When I was younger, I had infinite patience. No matter how hard the game, no matter how broken its mechanics, no matter how many other options for fun were available to me, I didn’t quit until I’d beaten every boss, bought every item and seen every last inch of the map. My childhood self would have loved the endless challenge of Interstellar Defence Troops, the first title from fledgeling indie developer Winter Rain Games and the latest in a long line of innovative explorations of the tower defence genre.
Set against the gorgeous backdrops of endless star fields, vast planets and dotted with asteroids, IDT presents yet another twist on tower defence, this time forcing you to expect and prepare for attacks from all sides at once. Enemy ships converge on your mining drones and fragile space stations at a measured but relentless pace. Rather than focus on pathing and ensuring no creeps can get around you, your attention is required to plug holes in your perimeter and effectively stack turrets to get the most out of every barrage.
Taking influence from popular real-time strategy titles, IDT fills the time and mental agility usually required for setting up routes with your towers by introducing a resource gathering and management mechanic. By sending out drones to mine nearby asteroid, you’re able to build up an economy and come up with more creative strategies as the cash starts to flow. It’s a careful balancing act, however, as mining drones are entirely defenceless, meaning you’ll need to stretch any fortifications to take care of them as well.
While Interstellar Defence Troops is built on a solid framework and showcases enough graphical flair to make it stand out from the crowd, progression and narrative are somewhat lacking.
The three game modes offer an endless survival scenario that tests your ability to survive against ever widening odds, a more strategic mode allowing you as much time as you want to set your towers before activating the next wave of enemies and a final Rush mode that pits you against the game’s toughest foes. Each mode allows for a range of difficulty levels but, ultimately, you’re always fighting a losing battle, holding out until your resources run dry and you succumb to overwhelming and endless attacks. A way of winning beyond breaking records with your score would have been most welcome as it feels unfinished without anything to tie your objective to a solid cause.
That’s not to say that you should overlook this indie gem. A lot of love and attention to detail has been put into ensuring the UI and overall design flows and the presentation practically oozes polish. Interstellar Defence Troops is more a game with which to pass the time rather than spend hours engrossed in its intricacies but it does its job perfectly and adds another refreshing style to a genre that’s still able to surprise us as it continues to grow.
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