Defense Grid: The Awakening (Demo)

This is a tower defense single player strategy game from indie developer Hidden Path Entertainment. The free demo available on Steam contains several missions that range in complexity but are tutorial driven. There is enough available in the sample that I am definitely going to pick this up during the forthcoming Steam holiday sale, however I will state here that the game is well worth the current asking price of $9.99 base, $19.99 with all DLC.

It is simply the most well produced game I have played in several years and I am surprised this title (let alone the genre itself) has slipped past my gaming interests. It is surprisingly deep in strategy as well as tactics, yet not to the point of overwhelming a new player. The demo contains a condensed sampling of enemy aliens and the defensive towers that can be constructed, which is nice because if gives me some new things to look forward to in the full retail purchase.

Each scenario has a three tiered medal system much like the old school Rainbow Six Rogue Spear FPS games did, where you can quickly see how well you did in a particular mission (a great many games sadly lack even a rudimentary approach to this fundamental requirement).

Generally speaking it seems that a solid foundational strategy is to create a maze which requires the aliens to take the longest possible path (without allowing for a straight run across several grids) all the while exposing them to the maximum amount of firepower and time-on-target. Everything is a brilliant tradeoff as the placement of an extra tower can cut off the line-of-sight/line-of-fire of other mutually supporting towers.

Overall I would have to say that this is an absolutely superb game well worth the time needed to excel at it.

Here are some observations from my most recent play test:

The Crasher alien would always get through until this final effort when a diagonal line (several grids to the right) actually caused a longer pathway and more time-on-target for the towers to inflict damage. A series of three Tesla Towers (two upgraded to yellow and one maximized at red) is what turned the tide on this monster boss who would otherwise walk through whatever maze and gauntlet of weaponry thrown at.

This is the front section of the Barrier to Entry scenario map where I placed only four towers: one Gun and three Inferno. This shaped the path and forced the aliens to loop around and through the three flame throwers.

This is the middle section where I have a long run of towers which forces the aliens to march down one side, turn into a kill box and then march back on the opposite side of the tower array. Three of the Gun Towers are upgraded to yellow.

This is the back section where I went with a more diagonal line approach to shape the alien path which worked out better than trying to box them in as it allowed for longer line-of-sight/line-of-fire on the enemy. The array of the Tesla Towers is what won this particular play test for me by killing off the Crasher alien at the end as it was nearing the exit.

This is just a general action shot during the play test after I have what I think was all of the towers up (with some upgrading still to be done). In the front end the Inferno Towers are cooking the aliens in a kill box with an elevated Laser Tower taking pot shots, while on the right side of the image in the middle section the array of various towers are incinerating the poor bastards that have to move through this gauntlet.

Panel one of the after-action Mission Summary: a very simplistic and stylish representation of the components that make up the final score.

Panel two: the additional details of the mission are pertinent and not overblown.

The Mission Selection panel: once a scenario is completed, the medals awarded show as activated with a high level summary of the remaining Cores as well as the total score.

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