Indie Quickie: Defense Technica

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? 1,000 years in the future, Earth is under siege by a neighboring civilization of aliens. This game lets you use a wide range of weaponized towers to defend humanity against the biomechanical bastards.

Who made it and where can you get it? Defense Technica comes from South Korea-based Kuno Interactive, with publishing help from Devolver Digital. Download it now from Steam on PC/Mac for $14.99. (A mobile adaptation for iOS and Android also is available from Com2uS.)

How much did we play? I successfully completed 10 missions within two hours of play time, before revisiting a couple earlier stages to improve my final score and earn some extra medals.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? No bumps in the road to report here. I will suggest digging into the “How to Play” menu before diving in, though, as information about towers, enemies, and certain mechanics isn’t very well explained with in-game tutorials.

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Why should you play it?

    • Hey, it’s a New Tower Defense Game: And a damn good one, I might add. Defense Technica could easily be mistaken for a successor to Defense Grid, as its UI, controls and overall sci-fi theme look and function almost exactly the same–but it’s not. I am actually kind of liking this game more right now to be honest. While the game might not be the most original or ambitious in the crowded galaxy of the tower defense genre, the design is rock solid. Everything a tower defense game needs, this game has. The maps are impressively large–often featuring multiple enemy entry points–and layered with tactical complexities, first and foremost the ability to alter the pathing by placing towers in advantageous positions which will create barriers and force creeps to take a longer route on their march to attack your precious core. I’ve been incredibly happy with the turret AI as well; they always seem to pinpoint the enemies I want them to and change targets at the appropriate time to properly maintain crowd control. Using an Xbox 360 gamepad, placing turrets and navigating the map is effortless thanks to intuitive analog stick cursor and camera control. With the bumpers, you can increase the camera scrolling speed to pan across the map more quickly, as well as overall game speed to fast-forward between waves and keep the pace going when you’re confident in your defensive strategy. A higher level of camera zoom or maybe even a mini-map would be welcome future additions to help maintain constant visibility of the large maps, but the existing edge-of-screen indicators do enough to provide awareness of which area of the map incoming waves are coming from.

    • Climate Change: One interesting dynamic Defense Technica brings to the table, is changing weather conditions. For example, during certain missions passing cloud cover will reduce the range of surface-to-air turrets. At other times you may have to contend with electrical storms that will lower the effectiveness of other tower types. The weather system could be deeper and more prevalent, as only a few different forms of inclement weather can arise and so far such events haven’t been very frequent. But when the climate does change, it forces you into situations where you may need to adjust tower layout on the fly. According to the in-game documentation, eventually the maps themselves will even begin to transform mid-mission. I haven’t seen this effect in action just yet, but it is one more subtle layer of strategy to prepare for as the game progresses.

    • Upgrades Galore: I’m not far enough along to fully explore the intricacies of the upgrade system, but in visiting the unlock menu to research a couple early upgrades I certainly took notice of the extensive upgrade trees. Each tower can be upgraded to potentially six different forms. With eight base class types (well, seven plus a simple barricade), that amounts to more than 40 possible towers. Early on I have been able to turn my submachine guns into full machine guns, and my melee stabbers into electro stabbers. After that, the tech trees split and machine guns can turn into Vulcan cannons or Pulsar blasters, and those stabbers can become giant hammer-wielding mechs named after the great God of Thunder, Thor, or Tentacloids armed with four steel tentacles. Each upgrade increases certain attributes (damage, rate of fire, etc) as well as its strengths against different types of enemies. Fortunately, there is an option to re-spec should you need/want to change paths or readjust which turrets to upgrade for the battle ahead. But before you can even begin to upgrade your tower arsenal, you’ll need to become a master of defensive strategy. Medals are used as the currency to purchase upgrades, and these medals are only earned by performing well in missions. (Completing a map without letting any enemies reach the core unlocks all medals.) This increases the incentive to revisit past maps to improve past rankings and pick up some extra medals so you can buy more upgrades.

Parting Thoughts: There really isn’t much else to say. Defense Technica doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, nor does it have any one single distinguishing characteristic to point to. Enemies come marching onto the screen to attack the core. You plop down towers to stop them. Nothing’s changed. But what the game lacks in originality it makes up for with well thought out mechanics, impressive map design, sharp visuals, and fun tactical gameplay. If you aren’t concerned about how innovative games are and you just want a new game to scratch your tower defense itch, Defense Technica should suit you just fine.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!