You can’t swing a cat these days without hitting several tower defence games, and as a result it’s become increasingly difficult for new arrivals in the genre to stand out from the crowd. DayD Tower Rush is one such title, which, after trying its luck on iOS last year, has decided to peddle its mix of dinosaurs, time travel, and turrets on the PlayStation Vita in search of a new audience.
After your time machine breaks down on a trip back to the Jurassic era, you’ve no choice but to defend your camp from an onslaught of local residents who seem intent on smashing your only way back home into very small pieces. These prehistoric creatures work their way towards your camp along a number of paths that, while not the most direct routes, all eventually end up at your door.
Along these lanes are pre-set points where you can drop emplacements that will help you to defend your patch. Ranging from crossbows to catapults, each of the four types can have their stats – such as damage, range, and rate of fire – boosted temporarily during each stage or upgraded permanently between levels. Different fortifications are best employed against certain types of enemies, so your choice of tower is vital, as using the high damage but slow firing catapult against fast moving dinosaurs will see you obliterated in a matter of seconds.
As with other tower defence titles, a certain amount of trial and error is needed in order to get through each stage, as you have very little idea what’s going to make up each wave that heads your way. While the odd beast sneaking through isn’t the end of the world, it will get in your way of achieving the highest three star rating for a level, which in turn will impact how much of the I-volve resource that you earn.
I-volve is the permanent upgrade currency, and is ultimately the key to keeping your arsenal strong enough to deal with the ever growing hordes of creatures heading your way. The trouble is that even getting three stars on a stage nets such a small amount of this resource that you’ll struggle to afford later upgrades as their prices increase at a steep rate.
This is the first clue that the game just might be pushing for you to invest real world money in resource packs that happen to be on sale in the PlayStation Store. As the early stages aren’t too much of a challenge, you can initially get past this niggling worry, dismissing these permanent boosts as non-essential to success. It’s not until you get beyond the halfway point of the first set of levels – there’s a second set to unlock in the Triassic era – that you’ll begin to feel the squeeze on your second resource type, and your initial suspicions will be confirmed.
Fossils are earned by killing dinosaurs or mining them with a specific tower, and can be spent on building emplacements and temporarily upgrading your defences. As you work your way through each stage, the fossils that you start with drop to a point where you’ll not have enough to buy a single tower, and in order to stage any sort of defence, you’ll need to use the geo-charge abilities that you’ve unlocked.
These special attacks have lengthy cool downs and allow you to call in all manner of damaging strikes. Up until this point, you’ll have probably used them to get out of trouble should your defences fail, but when the starting resources are so low, you’ll be forced to deploy them to score the kills that you need to get enough fossils to erect your first tower. This puts you at such a disadvantage that surviving the opening waves becomes incredibly difficult, and even setting up the strongest defence that you can muster will lead to you barely scraping through.
When your progress eventually hits a brick wall, you’ll come to a conclusion – after many, many attempts to move forward – that it’s not how you’re playing that’s the problem, but the lack of permanent unlocks that you’ve earned. You can revisit earlier levels to try and get a better star rating and eke out some more I-volve, but this won’t net you much, as once you’ve got the highest rating on a stage, no more can be earned. As a result, you’ll be left to frustratingly play levels over and over again to try and find some way to move forward.
DayD Tower Rush is a free-to-play game masquerading in bargain clothing, enticing you in with its low price, before turning the screws in the hope that you’ll stump up more cash to progress. This would seem like a nefarious plan if the game itself wasn’t so uninteresting, offering nothing new in what’s already become an overpopulated genre. As a result you’re more likely to cut your losses than double down – especially when you realise that there are much better tower defence titles out there, that won’t try and devour your money.