Heading back in time in order to defend mankind’s future might sound a little odd at first. However, when two cosmic empires do battle, odd is the order of the day. So, lace up those boots, hop in your temporal cruiser, and let’s find out what The Last Day Defense brings to the virtual table.
Back in Time
The Last Day Defense is a VR tower defense game from ARVI LLC, the same folks behind CorssSide: The Prison. As mentioned above, two warring factions are in the middle of an ongoing conflict. In order to break the stalemate, one side has traveled to the past, in order to eliminate the other. Equipped with a replicator that can create awesome weapons, you are sent back to defend mankind from this attack.
This tower defense game is about as classic as they come. You choose a level, build towers, and try to keep enemy forces from getting to your ship. It is a concept that anyone can pick up and dive right into. However, the devil is in the details. Thankfully, you get a nice five levels of tutorials to help you learn everything you need to know. Boiled down, you kill enemies for points and use those points to build and kill more enemies.
You get nine levels to choose from, four turret types, 15 possible turret modifications, and enemies that are ready to fly, drive, and march all over you. You really don’t get any story in this game, aside from what you read on the Steam page. So, if your big on ingame narrative, this might not be for you. What you do get is a game that is easy to pick up, and hard as hell once the battle gets rolling.
You and Your Units
Most of the gameplay revolves around the player building and upgrading turrets. Each turret is clearly marked to indicate its proficiency at taking out troops, transports, tanks, or aircraft. It is up to you to find a balance across the table that can deal with waves of enemies before they reach your ship. If they do manage to break through your defense, your rank drops and your one step closer to game over.
One very noticeable feature here, is how the terrain plays a major role in how you defend. You can choose from medium, large, and extra-large levels, and each has multiple paths to defend and varying styles of terrain. If you place a turret that fires on a flat trajectory next to a hill, you’re going to reduces its effectiveness but also boost it defense. Place a mortar in the same place and you boost it defense while decreasing its effectiveness significantly less, as it fires up and over the hill.
Each enemy unit is capable of firing at your turrets and while your turrets do recover over time, a loss in defense for any amount of time is very noticeable. Luckily each turret has three upgrade options that alter its effectiveness. On top of that, each turret has three improvement slots that can increase shields, range, or damage. Overall, you have a ton of decision making to do and this game does great at punishing your lack of attention to detail.
Controlling the Action
The controls are fairly standard, with a simple drag and drop popup menu for the turrets. The only issue I encountered with this is when two turrets are close together. The game will sometimes bounce from one to the other when you try to select on option that pops up near the other node.
To move around, you hold down a button and drag yourself where you want to go. To rotate, you physically turn your body. While this does work, in the heat of battle it can become a pain in the ass with headset wires. I would love to have teleport points that orient me in a direction that reflects the nodes that the point is near. It would cut down on needless pulling and turning around a stationary table.
The table itself can be adjusted for height by grabbing an edge and lifting up or pushing down. This is great as you can play sitting or standing. The fights can be pretty lengthy, so having the ability to just sit on your floor and keep going is nice.
Sights and Sounds
The graphics are good at the lowest setting and beautiful at the highest. Zooming in on the action will reveal a high level of detail in the units and combat itself. Unfortunately, all the fighting does not have an impact on the terrain. No craters or burning trees here folks. That said, we do get a nice balance between graphics quality and performance. The game delivers a smooth experience, even when the table has a massive number of units in play, because I failed to kill them.
One area that this game shines in, would be the weapon effects. Watching a flamethrower poor down from a mountaintop is pretty sweet. You also great a great range readout for your turrets that helps with placement choice. Some areas that could use some love, are room the player is standing in and the information board. While functional, they are boring to look at and bring the overall quality of this graphics down.
The audio works for the style of game. You get lots of weapon sounds that are unique to the weapon type. You might also hear your ship zapping an enemy, wave starting, or an air raid siren that alerts you to incoming aircraft. Again, the environment could use a little more life to it, but what we do get works well.
Defending the Past
At the end of the day, this is a great tower defense game. It places the right amount of decision making on the player to keep them entertained. While I would love to get some ingame story, I am okay without it, as long as the combat is fun. The balance between enemy waves and resource generation does feel a little low at times, but not horribly so. I really would like to see that terrain get some more life in it, but again, this is just extra icing on an already delicious cake. The splash damage and burning weapons would have a much more gratifying effect if I could see their damage reflected in the terrain.
This is an Early Access game, and it does have room for improvement. Overall, for $19.99, I enjoyed the hell out of my time playing and found the content to be very challenging. I am going to recommend this to tower defense fans that want a new battle and are willing to give the developer input. Everyone else might just keep an eye out for the official launch down the road.