by Matthijs Knebel
previewed on PC
The Tower Defense genre has gotten a little stale recently but Marz Rising, a Tactical Tower Defense game developed by doorfortyfour, is looking to change that. A lot of thought was put into this game - what we saw was an incredible feat for a two person development team.
The goal in Marz Rising is to clean up Mars which has been overrun by zombies. This isn’t just another one of your typical Tower defense games though, things have been changed up quite a bit. The team combined the mechanics of a normal tower defense game with that of a real time strategy base builder. This resulted in a game where you have to pay attention to both logistics and strategy instead of just frantically placing towers all around the map hoping to stem the invasion.
Men vs. buildings
When starting a new level, the first thing you need to build are energy hub as they are key to your expansion. Starcraft fans will recognize this mechanic as similar to how the Protoss use pylons to increase the size and power distribution of their base. In Marz Rising, each energy hub can provide four buildings with energy. The next step is to gather resources to build the much needed defensive turrets and other buildings that will help you exterminate the incoming zombies. All defense towers and buildings need to be manned to function. There is a limit to how many men you can employ and you are unlikely to be able to man every building all the time.
This is something I haven’t previously come across in a tower defense game, so this was a welcome surprise. What it means is that when you are getting attacked, you really need to scramble and place your soldiers strategically in turrets that are under threat. You cannot sit around and wait for the turrets to do their job but have to actively manage your defense to survive the incoming waves of zombies. As you move on in the level and your base has grown a bit bigger it will be harder to manage because the amount of buildings and the limited number of soldiers grows further out of balance.
Marz Rising looks to have a pretty good learning curve where new concepts are introduced within the levels and every wave is a tad more difficult. Your base will get bigger and harder to manage and the waves will be bigger, come more frequently and increase in strength. Placing certain buildings will unlock new buildings and research options. If you are in a bind you can call for reinforcements. This sounds like the easy way out but there is, of course, a downside. Reinforcements don’t magically appear on the map but take some time to arrive and they only stay for a short time before they are called back to their own base to battle their own zombies.
You complete a mission when you survive the last wave of zombies and there is at least one building standing. Do well in a mission and you will be awarded a bonus perk that will help you in future missions. In order to get these bonus perks you need to gather the monoliths which are spread across the maps, keep your crew alive, and fix the mars lander. We know that the monoliths are part of the overall story but doorfourtyfour was tightlipped about their significance. What we do know is that the perks will make the levels a bit easier to play. If you haven’t gathered the perks at every level, the last levels of this 20 level game will be hard though not impossible to win.
Marz Rising’s graphics edge towards realism, with deep and warm colors that represent the surface of mars and near-future looking buildings that make up the base. There isn’t much detail in the objects or in the map itself, but that lack of a highly detailed environment makes it easier to distinguish between different buildings. I found it gave me a good overall view of the base even when things heated up.
What I have yet to reveal is that the two person team is actually a married couple and they looked far more harmonious than the zombie onslaught in their game. Marz Rising is a great way to team up and create together and the result looks to be a breath of fresh air in the stale Tower Defense genre.