Radiant Defense: Technicolor Tower Defense in Space

The development team at Hexage has been creating multi platform games for years, and their recent offering, Radiant Defense, demonstrates they’re still at the top of their game. I first discovered Radiant Defense on iOS and thought so much of the gameplay and design, I sought out everything they’d made, and even tried out Radiant Defense on my Mac.

A tower defense puzzler, Radiant Defense has brought a breath of fresh air to the genre. But can Radiant Defense keep everybody, from casual gamers to hardcore players, happy?

Your Basic Tower Defense… In Space!

Radiant Defense is a tower defense game set in outer space, smack in between Earth and the alien horde. Your mission as the player is to prevent the evil alien attackers from getting past Earth’s defenses and reaching the vortex barrier keeping the baddies out. The Commander, a shoot-first kind of guy, and Doc, the scientist on the team, will dole out game wisdom and jokes at the top of every level

The Commander gives you a pro tip on fighting aliens.

The Commander gives you a pro tip on fighting aliens.

The mechanics will be familiar to fans of tower defense games, but even if Radiant Defense is your first outing with games of this kind, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to move around the game. At the beginning of each turn, or “wave,” you’ll load up on turrets and strategically place them around the screen. You’re limited, of course, by how much in game currency you have, and it doesn’t really re-up at the start of a new turn, so it can be helpful to pinch pennies if you want to afford the big stuff later. The Commander and Doc will hand out hints now and then if a particularly bad enemy is around the corner or you’re going to be facing something new, so you can have the right turrets ready.

Be a Defense Cartographer

Radiant Defense’s gameplay is par for the course so far, but it really veers from the norm by allowing the player to edit the map, altering the path the enemies take to the goal. Using construction modules provided by Doc, you can create real choke points or force the aliens to take a much longer trip to the vortex. Between waves, you have the option of moving your construction modules, and this is important, because not every map layout is ideal for every enemy.

Placing construction modules to make the course that much harder for the enemies.

Placing construction modules to make the course that much harder for the enemies.

A tutorial level will run you through how to work the construction modules and the three default turrets. Clicking on each turret or on the construction module will give you additional information, important if you want to maximize firepower against enemies who are only susceptible to limited attacks. If you’ve never played a tower defense or just want to brush up, you can return to the tutorial as many times as you like, and the module and turret info is always available in the game.

Freemium?

Radiant Defense is a freemium app, which means that while the game is free, there are lots of extras that will make the game more fun, but you’re going to have to pay for those. All of the really good weapons have to be bought in packs through in app purchases, and while I wholeheartedly am in favor of supporting developers with my money as well as my undying affection, having to make that purchase in the middle of a wave, while getting slapped by pink chewed-bubblegum aliens, just pulls me out of the game. By that point, I’d already died a couple of times and lost some progress. And maybe rage quit once or twice, but that’s just between us.

I’d already played Radiant Defense on the iPhone, and it’s essentially exactly the same game on OS X, so it did feel strange to pay for the same game content in both places. When I buy the same app for both my Mac and my iPhone, I expect and usually get some extra value for those two purchases; there’s a reason to own it on both devices, and the app doesn’t have the same utility on a single device. That’s not the case here, and while I’m happy to have Radiant Defense on my Mac and iPhone and happy to pay for it in both places, the freemium model made me feel like I’d ordered two games but there was only one in the box.

Conclusion

Radiant Defense is just a beautiful game to look at. The technicolor, day-glo aliens and cartoonish explosions are a huge draw for this game. It’s not the same, dated tower defense. Radiant Defense looks and feels updated, and it’s a nice addition to one of the older gaming genres. It was really exciting to play this one on a screen larger than my palm and let the graphics fill up my display.

It's more fun when lots of things are exploding!

It’s more fun when lots of things are exploding!

I definitely came to Radiant Defense on OS X because I loved it on iOS, and it gives me the same warm fuzzies on my Mac as it did on my iPhone. While I can’t play it when I just have a few minutes to kill, the OS X version lets me really become absorbed in the game and the story in a way the quick fixes of iPhone gameplay never did. With Radiant Defense in full screen on my display and a full hour or three to waste on cupcake-shaped aliens, it’s a much more encompassing experience.

The graphics, soundtrack, and gameplay really all come together in Radiant Defense to make this a top notch game. It’s a must-play for tower defense enthusiasts, gamers looking for an exciting change of pace, or really anyone who’s looking to kill some time with a solid game.


Summary

Inventive and fun tower defense gameplay allows you to blow up technicolor aliens.

9
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