Coffee Stain Studios‘ Sanctum is a merge of tower defense games with first person shooters for the PC. The combination fits pretty well together. This PC game available on steam also supports multiplayer to boot. So grab your gun, place a turret and lets get this review going.
The way Sanctum works is between waves of enemies you will have the ability to place turrets, blocks, and purchase guns or just upgrade the ones you have. To do this better you also can check an encyclopedia to see what the next waves enemies are weakest against. That way you can tailor your turrets to face the new oncoming threat. All of that is to protect a core that does not heal between waves. When you defeat a wave you get some cash to spend on more turrets, guns, and upgrades.
Now you’re probably wondering how this game differs from any other tower defense game. Well you won’t be placing towers on the playfield like some overseeing god, or constructing them during an attacking wave. You do that between waves by walking around and choosing the square of the grid you would like to change. Placement is pivotal in this game. The enemy will take the shortest path possible to get to your core. Once you’ve spent all the money you want to spend, you are ready to start the wave. Once the wave is called you run around the map shooting the enemies, hopefully in there weak spots and assist the turrets. You won’t take damage from the enemies but they will knock you out of their way which stuns you. Your guns have unlimited ammo, but do overheat so you have to watch the percentage and lay off the fire a bit from time to time. Just to let the heat level go down.
All this makes for very strategic gameplay and forces you to think about where you’re aiming and when to hold your fire. Being able to squeeze between certain sections on the map that the enemies can’t as well as teleport pads can quickly move you back ahead of the pack once they have passed you. The game currently has three maps/levels with a fourth on the way, Mine, Bridge, and Arc with more coming “Glade” being the next. In single player you’ll face 20 waves on Mine, 25 on Bridge and 30 on Arc. These are not easy levels, well I didn’t find them easy. But part of the fun in these levels is that when you build your turrets and blocks, you create a maze to force the enemies to walk to get to the core. I found this incredibly fun, but as I’ve stated before I do like a good maze.
The game also has multiple difficulties, so if it seems like your just not up to the particular difficulty you chose, try easy. I think that is what I should have done first time around. Now on to the other big aspect of the game multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode is Co-op and can be played with endless waves to any stage you wish. With two difficulty levels to choose from the game play remains the same. You and the other player each have your own resources and upgrade towers as you choose or your weapons. I found the transition into multiplayer quite smooth, although it does appear that the player who is not the host does tend to suffer some lag. Outside of that it is a nice addition working as a team and to make it more interesting the difficulty ramps up faster in multiplayer mode than single player. To me it kept the games balance very well. Also any player who isn’t the host can jump in and out of the game as long as the host keeps the game public and doesn’t quit the game.
In the end, the game has steam achievements as well as a leaderboard for the competitive types. Visually the surroundings are pretty, even if the enemies and stage itself is a little less than impressive looking. The game has definite replay ability, it’s all around fun with a side of how did I screw that one up.
Sanctum will also be receiving various free updates throughout the year. The next update/DLC is scheduled for this upcoming week. Some future updates are the ability to play 4 player multiplayer and another is a level/map titled “Glade” to play on, I’m not sure if the 4 player update will be available in the next update, but the map seems to be a part of it. Also a demo version of the game will also be released for the curious purchasers.
Overall this game is a 4 out of 5. It’s pretty tough and if you dislike tower defense you probably won’t like it, but once that demo is released I definitely say try it. I think the game is a perfect blend of the two genres. So if you like both FPS’s and Tower Defense games, I think you’ll like this game.
Final Score: 4/5