The tower defence genre is a bit of a 'cursed treasure' for any developer.
It looks so tantalisingly shiny. The genre works a treat on touchscreen devices, and what's more there seems to be an insatiable appetite among gamers for more of it.
And yet, draw closer to this attractive stash, and you'll find an immortal champion ready to hack down anyone who tries to steal the jewelled tower defence crown.
I'm talking about Kingdom Rush.Property at a premium
Cursed Treasure 2 developer IRN Soft's tactics involve mimicking the jaunty fantasy look and basic feel of Kingdom Rush, but then teaching it a variety of fresh moves.
It mostly works, too. What initially appears to be a needlessly limiting experience soon opens out into something quite interesting. Not as good as Ironhide's masterpiece, but certainly a worthwhile accompaniment.
The simple act of building a tower in Cursed Treasure 2 is a lot more constrained than in other tower defence games. For one thing, you can only build each of the three core tower types on territory of the corresponding colour.
What's more, you'll often have to spend your limited resources to cultivate the land for such placement.Painting the town red
Speaking of resources, there are a number of things other than your towers that demand investment. Towns and castles send out supporting heroes to help launch a raid on your stash of five gems, but you can spend mana to gradually lessen their impact, and ultimately take them over and nullify them altogether.
You can also invest in gold and mana mines to slowly increase your income of both. All in all, it's an interesting economy that makes you think long and hard about your overall strategy as much as the moment-to-moment action.
Another of Cursed Treasure 2's systems that initially feels limiting is the upgrade system. You can't improve your towers until they've gained the appropriate experience through use, which means it's possible to effectively starve your towers of XP fuel with an overly effective forward guard.Counter attack
All of this added complexity and variation is a double-edged sword. It makes Cursed Treasure 2 a lot more interesting than most Kingdom Rush wannabes, but it also makes it less intuitive and tougher to warm to. It just doesn't quite flow as well as we'd like.
You don't get the same instinctive understanding of the interplay between the three tower types as you do in the Kingdom Rush games. Even a number of hours in, I still find myself going back to the tower description to see what each stage of a tower's development does.
Combined with the restrictive territory system, I found myself developing the same kind of even, varied defence across successive levels, without quite the level of tactical fluidity I would have liked.
But really, Cursed Treasure 2's developer deserves credit for taking a distinctive approach to a well established genre. It innovates in enough areas to be worth a look even if there are better, more fluid tower defence games out there.
It's not going to be stealing the tower defence crown, then, but Cursed Treasure 2 has managed to find a sneaky little niche in which to survive.