Here there be Tower Defense discussion

I’m drawn to TD games in a way that only my steam library can explain. These games get minimal attention here on QT3, so I thought I would put together a thread where we can discuss all the TD games out there & also be a good catch-all thread for any new games that come in the future. I’ll provide links to the QT3 discussions that I’m aware of so this can be a one-stop TD thread.

There are several variants on the TD genre, including RPG elements, ability to shape paths, first person and even some interesting attempts at coop and/or multi-player.

For me, my entry into tower defense was Desktop Tower Defense and I played it for many years.

Here are some of the standouts:

Orcs Must Die series: Visceral first person with imaginative physics based traps which dismember, squish, pummel and scorch orcs of many shapes. With a great coop in OMD 2, this series is a wonderful take on the first person TD genre.

GemCraft is more traditional in allowing you to create your own paths - with a slightly different take on towers, using melding of different gems to create new and more powerful tower types provides an upgrade-ability to towers that is not to be matched. The only downside is once you get to a certain level and have unlocked certain gems, the game becomes rather easy if you know the combinations to employ.

Kingdom Rush series is my current favorite. With no ability to path, the tower and enemy creeps are so imaginative, it provides a lot of entertainment in applying all the different tower upgrade paths and hero abilities to find that right combination.

Plants vs Zombies: What an awesome Tower Defense experience. I played this more than any other game, clocking in over 360 hours alone on this one.

Honorable Mention:

Dungeon Defenders: A wonderful coop experience, it can really test your ability to handle the creeps while trying to coordinate with other people.

Bloons TD: This has some very creative tower types, and an endless number of maps. Instead of creeps, balloons are attacking you! It’s a nice time waster.

Sanctum: This is a first person with ability to shape paths as well. This is very challenging and has coop as well.

Unstoppable Gorg: This is a planetary TD game with towers in orbits which requires a different way of thinking as the towers rotate while creeps go through. It also has one of the most adorable and creative stories / campaign than any other.

Dungeon Warfare: This is a retro 8-bit looking game. While it has a lot of traditional TD elements (top down, pathing) it also has RPG elements for upgrading towers and physics based on weight. The maps are varied, with some interaction allowed via non-tower things such as minecarts and boulders.
Dungeon Warfare on Steam
Dungeon Warfare QT3 Thread

Alien Shooter TD This is a really nice TD game with RPG elements. Your towers are soldiers with specialized weapons that you can upgrade. Ammo plays a huge role in deciding whether to reload or upgrade and Aliens pile up as you kill them. Very visceral and great sound. The main thread on QT3 is actually Tom’s review.
Alien Shooter TD on QT3

Other TD games that I’ll link to in this thread. Hopefully when someone else discusses them (they either weren’t my favorites or I haven’t played them yet).

Defenders Quest
Gratuitous Space Battles
Gratuitous Tank Battles
Immortal Defense
Immortal Defense QT3 thread
Prime World Defenders
Revenge of the Titans
Sanctum 2
Sanctum 2 QT3 Discussion
Swords & Soldiers
Toy Soldiers
Toy Soldiers QT3 Thread

Other general purpose TD threads here on QT3 that I found after creating this one:

There is no point in playing any other TD game after GemCraft for me. Easily the best of the bunch. Would gladly pay for a version with updated graphics and UI.

The only turn off for me was that to be truly good at it you really have to use a crafting program. It’s just too much work to try to craft the perfect gem yourself. Of course you don’t have to be perfect, I never used one, but then again, I never truly understood how to make a perfect gem by hand.

Gemcraft has a wonderful campaign - navigating a map where you choose where to go next, and you’re searching for the special unlocks so you can get different towers / gems. I could play some of the endless levels for an hour or so, but finally got bored with it. You don’t so much need one of the crafting programs - I recall finding a post by someone who gave a simple recipe which I used that was super effective. And gem bombs on the upcoming waves are imperative to enrage the waves to get more & more score. Truly a great TD experience. That witch and her black ghost minions always ratcheted up the tension. Could I kill them fast enough to survive?

Funny, while I think Gemcraft is OK, I like many of the other TD games more. I like how Unstoppable Gorg kept me engaged while the creeps come out by letting / needing me to adjust the rings. Defense Grid (the first one) with its great campaign, Plants vs Zombies for simplifying the field while still filling the game with charm and decision making.

