There must be some subtle physiological aspect found in diversions based on repelling outbreaks of transcendental attackers. Thirty years ago we protected Terra Firma from waves of Space Invaders; more recently a tide of tower defense titles has resonated with gamers. Although I have played a number of games within the genre this year, including Desktop Tower Defense, PixelJunk Monsters, and Ninjatown, I am still inexplicably drawn to the notion of building a network of ballistic deterrents to defeat an encroaching horde. Who needs a narrative when there is a strong primal emotion that designers can tap into?
Whereas PixelJunk Monsters strayed from the traditional defense tower trappings, with its on-screen protagonist; Savage Moon sticks closer to formula. By exhibiting a more conventional take on the genre, the title co-exists wonderfully alongside PixelJunk’s title, in the Playstation store. After spending hours guiding PJM’s turtle-like avatar around the screen, the direct construction method of Savage Moon became preferable.
Arguably, Moon’s greatest asset is its intuitive menu interface. Players use the left stick to move around the map, while the right stick rotates the camera. Thankfully, players seldom have to fiddle with the game’s perspective due to a number of solid design designs. Finding proper locations for defense weaponry could have been difficult in the game’s hilly environments, but the game thankfully signals buildable sites via a change in cursor color.
Upgrading individual weapon turrets or global technology is easily handled by a few instinctive presses on the d-pad. Within minutes, I had felt comfortable with the controls and began testing the effectiveness of my alien killing networks. Fortunately, the game’s learning curve is relatively long tailed; Savage Moon’s focus is on fun rather that frustration.
The game’s sole design wrinkle is the incorporation of an endless attack, called vengeance mode. Here, players ward off an infinite cascade of foes in an attempt to have the valiant efforts immortalized on the game’s online leaderboards. While the game has no multiplayer options, we can hardly fault the title for this omission- like many tower defense games, the context is one player against an overwhelming amount of sluggish foes.
Graphically, the game is a near-perfect example of a DLC title; with the exception of occasional slowdown when dozens of enemies are displayed on-screen. Mortar towers, when fully upgraded look rightfully intimidating, while machine guns turrets erupt in blazes of muzzle flash. Unlike many other defense games, Savage Moon conveys a sense of ballistic punishment to its convoy of marauders. Later levels offer different texture maps to offer variety to the extra-terrestrial skirmishes. The game’s sound effects portray an effectively bleak environment peppered with the thunder of war and cry of dying beasts.
Overall, Savage Moon’s greatest fault is its compliance to the tower defense formula; players seeking genre innovation may be slightly disappointed. However, players that haven’t been fatigued by the game model will find plenty of enjoyment in Fluffylogic’s title. Engineering a system of alien annihilation systems has seldom felt so satisfying.