Sick of tower defense games yet? We all are. With the constant influx of tower defense games on the app store it’s no wonder we’re all starting to wear a little thin on the genre. Being such a new game style it’s a shame that it’s burning out so fast. Fortunately, amidst all of the “me too”s there are the occasional games that manage to stand out and remind us why the genre became so popular in the first place. Monster Mayhem by Taplay manages to shine as one such example in this vast sea of uninspired games.
Monster Cards: The bestiary is fantastic. Every time a new monster shows up on the field you are shown a card giving basic information about the new monster. Each monster has its own chuckle-worthy name that will often bring a smile to your face.
Variety of Monsters: Every enemy wave feels distinct and the amount of monsters in each wave ramps up very quickly. Some monsters are immune or take very little damage to certain attacks, while others absorb damage and send take it directly off your gate hp. This really forces the player to adapt to each enemy and treat them differently. Very nice mix up.
Bosses: Boss fights are a great challenge and very satisfying. Each boss has a set attack pattern that must be figured out in order to defeat them. It’s a nice break from the more mindless slashing and shooting found in the rest of the game.
Art Style: Following the same gorgeous art style from their previous game, Taplay has again chosen the cartoonish style that they clearly excel at drawing. Someone needs to get their artist to draw a Saturday morning cartoon show. Seriously.
Sound: The sound effects are great. From the gate closing at the start of play to the individual death groans of fallen enemies there’s a wide variety of crisp sounds to be heard.
The music is a little bit of a mixed bag. The menu music has a spooky and epic vibe to it. However, the stage music is nice, but could use a bit more variety to it. The boss fight music is probably not intense enough as well, but at least it mixes things up a little.
Continuity Nods: If you’ve played Taplay’s previous game you will no doubt notice there are some monsters that are taken right out of their previous effort. This rewards fans with a little smile when they recognize these cool characters and leaves newcomers potentially questioning why they are in the game as they definitely feel a little out of place without the context. If you are confused why there is a 3 colored block monster or a guy in a radiation suit I highly recommend you check out their first iDevice game Virus Laboratory. I have high hopes that this trend will continue in all their future games as it adds an incentive to play all their previous games by rewarding players with “hey I remember that from another game” moments that really adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience.
Difficulty: This game is an insane challenge for certain. Easy mode is by no means easy and will challenge even skilled players. I found the difficulty very enjoyable, but if you’re hoping for a cake-walk on easy mode think again.
Swipe Fest: Perhaps it’s just my style, but I found that I spent a vast majority of each play session with the knife since ammo seems to run very low very fast (and it’s a bit expensive to resupply). This unfortunately means the game usually very quickly devolves into a frantic swipe-fest to survive the onslaught of enemies.
The recent update is a reasonable attempt to alleviate this problem. The new knife swipe adds a new one as your finger drags out of the range of the initial swipe. Rather than hitting multiple enemies that bunch up as they often do, you now can drag your finger across the entire screen and it will add new swipes automatically. While this is certainly an improvement that saves a ton of finger lifting, it doesn’t solve the issue when multiple enemies bunch up at your gate. They still must be hit individually by a swipe. One swipe, one enemy. That’s still going to take a bit of work.
Despite its very minor flaws, Monster Mayhem is one of the best tower defense games produced to date. It’s nice to see that there are still some developers trying to stand out by producing highly polished nearly perfect games within this tired genre since innovation appears to be in a bit of a stand-still. Don’t miss this one, it’s a great reminder of why the genre exploded in the first place.