Riley Little of Game Rant reviews Trenched
Trenched is that most recent downloadable game developed by Double Fine and published by Microsoft Game Studios. The latest game from the guys behind Stacking and Psychonauts is essentially a brand new take on the tower defense genre – with the big difference being a massive player-controlled mech.
Trenched is a great downloadable title that changes the same tired and generic feel of many other tower defense games, and brings something new to the table that is certainly worth owning. However, that’s not to say that the game isn’t without a few flaws.
The story behind Trenched is that it takes place in an alternate reality where humans are at war against giant cybernetic monsters created by a mad scientist that has betrayed his own race. The humans respond to the new threat by creating giant mechs to combat the foes, and hopefully return the world to normal. Of course, since the game is developed by Double Fine there is plenty of witty dialogue, and the overall approach to the story is intentionally light-hearted and laugh-out-loud funny at times.
Trenched is essentially a tower defense game – so it play out like most other titles in the genre. Players are given certain locations to protect, and they must create defenses to destroy and/or slow down enemies as they try to demolish the buildings the player is guarding. Usually all the player can do is assign turrets to certain areas, but in Trenched players make weapon placements while kicking butt in a mech. The end result is a game that requires a lot of strategy at some point – and is an extremely rewarding experience.
Every time an enemy is destroyed they’ll drop pieces of “scrap”, which can then be collected and used to deploy new armaments on the battlefield such as turrets, repair stations, and land mine dispensers. Each weapon type has a weakness and advantage to certain enemy types that players will run across at different points in the game. For example, Makeshift Flak Turrets are good at taking down foes in the air, while a Standard Shotgun Turret is better suited for close-combat encounters with ground enemies. There is certainly strategic planning required when deciding between emplacements, and the fact that anyone playing can only carry a maximum of four different types doesn’t make it that much easier.
As players progress through the game’s story they’ll be able to unlock and purchase new weapons that can be equipped on their mech. Players will really have to plan ahead and decide what equipment they’ll need to complete each mission, but the game will also help out and suggest which weapons would work best for the combat scenario that the individual is entering. Everything, including the mech’s weapons, chassis, legs, paint job, and even the marine controlling it are all customizable, but the ability to customize your marine only includes selecting between some hats and uniforms so it’s not quite as in-depth as many would probably like.
Although a large part of the game revolves around a basic tower defense structure, there are boss fights that mix up the formula substantially. Boss fights are all about going in and attacking the robo-fiends – an intriguing role reversal for anyone who might feel like the game is getting repetitive. There is nothing to defend so it’s just Mano-e-Massive Monstero, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. The boss will obviously attempt to destroy the player-controlled mech, and will launch plenty of other baddies in the process. Once the monster is defeated, an achievement will unlock and the player moves on. Some of the most fun I had during the game was fighting the boss monsters, and it was a little bit of a shame that these confrontations didn’t occur more often throughout the campaign.
Now if playing games alone isn’t something that sounds very appealing then you’ll be delighted to know that there is also a very nice multiplayer option. Up to three other players, be them friends or strangers, can get in on the strategic mech battling, and team up to dismantle the newest threat against humanity. The game will amp-up in difficulty, depending on how many people join in on the action, but the experience is still an absolute blast and having different types of mechs to complete certain types of tasks makes the teamwork really enjoyable.
The story mode is also a lot of fun, but for some buyers it’ll be too short. Sure, players can go back through all of the missions and collect all of the gold medals, but even that won’t take too long. Another problem was the inability to remove any turrets that are already placed on the battlefield. I know this is largely cause by player error – throwing down the wrong emplacement, but it’s such a common option in other games of this nature that it’s surprising Double Fine didn’t add the option in Trenched.
Trenched is one of the better downloadable games in recent memory, and even though it has a few minor faults, it’s still a great game. Double Fine and Tim Schaffer have really hit this one out of the park, and it’s a game that should at least be demoed by anyone with an Xbox 360. The graphics are great, the gameplay is solid, and the multiplayer is fun. What more could you ask for?
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