I’m not a die hard TD player, but besides the original Plants vs Zombies, I my favorites include

Tower Wars and
Anomaly: Warzone Earth & Anomaly 2

Maybe other games do this now days, but Tower Wars was always a lot of fun for my wife and I because it gave us PvP Tower Defense and allowed us to face-off against one another. It was a alternative to playing some dota-clone in 1v1 or 4v4 with AI etc. And they were less brutally intense games than a click-heavy RTS. There was still plenty of critical thinking involved, but the game was a lot more forgiving and easy going than 1v1 StarCraft or something.

And the Anomaly series puts the player in control of the creeps, which made the game a whole lot more interesting for me than other, more vanilla TD games at the time. The developers market it as a ‘reverse tower defense game,’ for what it’s worth. Whatever you call it, it resonated with me quite a bit.

Dungeon Warfare is one of my favorites, and it’s half price on Steam right now.

I haven’t played Unstoppable Gorg, but agree that the other two you mention are great. I guess a big part of GemCraft for me is that it is so huge and there are so many ways to do things. For instance as much as I like Defense Grid, at the higher levels it felt more puzzle like. As if there was a certain way the maps were to be done. GemCraft is more like an RPG. Can’t do a level? Go someplace else and level up a bit and come back. Plus there are so many options to go about it, the game just feels more open.

Plants and Zombies 1 is probably my most played game in history (but I really didn’t like 2). Just an all around fun time-waster that shines on an iPad.

Haven’t heard of this one, will check it out.

Had never heard of Dungeon Warfare either. I feel like I strangely won’t be able to resist buying it very soon.

Besides everyone’s favorite Gemcraft, there is a freeware game I really liked back in 2008 - so do not blame me if it turns out to be mundane and uninteresting nowadays. Its name was ByteAlity Tower Defense, from Erik Leppen. I remember enjoying it a lot back then when I thought most games in the genre had already a tendency to waste to much of your time without rewarding you.
Edit: Don’t be afraid by the err… Nederlandish, I guess? website : the game is in English and fully playable.

Well, now you’ve done it. I just downloaded a tower defense game.


That looks cool!

It makes me re-frames the Dungeon Keeper in a new way and make me think that it was actually just a Tower Defence game with Tycoon-elements, rather than a unique dungeon managing game.

ps: I never really played Tower Defence games. I kind of bounced off the very original flash ones, and never got back in. I did play Harvest: Massive Encounter, way back when, and really enjoyed it. I did play Kingdom Rush on my phone – I think I just downloaded it as it was high in the charts without realising what it was, but I liked it enough to get it cheap on Steam as well.

I also own some Creeper World games, but I’ve yet to play them. I suspect I bought them as I thought they were a Dwarf Fortress style game…

I accidentally bought Unstoppable Gorg and played it for only a few minutes before realising what I’d done.

Sang-Froid is tower defence, though it’s 3d and not top down.

And wasn’t there some WWI style game similiar to Sang-Froid that was basically just tower defence? I bought that as well before realising it was tower defence.

So basically I always end up buying tower defence games without intended to, and some of them are actually quite good.

though come to think of it, Dwarf Fortress is nothing more than an elaborate tower defence game with tycoon elements… ;)

Some good iOS (and possibly Android) ones that haven’t been mentioned:

Defender Chronicles 1 & 2: A favourite of Tom’s, with fairly heavy RPG elements and, unfortunately, a lot of grinding.

Castle Doombad: Sort of a side-on Orcs Must Die, in that it’s best to chain traps together. No player-controlled character though.

Sentinel 1-4: Fairly old school design, but really well designed and with a nice curve to the metagame so you’re never really grinding but you always have something to work toward.

The Creeps: Again, very old school in its core design. The main thing this has going for it is the variety of towers and maps.

Great idea @Tman, and that’s a fine list.

I know levelling allows players to engage with the difficulty on their own terms but I’ve got say, I prefer my TD flat and find it’s at its most exciting when you’re having to think outside the box and experiment with whatever you’ve got at your disposal to overcome any challenges. In short, I suppose I prefer experience to XP! :-P

One of the reasons I bounced off Plants vs. Zombies was that I found it mind-numbingly easy; it was like chewing gum for the brain. I never really understood the appeal of it beyond the charming presentation. I dunno, maybe I need to give it another go at some point.

