You sit atop your stronghold, anxiously gazing at the horizon, cracking your knuckles in the anticipation, yelling at the top of your lungs while you’re drilling your troops, frantically fortifying yourself with different towers against the imminent attack. And, just as you expected, you see the first signs of the enemy troops as they appear at the distance, trickling endlessly down the winding road like a river of molten lava, and just about as pleasant. But then, just as they’re coming in the range of your towers, you realize that hordes that are just about to knock on your door are in fact elves, dwarves, humans. Hmmm? The good guys? What are they doing here?
Yes, that’s right: Kingdom Rush Vengeance, the latest installment in the popular tower defense fantasy series for Android and iOS devices is a game which comes with a twist, not particularly revolutionary or original, but a twist nonetheless. Although it completely recycles the concept and familiar visual identity of its predecessors, this time around Kingdom Rush Vengeance places you in the role of the villain. Not that we haven’t witnessed the similar role reversals in the past (after all, Dungeon Keeper has taught us that it’s good to be bad and that heroes bleed profusely when you gut them with your claws, just like anyone else), but this simple turnaround proved to be more than enough to introduce a welcome freshness in the franchise.
As anyone who ever played any of the previous games in the Kingdom Rush series (or any tower defense game, for that matter) knows, its concept is extremely simple. There is a bunch of bloodthirsty enemies invading your territory, and your goal is to stop them. In order to do that, you have to strategically place a number of towers down the path of their attack and hope that they’ll be sufficient to stop them and turn them into gory mush. Easy-peasy, right? However, as in many other deceptively straightforward games, the devil is in the details, and you’ll have to dedicate much attention to balance your defenses against the upcoming attacks. That chiefly means that you’ll have to pay close attention to the way you’ll combine the towers in order to ensure the most effective defense.
For example, if you want to stop the enemy troops from swarming your base too quickly, you can combine basic archer towers with towers aimed to slow down the enemy, creating a tight funnel which will hopefully become a real death zone if you do everything right. At the beginning of each level, you’ll receive a certain amount of cash which you can use to establish your initial defenses. However, you won’t be able to base your entire defense on the resources you’ve got at the beginning. The only way you’ll earn the additional money is by killing your enemies, so you’ll quickly set up your preliminary defense, survive the first couple of waves (of which there are 15 in total on average), then build additional towers, kill some more enemies and so on and so forth. This type of level pattern forces you to be very efficient and to improvise on the move, adjusting your tactics after each successive attack. Of course, in the case that 16 different types of towers you’ll have available during the game prove insufficient, you’ll also have 9 mighty heroes at your command, in case you prefer to bash some self-righteous skulls up close and personal. Your heroes aren’t just endowed with strong basic attacks, they also have different sets of special abilities, you just have to wait a certain cool-down period before you can activate them again.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of tower defense games, so a franchise belonging to this genre which intends to survive and beat its competition has to stand out from the crowd. Kingdom Rush is one of tower defense series with admirable longevity which had succeeded to make it through tough times and create a memorable impression on fans of this genre thanks to its simple yet addictive gameplay, quirky design and uber-cute visuals which is something that developer Ironhide Game Studio is especially famous for. All in all, Kingdom Rush Vengeance is an extremely charming and engaging game, with a nice twist that puts you in a role of a villain (think of it as a Dungeon Keeper of the Tower defense world) and satisfying and challenging gameplay which will let you litter the approaches to your base with the mangled corpses of your holier-than-thou enemies. What more could you wish from a humble tower defense game?