There's a funny thing that unites most of the 'retro' iOS games we play each month. They rarely bear much close comparison to the games we used to play back in the '80s and '90s.
Oh, sure, the basic premise might be the same, and you can bet there’ll be familiar pixel-art graphics and an 8-bit soundtrack. But when it comes down to it, the gameplay systems are usually distinctly 21st century.
Super Sanctum TD is one of the more blatant of these contradictions. It presents itself as a retro tower defence game, which is an anachronistic term if ever we saw one.Defending the past
Tower defence is a pretty modern genre. It might be an offshoot of strategy, but it didn’t really emerge as its own distinct category until the latter half of the noughties.
Super Sanctum TD is as straight-up a tower defence game as you could hope to see, but it adopts an isometric 2D art style more akin to a mid-'90s hardcore strategy sim.
The premise is familiar, with waves of enemies streaming in from one side of the screen towards your base. You’re given as much time as you need to spend your resources on defences in the shape of various automated gun turrets.
One slight deviation is the requirement to lay down a base for each tower. These bases are cheap (and eventually free), and enable you to create mazey diversionary runs without the need to commit to purchasing full towers.Solid defence
The towers themselves are a familiar bunch. You get your bog standard machine guns, your long-range artillery, the one that slows down the enemy, the anti-air silo, and so on.
There’s also a selection of special abilities that can be employed once their individual cool-down timer runs its course. These can be smart bomb attacks, placeable mines, or enemy teleporters.
Add in the ability to spend points on perks in between levels, which gradually enhance your various abilities, and Super Sanctum TD gradually reveals itself to be a lot more involved and tactical than it would first appear.
Still, like we said, it’s very much a traditional tower defence game. If you’ve been left cold by Fieldrunners, Kingdom Rush (you weirdo), or any of the other TD big hitters in the past, don’t expect Super Sanctum TD's retro-inflected efforts to beguile you.
For everyone else, forget the anachronistic style and enjoy a(nother) well-crafted tower defence experience.