Steampunk Tower, the so-called “one tower defense game” developed by DreamGate Studios and published by Chillingo, is now available from the app store. Featuring a clever mechanic that allows for on-the-fly turret swapping within a centrally-located edifice, Steampunk Tower sees you fighting a battle on two fronts while micromanaging your defenses.
Steampunk Tower Pros:
- Neat twist on tower defense
- Polished graphics and great variety of weapons and enemies
- Great turret-swapping mechanic that keeps the gamer engaged
- Challenge levels with restrictive rules to test your skill
- GameCenter integration provides two dozen achievements to earn
Steampunk Tower Cons:
- Special weapons are over-powered and feel like a cheat
- Controls are easy to use, but don’t always act as expected
Whereas most tower defense games we’ve played have dealt with setting up a variety of defensive towers along a pathway in an effort to keep hordes of creeps from reaching an end point, Steampunk Tower sees the enemies converging upon a single central location: Lord Bingham’s Etherium mine. The drilling tower atop this mine is multi-leveled, allowing you to set up two weaponized turrets on each platform. The turrets will auto-fire upon any enemies that approach, while you only need to worry about reloading, upgrading, and re-positioning them in the most advantageous way. Machine guns, cannons, lightning guns, and saw launchers become available as you level up and make your way through the fifteen Campaign stages and seven Challenge stages. You use tower points earned from destroying enemies and completing levels to purchase access to upgrades and enhancements for both your turrets and your tower. There are even three overpowered weapons that you can use by cashing in Etherium that is earned at the conclusion of each stage.
Purchasing a turret requires you to tap the blue arrow at the bottom of the tower’s center column and tap the turret of choice. The lowest-level version of this turret will appear where the arrow was. You drag the turret into position, finding an empty platform to set it on. No turret is fixed in place, as you can shift left-side weapons to the right side and vice versa. For instance, you may want to load up the right side of the tower with machine guns if there are a bunch of paratroopers dropping out of the sky on the right side. You can shift your splash-damage cannons to the other side since they are ineffective against paratroopers. When a turret runs out of ammo, it will slowly reload. Alternatively, you can slide it into the center column where it will reload faster, but it will be unable to fire until returned to the perimeter platform. To upgrade a turret, you must return it to the center column’s bottom level, where you can tap the appropriate upgrade button or even sell the turret if need be. There aren’t a ton of waves to slog through, as bite-sized gaming seems to be the order of the day. If you do get overwhelmed, you can call upon one of the three high-powered weapons in the upper right corner. Unleashing an air strike, lightning wave, or The Eye will allow you to wipe out swaths of enemies in one go, though it can only be used sparingly and it sort of takes the fun out of the game due to the amount of damage it can cause.
Graphically, the game has a very polished and appealing presentation. The tower and enemies are silhouetted, while the turrets and backdrop feature plenty of color. Upgrading turrets does change their appearance, and a number of colorful indicators are utilized, too. A small blue carrot appears next to any turret capable of being upgraded (based upon its unlocked upgrade path and availability of funds), a tiny yellow reload icon indicates any tower that is currently reloading, and a yellow ammo bar shows how much firepower each turret has remaining. Unfortunately, the ammo bars are very close to the platforms and it’s difficult to distinguish the used portion from the background at times. Your tower health and funds are located in the upper left corner, while your level and wave indicators are positioned below the Special Weapon buttons in the upper right corner. The soundtrack has a jazzy, old-timey feel to it. While it might not have been what I expected for this type of game, it’s serviceable and doesn’t feel too out-of-place. The controls are simple to get a handle on, as you are just tapping on buttons and/or sliding turrets around. However, the sliding inputs often get confused, sending a turret down a level or two when we were simply trying to slide it to the center column on the same level. It was slightly annoying, but it didn’t have a detrimental effect on the gameplay overall.
Replay value is good, as you can always replay levels and earn additional money to unlock turret upgrades to the max, as well as earn gold towers for superior performance. The Challenge levels beating the level while imposing several restrictions to test your skill. GameCenter integration provides two dozen achievements to work toward, as well. A universal app for $0.99, Steampunk Tower is a fantastic new addition to the genre, earning a solid 4-Dimple score.
Steampunk Tower Review,