The earliest tower defence game I can remember wasn’t actually its own game. The popular Warcraft III custom map ‘Wintermaul’ chewed up way too many of my hours as a teen, and I loved it for its strategy and enjoyability.
Now a genre all on its own, one new contender makes a fairly strong showing with OTTTD. Short for Over The Top Tower Defence, this is a decent strategy game with enough flair to separate itself from the pack.
OTTTD won’t bore you with the standard high fantasy trappings or even typical sci-fi tropes. Instead, it’s set in a world at… peace? And with so many soldiers and militaries hanging around with nothing to do, the obvious solution was to create dimensional rifts and go to other worlds to wage the war they craved.
It sounds like a standard framing narrative for a gameplay-based TD but OTTTD carries its banner throughout the entire game. Flavor text is littered throughout, and everything from the loading screens to heroes’ battlefield quips fits the image. If it’s a mission briefing or a hero tossing out banter, it’s rife with warmongering, monster-slaughtering fun.
The game takes place as a campaign with unlockable “endless modes” for the true warmongers. Endless mode is fairly self-explanatory, but campaign mode is where OTTTD shines. At the beginning the player is introduced to a single hero, the Engineer, with six additional unlockable heroes. Heroes are unlocked as the game progresses, and eventually the player must choose a squad of three to fit their own style of play.
And of course, the heroes can’t carry the day without their towers. OTTTD features four basic deployments with three different damage types: impact, energy, and fire. Each tower can eventually be upgraded into a number of different varieties, and the strategic possibilities are quite numerous. All of these elements contribute to what is ultimately very addicting gameplay.
OTTTD incorporates tutorial components into its 25 missions every time a new mechanic is introduced. As a tower defence game, this one covers all the generic bases such as enemies with different resistances, special massive units, and unique maps including one in which the homebase is attacked from all sides with no set enemy paths. And once endless mode is unlocked, all restrictions drop as the hordes descend upon your base.
Where OTTTD gets all of its strategic ingenuity is from its tower variety and hero system. Heroes cannot die permanently if they fall, but instead get sent to “cloning” and are temporarily unavailable. This hurts, as heroes can be customized with skill points earned from level-ups with a multitude of passive and activated skills. The towers themselves come in quite the selection of damage types, rates of fire, upgrade options, and ranges. It’s safe to say each player will have their own preference, but they’ll be heavily tempted to try them all at least once.
And of course, everything is wrapped up in a wonderful package of sass and pop culture references. OTTTD doesn’t take anything seriously except for fun tower defence gameplay and relentlessly pursuing a tone of jovial tongue-in-cheek carnage. Add in a spunky sci-fi soundtrack and you get one hilarious game. The developers’ website calls it “Starship Troopers meets Spaceballs,” and they’re not wrong.
Interface-wise, OTTTD features a poppy cartoonish color and graphics palette. It’s easy on the eyes and looks good; controlling everything on a PC takes a little getting used to, however, but fortunately players are allowed a modicum of choice in the matter such as whether to use a left or right-click control scheme. Mobile versions of the game exist on all the major platforms, so you can get your TD on the go.
OTTTD is indeed pretty over the top. With a slew of monsters in all shapes and sizes (from robo-tanks to sharks and back to zombies) and a ton of different ways to play, this is a tower defence game with a ton of options and versatility. For the strategy gamer looking for another decent TD game, this is definitely a top pick.