Anomaly Defenders Review

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Posted June 5, 2014 by John Clark in Nerdy Bits

This hasn’t been an easy level. The quickest path to the ship that I have to protect is a simple, straight line, and if I don’t find some way to slow down the human forces, they’ll destroy it before I ever have a chance to take them all down. I build a Harvester and some towers on the western side; the resource-gathering structure is irresistible to my foes, and sure enough, they divert off the main path and head for it, getting caught in the crossfire and torn to pieces. Just when I think I’ve got things under control, though, the next group damages the Harvester, forcing it to shut down, and I don’t have the energy to repair it. No longer lured by my bait, the wave after that ignores my trap and heads straight for my ship, forcing me to improvise with few resources. Welcome to Anomaly Defenders, the newest Tower Defense game from 11 Bit Studios.

A more familiar foray into the Tower Defense genre than the studio’s previous Anomaly titles, Defender tasks players with protecting a ship that is preparing to launch from human invaders. Across twenty-four science fiction-themed levels, players construct towers to defend their ship and ‘harvester’ buildings that provide extra resources while also drawing the aggression (and therefore manipulating the pathing) of enemies. There’s also a degree of customization provided by the Tech system, which allows the use of points earned by beating levels to unlock new towers, upgrades, and abilities that can be employed in the game. Unfortunately, this feels a bit hamstrung by the fact that most abilities can only be locked past a certain level, forcing most players along the same paths.

 

The game can be played out in real-time, or paused at any point.

The game can be played out in real-time, or paused at any point.

It might be for the best, though; in a fairly glutted market, what sets Anomaly Defenders apart is its pristinely tuned challenge, which freeform upgrading could possibly have broken. Unlike in some Tower Defense games, the enemies in Defenders attack your towers as they pass; on normal and hard difficulty, they can cripple your strategy by wiping out half of your constructs in a single round. Energy gained from killing enemies can be used to repair damaged towers or use their special abilities, such as shields that reduce damage and attract the fire of enemies and a ‘berserk’ mode that increases their damage. You’ll need to make use of these, too; as the game progresses, foes will attack with lethal efficiency, and you’ll have to pull out every trick in the book to succeed. The final stretch of the ten hour or so campaign had me desperately struggling to keep up, making heavy use of the game’s tactical pausing feature to upgrade and replace damaged towers.

The difficulty of the game, and the polish with which the fairly simple mechanics are delivered, are most of the appeal behind Anomaly Defenders. Beyond that, there isn’t much here that provides anything new to veterans of Tower Defense games, and it won’t convert those who find the genre stale or unattractive. For ten dollars, though, it’s a well-executed, fairly long game that does a lot of things right.


About the Author

John Clark