Tower Defence games has to offer out something new to make them stand out these days. Bugvasion TD has some excellent theming and some solid core mechanics whilst trying to innovate in small steps by making the player feel more actively involved in the game.
You see, Bugvasion TD gives you eight towers that are relatively standard to place on various points in a level to attack bugs in your micro machine styled levels. Each level is a room in your house. The bugs attack, following predicted lines from multiple start points and so you need to be careful what you place where. You buy towers with coins and gain them by killing more bugs. As you play through the game, you earn tech points to upgrade your towers or unlock new ones, which again costs coins in game to up unlock. So far, so standard.
Where Bugvasion TD switches things up is that half of the towers require ammo restocking. This comes at coin cost too and you’ll be diving between multiple towers restocking ammo and draining your bank balance. This is crucial early on in each level when money is tight. It forces you to decide on building a new tower or restocking an old one that may conk out mid wave and ruin your run. This active management comes into power ups too. You unlock eight attacks, which also cost coins and have a cool down too. These let you stamp or punch bugs, send a flaming boulder down a path or electrocute them. Often in tower defence games, you can get by without needing to use these often but not so here. Early waves are purposely overpowered to make you use these powers over and over to gain a rush of coins, often to then build towers to survive.
The problems with these changes are that they are marmite and somewhat unbalanced. Early on, each level is often very tight but I rarely failed a level if I got passed the first 2 or 3 waves. This is because money ends up overflowing your ability to spend it and so you’ll end up spamming all the attacks and then the five passive abilities too. You’ll still have cash left over. This often makes the last few waves less of a threat than they should be. I personally did enjoy having to restock and attack everything with my mouse but it turned the game into a merge of a clicker and tower defence game towards the end. The tech tree lets you sell towers and upgrades back and I found myself using this a lot mid game. This is because tech upgrades are tied to doing well in previous levels so it encourages experimentation. Again, wrong tower placement sees you come unstuck very quickly.
What elevated the game for me was its theming and charm. I loved the environment, graphics and the interplay between the main characters between missions. Many maps have environmental traps to help you out too such as creating a puddle of glue or a sugar sweet block. It is these little embellishments that raise the games bar. There were three difficulty levels and hard was frankly beyond my skills whilst medium was a challenge late on. Although the game has some balancing issues, I did find it really quite fun and enjoyable. Bugvasion TD is a game that is more than the sum of its parts and it just… flows. That is why the score is slightly higher than perhaps it should be – it simply clicked with me.
Engaging, cash balancing tower defence game with a decent amount of charm.
Forces you to be aggressive and try different tactics.
Very challenging, especially on hard.
The ammo juggling may not be for everyone.
Levels are stilted to be very hard out the gate which may put you off.
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