When I played Sanctum 2 for the first time, I found the combination of FPS and tower defense to be rather fun and refreshing. Coffee Stain Studios did a great job of improving on their formula from the first game. A lot of people don’t know (myself included) that during the same time Sanctum 2 was released, Coffee Stain Studios released another game in the Sanctum universe. It was a pure tower defense game called Super Sanctum TD. Well, now that I have played it, I can’t believe I missed this gem of a game.
Super Sanctum TD is a retro-styled tower defense game where players are tasked with building strategic barricades, placing defensive towers on said blocks and holding off hoards of aliens as they try to reach the player’s core. It’s a simple concept, but it is far from simple in execution.
Using resources (money), players build special attack towers to kill waves. These towers include gatling turrets, long shot towers, mortars and much more. Using these in the right places is essential. Many players of the original Sanctum games will see some very familiar towers in Super Sanctum.
Along with the familiar towers, players will also see similar enemies as well. Walkers, Runners, Brood Mothers and the like will try to invade the player’s area and destroy the core.
Things start off by creating a maze-like arena with the building blocks that can house towers. Using these in the right way will make or break a level. Creating the longest path to the core is the best course of action. Placing towers in just the right places for maximum damage will quickly stop the waves from getting any further.
After the building phase, an attack can be initiated. During this time, each enemy killed will generate money and sometimes, depending on the perks, will drop crates that offer up more resources. Players can build and upgrade towers even during the waves as long as they have the money for it. If they are running low on funds, any tower can be sold. If players think they have their towers placed perfectly and want to speed the wave on, there is a fast forward button that will speed up the battle. Be careful, though. Getting cocky can end in disaster, and not all enemies go by the maze players have set up.
As I mentioned above, perks play a large role in Super Sanctum. After completing a level, players are scored one to three stars (four stars if the level is played on the hard difficulty) these stars are not just a rank on a leader board, these serve as upgrade points that can be placed into a series of perks that can benefit the player. Better damage with certain turrets, longer lasting effects, cheaper towers and many more permanent perks will become available in a skill-tree set. If a player doesn’t like how they spent their points, they can refund them at any time.
Along with perks and towers at the player’s disposal, there are also skills that can be used. These skills range from freezing a group of enemies in place for a certain amount of time to exploding the entire board and damaging every enemy on screen. These skills have a cool down so players can’t just spam smartbombs all day long.
The player’s profile can level up and unlock even more towers and skills. They can even unlock the ability to bring more of each with them into a battle. There’s actually a lot to this little tower defense game.
The game has an isometric view with a retro art style. The 16-bit style makes it look like an old arcade game from the 90’s, and the retro soundtrack really nails it for the overall presentation.
The experience may be simplistic in nature, but if players aren’t careful, they will lose and lose quickly. When getting the right layout for the blocks and having the right kind of towers in the right place, it gives off this sense of accomplishment. Seeing my defenses hold off the entire wave of enemies and getting that experience point bonus feels great. Then again, having made it to the final wave only to have a giant boss completely run through my defenses like they were nothing was crushing.
Coffee Stain Studios is a developer that likes to improve their games over time. Just recently, there was a major update to the game that changed a good amount of things, including different perks, upgrade systems and changes to the UI. The big thing was I was now able to full screen the game. The only downside to this is that it makes the game somewhat stretched and pixilated. I wish there was a way to adjust the resolution, but still that’s a small gripe in an otherwise great game.
Super Sanctum TD is a rather deep tower defense game in a nice little retro package. It gives players a good challenge while keeping the mechanics simple. There is a ton to do and upgrade and I never felt like I wasn’t progressing in some way. With numerous levels with replay value, this game can last players well into the ten hour mark. Oh, the best kicker of them all? It’s only $3.99 on Steam. If you enjoy tower defense games, Super Sanctum TD is the game for you. I highly recommend it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.