Review: Radiant Defense
So how do you start a review about yet another title in the 'Tower Defense' genre? Well you could point out just how similar all these games are, how they need a careful balance of resources and enemies to attack during each level, how everything should build on previous lessons learned on these levels, and there needs to be a strong visual design to make the title stand out. Or you could mention all of the above, and point out that Radiant Defense does it all.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
Let's get the basics out the way. It's a Tower Defense game, so you have an entrance for the 'bad guys' to enter the game world, and they are all heading towards a goal which you need to defend. Let too many of them reach the goal, and the game is over.
Radiant Defense takes a science fiction paintbrush to the story, with a 'big bad' throwing enemies at your space based facilities and heading to the swirly yellow macguffin. What I like here is that, as well as the ability to build armaments (the requisite guns, lasers, and missile launchers), and defensive boosters (giving the offensive items more range or power, better improvements, or more purchasing options), you also have the option to build physical walls, and create the channels that the enemies will have to navigate down.
These walls are where you have to build all the other equipment, so not only are you planning the route of the enemy, but also where you will be able to fire on them. You get one chance to lay down a wall, and with practice you'll know where to build to give your weapons the best chance of destroying the enemy.
Mounting a construction onto a wall is a simple matter of selecting it from the menu strip that pops up on the bottom of the screen, and then tapping where you want to build. The quirk here is that you need to confirm the placement on the menu strip before it is locked in place. That feels a bit unique to the genre, but it works, so I'm not complaining.
As expected, your choice of weaponry is wide-ranging, and you will need to spend the money earned through the destruction of previous enemies wisely. Should you go for a new weapon, or upgrade one of the existing weapons? In some Defense games you could compare the numbers, but not in Radiant Defense. Abilities are not described with hard numerical detail, but in phrases like "slow reload", "long range" or "weak".
This fog around the abilities of all the facilities and weaponry is actually pretty smart. It does extend the life of the game, and lets you play around with different strategies on each level, but it does feel a little artificial. The skill is not is deciding how to use each piece, but trying to find out what each piece does. That takes a lot more trial and error. Couple that experimentation with the realisation that the failure in a later wave is likely down to placement or decisions made in a much earlier wave (which means you'll be starting again), and you have an interesting approach to longevity. I might personally decide to veer away from the fog of numbers if I was to design a Tower Defense game, but I'm happy that designers Hexage have stayed consistent with their design decisions throughout the title.
Consistency really is the key here. Radiant Defense starts off at just the right side of hard, and as I play though, as my repertoire of skills increases, as the incoming enemies become more numerous and better equipped... Radiant Defence's skill level stays at just the right side of hard. That takes a lot of play-testing (or some supremely accurate guesswork). No matter how they managed it, they've managed it.
That tops off a rather fantastic little package. It looks fabulous, the controls are easy to understand, it's challenging, has that 'one more go and I'll crack it' addiction, and enough levels to keep you interested for at least two week's play time.
I'd definitely recommend Radiant Defense for fans of the genre. I'm not so sure if it's a good place to start for those new to Tower games, but if you want to play around and persevere, it's just about accessible enough for the newbies.
Congratulations Hexage, I think you've hit the sweet spot.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at