Editor’s Note: This story was created for the Humble Indie Bundle’s v1.72, until it got burrowed under more pressing issues. A new v1.80 has just been released that promises a lot of changes to this formula. We will update you once we get around to playing the newer version.
If there’s one thing that indie developers do a lot, it’s stealing an idea from someone else and giving it a spin (or not). As such, there’s a spawn of Tower Defense (TD) games that follow a steady and true formula. If you’re still under a rock somewhere and don’t know what TD is, consider it a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game, based on defensive maneuvers. You build up your base defense and watch as the enemies come flocking to destroy you. So, most of the fun goes into planning a solid barrier and hoping for the best.
Revenge Of The Titans (ROTT) is one of those borrowed idea games, but at least it’s bent on taking the spin aspect pretty far. The goal is still the same of building a frontier to fend off attackers, but there’s a lot of new implementations. For instance, your funds have to be collected from crystals while playing and everything is set to manual mode in the beginning. Collecting and even reloading needs to be done by hand, which keeps you busy during the second act of gameplay, based solely on defense. This gets hectic to say the least and playing a heated battle can sometimes grow into a frustrating click-war, so it’s not all for the better.
Additionally, you can research new advancements before every round starts, which can aid you either strengthen your base or help you with the insane workload during attacks. But there are also in-game power-ups to be found, that randomly appear on the map. With these you can blast a large amount of foes or strengthen your defenses; but most of all you can save your funds for much needed research.
Presented in a form of two-tone pixel art, ROTT adds a lot of slight lighting and radar visuals to create their war-room playing field. It’s basic and yet it’s not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the game is low maintenance and with no adjustable video options, you’ll either run it or be doomed. It doesn’t make the game really all that accessible, but then again, neither does the challenging gameplay, so the basic point is that looks can be deceiving.
The sound ranges from smaller explosions to huge war cries, but also implement the annoying war room alarm noises and such, when danger is upon you. While it is more realistic this way and the sounds are very fitting to the game, with slight radar touches here and there, the alarm noises can be both overwhelming and irritating. This is especially true when the threat is highest and you should concentrate on making it out alive. You can debate it’s realistic, but in a real battlefield I’d also think you wouldn’t want to create additional stress in a death defying situation.
The campaign and other modes play themselves out in a fairly straight forward way expected from these games. You set up camp, wait for the monsters and adjust if possible or needed. It’s also here that all the alterations such as manual labor make the game shine out more, as usually just waiting for monsters and praying is rather boring. In ROTT you’ll be busy every second of the round, whether you’re collecting funds, building factories or reloading; there’s always something to do.
In addition, the computer intelligence (AI) in ROTT is one of the better ones I’ve seen so far. Not only do they not simply storm your castle in mass, but every round they’ll observe your tactic, grin at you and then completely adjust their plan of attack. Each round, whenever I thought I had their pattern down and thought they’d simply speed on down the road, I let my guards down just long enough to find a breach on a different side. They really take a large advantage of any flaw in your setup, which makes the game even more challenging.
Unfortunately this intellect again is on the verge between clever implementation and elusive gameplay. On top of that your funds are limited and critical to the next round of play; so if you build too many blasters in one round, you’ll be out of money the next. As these are also necessary for much needed research, you’ll have to resort to limited options in this tightrope walk. It’s admirable that ROTT tries so many novel approaches, but the bad does seem to outweigh the good. Perhaps one or two leniencies would’ve been in order here; just slight ones, so you don’t get raped each time. I know, the sole purpose of the game is to try and kill you, but did they have to be so damn obvious about it?
A video preview can be found here.
When it boils down to it Revenge Of The Titans is a game you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I hate it for I find no joy in an everlasting hectic struggle that infuriates me every step of the way, only to gratify me in the very end. But you have people who like a challenge and even more tactical experts who’ll only struggle in the very basic beginning of the game campaign. Those people can also take on 2 different modes, with Survival and Endless, offering you slight twists of the same subject. But the bottom line is: Yes, it’s an original RTS spin and no, it’s nothing special.