Over the Top Tower Defense

February 26, 2020
Developer: SMG Studio
Publisher: SMG Studio
Platform: Nintendo Switch

It's been a long time since I've played a truly fantastic tower defense game, but this one does it for me. Much unlike Space Pioneer (a mobile port from a few reviews ago), Over the Top Tower Defense (abbreviated as OTTTD) did everything right when being ported over to the Switch. I didn't think I'd find myself saying one of my favorite tower defense games was on a console, but here we are.

OTTTD is a fairly straightforward Tower Defense game, but with a hero-driven twist (which is found less often in these sorts of games) and a hell of a lot of polish. Similar to Sanctum 2, you spend some of your time managing towers and some of your time coordinating direct attacks via heroes. Rather than controlling one player from a first-person perspective, however, you control three individual heroes, all of which are managed independently via the standard top-down tower defense perspective. Each hero class levels up independently of the others, and you can select a weapon, armor, and two active skills for each one. The heroes have different synergies and you can build each the way you like, which is great. There's some micromanagement here, but you can customize it to the level you want, which is also great.

Each hero also has a skill tree which allows you to select and upgrade active and passive skills; my one and only gripe with the game is that while you are awarded 3 skill points per level, some skills take 6, 9 or even 12 points to level up once. These skills are strong, of course, and this had to be done for balancing reasons, but it simply feels bad to have one character gain nothing while the others are so powerful so much earlier on. For this reason I mostly avoided using the Scientist—but others might prefer that playstyle.

The levels are well-designed: Not too long and not too short. There is the occasional level with an interesting concept to change things up as well. Two levels have no set paths, so enemies just wander wherever; one level only gives you a single tower; another still gives you no towers at all; and there are even a few boss fights. In addition, the stages alternate between "Steamcrust" and "Horror" which feature completely different enemy types and thus require different strategies, since each and every enemy type has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are even six "endless" maps that allow you to see how long you can survive for.

There is a decent enough variance in tower types and they are all designed to work with the different hero classes in different ways. They come in three types: Impact, Energy and Fire/Explosive, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses as well. You might expect this to come down to yet another rock-paper-scissors, but it's not the case: you really do need to understand what type of tower to place where, or your game suffers severely.

There's really not much to say here: OTTTD does tower defense and does it well. I have so few gripes and so many good things to say that this ended up being a short one—but whatever. If you like tower defense games, go play it.

Final Rating