- iPhone (version tested)/ iPad
It wouldn’t be grossly exaggerative to call Tower Defence: Lost Earth the best value for money package since The Orange Box and while fans of tower defence are unlikely to uncover anything sweepingly innovative about Lost Earth, its dull name doesn’t belie its mechanics, to disregard it based on that alone would be oh so foolish.
As ever, waves of enemies enter the levels and work their way around a predetermined path toward the base. The player assembles towers to prevent them from reaching their goal, splattering the floor with their primitive inner workings and erecting new towers with money earned from their deaths.
Towers are genre: lasers capable of shooting through multiple enemies, missiles that deal huge damage and towers that slow the enemy among others, but they’re fine tuned to the point that when it comes to choosing which 6 to take with you into battle, there’s really no obvious choice of who to leave behind.
Variations on the typical base defence objective include resource gathering, which requires balancing both the defending of the base with stockpiling capital, and a curious riff on boss fights. In these, bosses are static and you have to gradually build towers closer to the boss while simultaneously defending your base from the usual waves of enemies.
Lost Earth is very much quintessential tower defence but it’s deceptively huge and by bringing together just about everything that makes the genre great, applying a level of polish and then tweaking it slightly, it teeters toward genre perfection: no light praise.
The core campaign consists of 40 levels and takes upward of six hours to finish. That alone makes a mockery of the price point. Together those levels are presented on an Advance Wars style world overview which not only details levels completed, ranks and badges earned and those yet to be tackled, but visually displays your advancement through the world, tying in with the threadbare story.
But while that story is far from gripping – a hackneyed tale of humanity retiring from Earth in search of recourses, landing on a far-away world and proceeding to wipe out its indigenous population in the name of a few trees and shiny rocks – it gives a sense of purpose to the campaign beyond defending a base.
The residents of the alien world are big fish people, angry mutant bears and other unarmed, hopelessly suicidal creatures and the story does little more than document the worst day in the lives of these hopeless natives.
For a caravan of imps, mutant bears and other freaks the enemy is oddly charming and despite being dead for the most part, they are – indeed, everything about Lost Earth is – gorgeous, borrowing generously from Advance Wars in aesthetic but with a tinge of cel-shading. It makes for a gloriously colourful and detailed world.
Towers are intricate and interesting to watch with all sorts whirring and pulsing going on as they’re painting the ground with the blood and tears of countless critters merely defending their home.
But at this point I’m running out of words and if this hasn’t persuaded you to part with a paltry 59p then nothing else will. Lost Earth is the most fun I’ve had with any tower defence game on the iPhone and it would be nothing but poor manners to pass up on what is the best example of the genre since Defence Grid.