Placing towers on a grid-based environment to stop a horde of enemies before they reach a specific point in the map is eminently satisfying. I don’t know what it is about the tower defense genre that makes it so familiar and entertaining that once I start playing, I can’t stop until I got rid of all those waves of enemies. I know I’m not the only who enjoys playing those games (and the dozens of tower defense games that constantly crop up on mobile platforms prove my point,) so I decided to write a list with some of the best tower defense titles ever made. Which is your favorite tower defense game? What is your favorite platform to play tower defense games on? Let me know in the comments below.
10. Desktop Tower Defense
Probably the most popular browser-based tower defense game ever made, Desktop Tower Defense if both a creative and descriptive title for the game. In the game, not only do you need to place towers in a board in order to destroy waves of powerful enemies, but you also need to place them strategically to determine the path the “creeps” will follow. Sounds simple enough, but creating a deadly path of corridors to destroy the minions effectively can be challenging.
In this tower defense game, you receive gems that you need to combine to form towers. As you’d expect, combining different types of gems produces towers with special effects. But that’s not the only new element in this game, mana represent both your life and magic energy and you use it as the main resource of the game. The unique twist on the traditional tower defense games should encourage those who think have seen everything the genre has to offer.
Simple yet effective. In Fieldrunners, you can place towers anywhere on the board and the enemies will circumvent them. With a variety of modes, enemies, towers and maps to choose from, Fieldrunners is worth playing especially if you have a mobile device and some time to waste.
7. Pixeljunk Monsters
Don’t let the visual fool you, Pixeljunk Monsters is one of the most challenging tower defense games out there. Setting up towers, upgrading them, collecting coins and jewels might be easy at first, but once you reach some of the latter levels, you’ll be trying to figure out how to use the resources at hand. Note that the Deluxe version features the game, the expansion pack and new levels, enemies and towers, so make sure you get that one.
6. Kingdom Rush
Originally released as a flash-based game you could play on your browser, this little tower defense game took the world by storm and quickly received a portable version on the iPad and Android. The medieval setting, short number of towers that could be upgraded however you please, variety of enemies and challenging modes, make Kingdom Rush a game that anyone interested in the genre should check out.
5. Dungeon Defenders
Like some other entries on this list, Dungeon Defenders take some preconceived ideas from the tower defense genre and combines them with other genres. In this case, Dungeon Defenders adds third-person adventure and role-playing game elements and this new concoction kept players glued to the screen for hours. The game became so popular in fact, that it came out on pretty much every platform under the sun, so there’s no excuse not to try it.
4. Sanctum 2
This is probably the only entry on this list that requires you to have a beefy PC (or an Xbox 360 or PS3) to be able to play it. Sanctum 2 looks absolutely stunning and that’s because this is a first-person shooter with tower defense elements, so while you can set up towers that destroy a horde of incoming enemies, you’re free to roam around and shoot some of the most powerful baddies. Without a doubt, this is one of the most creative and entertaining tower defense games ever made, so if you’re fan of both FPS and tower defense titles, getting this is a no-brainer.
3. Anomaly: Warzone Earth
The Anomaly series took an already established genre and turned it on its head. Instead of setting up towers to defend your base, in this game you play as the wave of enemies that’s trying to attack (the developers called this idea “tower offense”.) Interestingly, the result was remarkably entertaining and while at its core, this was similar to the traditional tower defense formula, there were enough differences to keep players hooked from beginning to end.
2. Orcs Must Die!
Like Dungeon Defenders, Orcs Must Die! ditches the over the top view and uses a third-person perspective instead. As a war mage (a character that looks like Ash from Evil Dead,) you can place traps and use numerous weapons to fight orcs. It sounds simple enough, but taking into account that the waves of enemies become harder and harder as the game progresses, making split second decisions and choosing how you use your resources becomes important, not to mention gratifying when you win.
1. Plants vs Zombies
Leave it to PopCap if you want to introduce tower defense to the masses. In the Plants vs Zombies, you use your backyard as a grid to place plants that attack the hordes of incoming zombies before they even have their chance to eat your brain. Despite looking colorful and innocent, this game can be quite challenging during the last levels. I’d stay away from the freemium version and the sequel because those games introduced microtransactions and they ruined an otherwise terrific pace.