True to its title, Spires reaches high to breathe new life into the well-worn tower defence genre.
Set in a mythical land where normal people are dependent on benevolent magic-users known as Makers, the game combines a riveting storyline with challenging tactics.
By pairing a well-scripted plot and in-depth tower defence gameplay, Spires refreshes a tiring genre. While the foundation is familiar, quality design and a few neat ideas set this entertaining game apart.
Meet your maker
You assume command of one of three young Makers studying for the day when you're entrusted with the overseeing the safety of the community. Evil forces jealous of the Makers' powers threaten stability and it’s up to you to defend the realm.
Repelling invaders involves constructing various defensive buildings. These range from basic projectile-hurling structures to more elaborate devices - some of the magic towers are capable of slowing down the enemy, or covering them with burning embers which slowly eat away at their health. All towers are forged using a resource known as Mana, which is dropped by slain enemies.
The three characters you control have access to different towers and although there are similarities, there’s enough variety to make you approach each character’s missions differently.
Tower of strength
Success is very much about controlling the flow of your enemy's progress. Whenever you place a tower, a set of footprints is displayed on-screen which shows the direction in which the enemy marches. Using this guide you can funnel your opponent’s forces down a particular route, ensuring that you inflict maximum damage along the way.
You can block off potential routes and force your rival’s soldiers to take the long way to their objective. With clever placement on some of the more open levels it’s even possible to create elaborate mazes to dish out a devastating onslaught of death.
The proviso to this system is that your enemy must always have at least one clear path to your base - the game won’t allow you to place that final decisive tower that completely blocks off your foe.Variety is the spice of life
With a wide range of towers and the ability to upgrade them as you play to increase their offensive potential, Spires packs a lot of value.
Another welcome touch is the diversity of enemy units on display. Each type has different strengths to consider – archers can hit your base from a distance, while barbarians become faster and meaner the more damage they take.
It helps that the story is enthralling. The campaign's 15 lengthy missions are sure to have you glued to your screen. After the campaign, there’s more entertainment on offer in the shape of special Puzzle stages which give you a set amount of Mana with which to build the best defences.
It’s rare that you come across a tower defence title that so comprehensively impresses, but Spires is proof that even old dogs can be taught new tricks.