Tower defence games are a very niche genre, and injecting new life into the limited gameplay possibilities is no small task. That's why it's an unusual pleasure to report on In-Fusio's latest accomplishment, Tower Wars, which has managed to do just that.
What's immediately noticeable (and indicative of the high quality of the game's design throughout) is the opening menu music. It's incredible rare to hear dramatic, orchestral compositions such as this in any game, let alone a mobile one.
Appropriate music and sound effects are too easily overlooked, and when you consider a game like Tower Wars it's easy to see the huge impact a striking musical score can have on a game's atmosphere.
The dramatic theme goes beyond just the music, however. And why not? There's absolutely no reason that a small, mobile game can't have an epic premise and dominating presence – all it takes is a considered and passionate design, and it's clear that Tower Wars has that in abundance. So much so that it's worth taking the time to explain it, in fact.
The story begins ostentatiously with the birth of the universe (an awesome set-up that implies a profound depth of consequence for the ensuing battle). Six Guardians of Destiny are appointed to ensure that history and the future are safe from interference.
But when the Guardians go missing, the forces of Chaos assail pivotal moments in history to turn the timelines in favour of the evil Lord.
It's a wonderfully grand premise that's simple enough to explain in a few concise sentences – backed up by a beautifully thematic design.
Beginning at the dawn of history in 6000 BC, it's up to you to follow the Drones of Chaos through the ages and prevent them from destroying the Crystals of Time by assembling a defensive strategy along the last leg of the paths that least to the crystals.
At this point, the established and familiar gameplay mechanics of the tower defence genre spring into life, but the superbly realised historical periods add a significant artifice of variety; despite the gameplay essentially being quite repetitive.
Tower Wars features a good number of different defensive capabilities that are unlocked as you progress through the levels (rapid fire towers and net launchers which slow the Drones down are personal favourites), and each model can be upgraded or sold during play.
Money is awarded for each Drone killed, but the developer has been careful to ensure your pockets don't overflow – a strategic upgrade programme is often all you can afford, and it takes careful consideration to garner enough cash to fully protect the crystals.
Ultimately, what we have here is a good rendition of the standard genre fare made great by a passionate development, a highly creative design and a wonderful infusion of epic, theatrical atmosphere. It may prove a little difficult for some, but aside from that small niggle it's a compulsory download for strategy fans, and a perfect introduction for those who think they might be.