OTTTD: Over The Top Tower Defense Review (Switch eShop)
Tower defense games were a staple genre of PC and mobile gaming, particularly in the late-2000s/early-2010s. While they’ve somewhat fizzled out of the public consciousness and evolved into differing forms, it hasn’t stopped Aussie dev SMG Studios from bringing its 2014 game, OTTTD (Over The Top Tower Defence), to the Switch.
Taking command of HEROCORP™, your mission is to defend against interdimensional onslaughts with… well, over the top towers. OTTTD prides itself for being ridiculous, gory and quite unique. While the fundamental formula mightn’t be foreign — build towers, watch enemies get cut down, rinse-repeat — what sets itself apart from the others are commandable hero characters and a skill-based progression system. In fact, apart from the towers and the defence, playing the game feels a lot more like an RTS — for better and for worse.
Real-time strategy games are notorious for having cumbersome controls on consoles, and OTTTD, unfortunately, continues the trend. The thumbstick controls sometimes result in unintended unit selections, especially as the action ramps up against higher level enemy waves. Each tower is upgradable depending on money earned for enemy kills, and these upgrades are made in radial menus which, thankfully, work well. But there were quite a few times I’d over-shoot my aim while frantically trying to repair a tower or attribute a hero’s active attack against an enemy. I really wish touch controls were available in the Switch version, seeing as the system has a touchscreen.
That said, I did enjoy my time with OTTTD despite the controls. The blend of tower defense and RTS mechanics made the game feel a lot like a MOBA; the hero abilities, powered up towers and epic skirmishes could have been confused with a simplistic-looking Dota 2 clone. And the micro-management of tower repairs and upgrading meant I wasn’t just an observer to the massacre, as is the case in plenty of other tower defence games. Also, clicking the right thumbstick fast-forwards the action, so you don’t have to wait for slow-moving creepers to meander their way towards your traps.
OTTTD features 25 story levels, with opportunities to level up heroes by increasing their skills and upgrading their arsenal. Passive and active abilities allow you to change up your strategy on the fly, though the character’s designs were quite similar, which occasionally gave me a difficult time trying to figure out who I wanted to command (plus there were the janky controls). Still, the progression system was a nice touch and added further depth to make OTTTD stand out among other tower defence games.
As the campaign progresses, so too does the menu of buildable towers. Four main towers are the starting point in each match: a Gatling gun, a laser canon, a rocket launcher, and an electrical tower. These can be upgraded along varying branches to more powerful tiers and even fire entirely different attacks. Maintaining these towers becomes more of a test in RTS-like reflexes, and can each be buffed by heroes’ abilities. Even bases (which are the defence objective) feature tower-like abilities and upgrades.
OTTTD upholds its namesake by providing absolute carnage against waves of alien enemies — it doesn’t take long for the battlefield to be painted with blood and bones. Upon startup, the game even asks if the player wants to tone down the gore, which is considerate (for some, I’m sure). However, the game can become unforgiving in difficulty if a proper strategy isn’t devised a battle’s early-game moments, as enemy waves can become unrelenting. The game does display a countdown timer to the next wave, though; for added challenge, there’s the option to press the minus button to give the next wave a headstart if your defences are ready to go.
I had an enjoyable time playing OTTTD despite its sometimes clumsy controls and overwhelming battles. Skirmishes can often be difficult to focus on and it’s hard to make a comeback if you don’t get a good start, but matches are quick enough that starting again doesn’t feel like such a setback. And the added depth to the game’s mechanics gives players plenty of options to play with. If you’re up for a tower defence game that freshens up the formula, OTTTD might be for you.
- Deep gameplay
- Wide range of towers
-Character progression system
- Janky controls
- Gets tough if you start badly
- No touchscreen controls (yet)