It’s quite possible that I’ve covered far and away more tower defense games on this website than any other genre. I’m an addict so it’s definitely no coincidence. However, tower defense games are a dime a dozen, so it’s going to take something extra, something special in order to catch my attention. Skull Skill Studios has a couple of tricks up its sleeve with its upcoming game, Fire With Fire, and I had a chance to try out an early build at a recent Indienomicon event.
Currently in beta, Fire With Fire mixes up the tower defense formula by adding in offense. Whether in online multiplayer matches or in the not-yet-available single player campaign, players must defend their own base with towers while also destroying their opponent’s. The former is achieved through customizable defenses and the latter via sending creeps at your enemies.
The ability to attack is limited by a one-minute cooldown timer which gives players a brief respite to focus on their own defenses. Placing towers can redirect the path that incoming creeps take, with the goal being to lengthen that path as much as possible. Individual towers can be upgraded using points earned through continuing to build more towers, and stronger tower types can eventually be unlocked in each group. There’s a fairly standard tradeoff when it comes to the tower specializations like offense firepower, range, and single-target vs. splash damage. However, there are some other interesting side effects thrown in like the ability to make the enemies pop up in the air.
The offensive system is just as entertaining as protecting your own base. Players choose the types of creeps they want to send from a handful of varieties and also the order in which they’ll come in. This adds an extra layer of strategy in that some creeps are damage soakers, some are weak but speedy, and others are offensive beasts. Running them in a particular order can be much more effective once you get a feel for the enemy’s defenses. Repeatedly sending creeps of a specific variety will also evolve them into a more ferocious version. Once combat actually starts, the game moves into a passive mode where the player is either watching their own base get attacked or seeing the outcome of their own offensive onslaught. The break is brief, though, and players will need to be ready to quickly resume focus on attacking and defending.
An area where the game shines – quite literally – is in the graphical style. The environments, towers, and creeps are all drawn in a cartoonish manner (think Castle Crashers with extra texturing), and there’s a definite ‘wow factor’ in the particle effects seen on the battlefield. Flaming explosions, singeing electricity, and other effects look downright beautiful. It’s really impressive, and it will be interesting to see whether all of that activity bogs down future mobile versions of the game.
Perhaps one of the best features of Fire With Fire is that it offers multiplatform and cross-platform play. You’ll be able to take on your PC-loving friends from the comfort of your couch or recliner. While PC and Mac will be the early recipients of this title, plans also include releases on OUYA, Android, and iOS. Although the current version is focused on multiplayer – and thankfully so – a single player campaign is also in development that will include leveling up by completing specific goals.
Fire With Fire is currently in closed beta, but appears to be progressing quite well. Skull Skill Studios has placed the game on Steam Greenlight, and their Kickstarter campaign is just about to end. Kickstarter backers will receive access to the closed beta, so check it out asap.
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