26 Feb

Colony Defense is an independently developed game by Mana Bomb Game Studio. Colony Defense is a tower defense (TD) game with an added twist; the third dimension. Now this is nothing new mind you, the hit iPhone game Star Defense also did this, with great success. While subtle differences are present, the two games are really the same basic concept with the same basic gameplay, for better or worse .

In Colony Defense, you have to defend different colonies on different planets from an invading alien force. As the invaders land on your planet they will true to the TD tradition follow a set path to your colony. While some TD games allow players to dictate the “creeps” path by building mazes out of towers, this one sticks with the more traditional approach and has you building towers around the set path to stop the invaders.

The planet progression pyramid.

As all the levels are planets all of them are spherical, making for an interesting visual twist. However, to me it didn’t really add anything to the gameplay experience; you’re still doing the same thing you would in any TD game. Only here that 2D playing field is wrapped around a 3D sphere. The enemies themselves are fairly common; you’ve got ground and flying units, with some towers being effective against different enemy types.  The towers all have their own special attack types, with different slowing, area of effect, damage and rate of fire, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. You’ve also got booster towers that increase the effectiveness of all nearby towers. All towers can be upgraded multiple times; each upgrade results in a significant statistic and visual upgrade.

In addition to the towers, you also have the last minute solution of the orbital cannon that fires instant kill shots from orbit, it has a significant cooldown period. However, using it for anything other than the odd stray here and there isn’t an option. This all amounts to a fairly decent gameplay experience. It can get a little challenging in later stages when you have to defend a handful or more of colonies at once with branching/crossing paths being all over the planet’s surface. All in all the gameplay is fun, though a little derivative.

Colony Defense is an indie game made by two people, so I wanted to avoid as much as possible talking about the presentation, because let’s be honest; it’s excusable.

The particle effects are also poor at best.

In short, it’s pretty bad. The planet surfaces are bland, uninteresting and of painfully low texture resolution. This makes them look blurry at a distance and pixilated up close. The tower and enemy design isn’t quite as bad. It certainly seems like more work has gone into their design. While not terrible, there just is nothing special. TD games have a history of producing really interesting looking towers as well as enemies. These just look like they’re lifted right out of other games or possibly Star Wars.

Sound design is barely present. Placing a tower makes a sound, shooting an enemy makes a sound, and an enemy blowing up makes a sound…that’s about it. The background music is well made but encompasses the very definition of generic. You will never catch anyone humming the melody of these songs.

But that aside, the game is decent…really. Okay perhaps Star Defense on iPhone is vastly better, but you can’t get that on Xbox 360 and PC for $10. And therein lies the main problemthis game is $10. While I’m sure that to the creators $10 seems like a small fee to pay for something they must have spent quite some time making, it’s just not worth it. This game is not one sixth of a $60 game; It’s not even one twelfth. Star Defense on the iPhone is basically the same game with better visuals and sound design, and that only costs $1. The boys at Mana Bomb have potential. Next time they just have to aim a little higher, and price a little lower.