom of the screen. To beat this stage, you must build power stations at the bottom, cycle power off, and divert it to the programs already supplied to you.
Overall, the game is a great staple of the genre, and anyone interested in electronic music, TD games, and being challenged should definitely give this a try.
DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews