While tower defence games are commonplace on iOS devices, many fall into the trap of adding an increasing amount of unnecessary features and gimmicks to the point of becoming cumbersome and downright convoluted to play. Thankfully German based developers Immanitas Entertainment (Frozen Hearth, Shadows on the Vatican) have taken the genre back to its roots and proven the old adage true; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with their new release of Tabletop Defence.
The concept, for those unfamiliar with the genre, is incredibly simple. Enemies move via a predetermined path, from one side of the map to the other, and it’s down to the player to place a series of defensive “towers” to prevent them from reaching their goal. In the military-themed Tabletop Defence, towers range from the rapid-firing heavy guns and hard-hitting cannons to the wide range artillery and air-shredding flaks. Each one can be placed, upgraded (of which there are three levels) and sold on a whim as you try to adapt and modify your defensive layout to deal with the increasing enemy ranks.
Whereas early levels pit you against the standard trucks and jeeps, later stages soon introduce armoured tanks and swooping biplanes. With a total of seven varied enemy types (with each having a further three sub-divisions), selecting then placing the most efficient network of defensive towers can be as much a puzzle as it is action. On more than one occasion I had to restart the map to rethink my strategy but once you get it right, once you find that perfect combination of towers that cut down all to shreds, oh boy does it feel good.
What struck me from the onset are the distinct, toy box style visuals, which are used to good effect in turning an otherwise scarred warzone into something akin to a little child’s bedroom floor. Trees appear to be made of paper, the landscape cardboard and the vehicles more Micro Machines than grit and dirt. This brings a certain amount of charm often lacking amongst the usual science-fiction shooters or fantasy affairs, that you can fully zoom in until you’re looking down the barrel of a gun further adds to the feeling of being a child leaning in close to play with his action figures.
Like I said at the start, Tabletop Defence omits the usual bells and whistles that seem to distract other games of the genre but at the same time, this bare bones approach could well put off some gamers who like the extra polish. Perhaps, in a future update, Immanitas Entertainment could add a wider range of maps as even with 24 varieties on offer they still start feeling a little similar towards the end. I’d also like to see more in the way of unit statistics, armour points and tower attack values, especially when deciding to spend money upgrading them or not.
That said the lack of these features is hardly game breaking. Tabletop Defence is a fun, simple and most important of all, accessible game without requiring excessive micro management or pointless multitasking. For those looking for a return to the genre roots, this title is certainly worth looking into.