You Should Play: Steampunk Tower

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Chillingo’s Steampunk Tower has something for everyone: Old-world visuals; a mildly interesting storyline; a nostalgic, jazzy soundtrack; and a huge, steampunk-themed tower that rises out of the dust and needs defending. 

Steampunk Tower is the quintessential tower defense game—and by that, I mean it’s a game in which you are asked to defend a tower. While most tower defense games have their own special take on what defines a tower—for example, Jelly Defense has you defend gemstones—Steampunk Tower defines tower very literally.

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This is your fortress. Defend it by collecting and using various weapons. 

Initially, your tower has just a few slots where you can place defense weapons, such as machine guns, heavy cannons, and slingshots that toss saw blades. As you gain more experience, your tower grows to accommodate more artillery, and you also receive tower points to spend on various upgrades. Although Steampunk Tower starts out relatively easy—you should be able to pass the first few levels without having to restart—the game gets challenging quickly unless you’re able to strategize. 

Not sold? Here are three more reasons to check it out:

A different kind of strategy: I love tower defense games, not only because there are several well-made mobile tower defense games on the market, but because they’re not as passive as other genres (read: FarmVille). To successfully beat most tower defense games, you’ll need a certain amount of skill and strategy, and Steampunk Tower is no different. 

It might seem like Steampunk Tower is copping out on the strategy front, because your tower can grow to accommodate more and more weapons. But the game’s developers do an excellent job of giving you just enough tower space to complete each level, yet not so much that you’ll be able to fill up your tower with high-value weapons and then just sit back and enjoy the show. Rather, Steampunk Tower asks you to get extremely involved in the game, swapping out weapons as they require extra time to reload, upgrading (and later selling) weapons strategically, and even moving weapons from one side of the tower to the other as enemy waves attack from both sides.

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Your tower sits on Lord Bingham's Etherium Mine.

Steampunk Tower asks a lot more of its players than do most tower defense games, and in some levels you’ll definitely have to be constantly on your toes. Luckily, weapons slide easily from slot to slot, and even to the middle of the tower, where they gain a recharge boost. 

A custom game: Like most tower defense games, Steampunk Tower allows for extensive customization. For example, you can upgrade your weapons, your tower, your abilities, and you can even purchase (with real money) special Etherium weapons that do impressive one-time damage. Steampunk Tower’s upgrade system is a little different from other tower defense games I’ve played, though: Instead of simply letting you buy newer or better weapons, it asks you to choose weapons upgrade paths. So as you move through the game you’ll have to decide whether you’d rather have double-barreled machine guns or guns with incendiary bullets.

You can upgrade your weapons in the Laboratory using tower points, which you earn after each level (even if you die and have to restart). You can always reconfigure your custom upgrades later in the game, by selling the points back to the store and starting from scratch, and sometimes you’ll find that you need to do this in order to get past a certain level. 

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Be selective when choosing your next weapon: You have to look at its upgrade path.

As steampunk as it gets: Are you a fan of the science-fiction subgenre that gives this game its name? Well, then you’ll love the overall look and feel of Steampunk Tower, which is highly stylized—and I mean that in a good way. Not only does the game boast great-looking high-res graphics and a spunky, jazzy soundtrack, everything about the game is totally in line with the steampunk theme.

In the storyline, you’re in charge of defending (via the tower) Lord Bingham’s Etherium Mine. Lord Bingham himself pops up to brief you before each level, and—naturally—he sports a top hat, monocle, moustache, and pipe. The tower, which remains the same in each level, is full of gears and decorative spouts alongside its weapons ledges. Your enemies, though mostly black shadows, operate steampunk-looking vehicles, including walking units that look like they’re from War of the Worlds.

Although tower defense games aren’t necessarily meant to transport you to another world, Steampunk Tower definitely does—and it’s a nice, attractive escape with a great soundtrack.

Developer: Chillingo
Platform: iOS (Universal), Android (Universal)
Price: $1

This story, "You Should Play: Steampunk Tower" was originally published by TechHive.

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