@kerzain oh man, you played Tower Wars?! I loved that game but unfortunately didn’t have any friends who wanted to join me at the time. The one friend who eventually picked it up couldn’t wrap his head around the defending and the attacking at the same time, which is crazy because he was an Age of Empires/Mythology, Total Annihilation and Command & Conquer nut.

Hey, if you ever fancy a game, let me know; I’d love to fire it back up again!

A few to add to this list:

Comet Crash is tower defence but with the ability to launch (massive) streaming offensive waves at your enemy. It’s kind of like Starcraft by way of ChuChu Rocket. There’s a great campaign that plays out more like a puzzle mode but key is the ability to play with up to four players locally. You can play the campaign together (which is great for getting everyone up to speed) but the real magic is in the free-for-all or team-based PvP. God I love this game, but none of my friends like TD enough to really engage with it so it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to play it properly. One of my favourite exclusives and one of few games to run at 1080p/60 on PS3 too!

McDroid (Not played this but been meaning to for a while. Looks really quirky and has online co-op.)

Not sure whether these strictly count but I think they deserve mentioning as they both feature strong tower defence components:

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves
Infested Planet

What’s Orcs Must Die 2’s co-op like compared to the likes of Sanctum and Dungeon Defenders?

@geggis re: Tower Wars

I haven’t played in about 3 years, so I won’t remember how to do anything useful.

There were several people on Broken Forum who got into the game pretty deeply back in 2012 or so. Aaronsofaer and peacedog chief among them, I think. No idea if they’ve played at all in the last few years, but there’s a thread for the game there if you want to find out.

It really was a lot of fun before my wife and I moved on to something else.

Aye, I haven’t played it in years either. I know they added a single-player ‘Meat vs. Metal’ campaign of sorts where you face off against progressively harder bots starting with a plank of wood sporting a taped on moustache and nails for eyes and ending with some top hatted cheater. That was fun in the absence of other players!

Just wanted to say it warms my heart that the original post’s mention of Plants vs Zombies excluded Plants vs Zombies 2. Well done.

When Plants vs Zombies 2 was released on android, it was pretty much a perfect game. And then they modified it to encourage the use of the tools you buy using micro-transactions, and it became a poor game. But then they kept modifying the game and adding new worlds, and tweaking the difficulty. Overall, in its final state, now that the game is over and all the levels are in the game, I’d say that it’s just as good as the first Plants vs Zombies. It has some balls-hard levels, but also some really interesting new zombies and new plants that really mix up the gameplay.

In its final state, I’d recommend that all fans of the original should download the game for free, and try to get all the way through it without paying for anything, like I did. It’s a great game, and it’s well balanced. I won’t deny that it was even better when it first launched, but what’s there now is as good as the original game, even if it’s not as good as the PvZ2 that launched.

Yeah, the Kingdom Rush games are probably my favorite of all the tower defense games. I haven’t played Kingdom Rush Frontiers yet, but I played through the original Kingdom Rush and then Kingdom Rush: Origins (which is available on mobile devices, but not PC yet).

It just feels so good in the Kingdom Rush games when you come across a difficulty level, and you think about what you need to do, and how to overcome the enemy waves thrown your way, and you implement your changes on the next run. Plus the game has got to be the most charming ever created.

I think TD’s at its best when you’re right on the very edge of the difficulty curve, looking for ways to just eke out a victory. With levelling and such I think hitting that authored and very deliberate sweet spot is much harder because the difficulty is a lot more malleable.

I enjoyed my time with Kingdom Rush but burnt out on it big time! It didn’t help that I lost all my progress because I had to get rid of my crappy Nexus 7 and none of the backups that I made worked. Drives me god damned crazy that there’s no reliable way of backing up your saves on Android devices (that I found!).

I’m a huge TD fan and have played a ton of them.

I really liked Defenders quest, probably one of my favorites. Gemcraft was good of course too.

Dungeon warfare does look like something i might buy too as one that escaped my attention until now.

I’ll add Alarameth TD to the list.

It’s unpolished, it’s graphically unimpressive and it features a campaign with a goofy fantasy story, but the lengthy scenarios, crazy hard difficulty and addictive gameplay all make it a keeper IMO.