EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
NOW HEAR ABOUT MARS SOVIETS
Tower defence games have never really bowled me over: they contain typical RTS elements that I appreciate, such as base building and resource gathering, and I can see how they would appeal to a defensively minded player. But I’ve always found them too static, as by only defending, they only fulfil one small part of a normal RTS. However, the idea of a tower defence fits certain narratives, and whatever genre, I always appreciate when a game does something well. And Doorfortyfours MarZ Rising does tower defence extremely well.
The first human colony has been established on Mars, but the colonists are attacked by zombies wearing the garb of Russian cosmonauts from the 1960s. Upon investigation, a series of Soviet structures and a number of strange monoliths are uncovered on the planet. You and your team are sent to Mars to analyze these monoliths, to determine how those Russians got zombified and just generally work out what the ef is going on.
The typical level starts with you landing in a small area, where you must build generators (to power your structures) extractors (to collect building resource) and turrets (to blast them zombs). Sounds fairly typical right? MarZ Rising's true difficulty lies in the ‘Crewmen’ mechanic: you can build as a big a defensive network as you want really, but you only have a limited number of crewmen to man those structures. After the first few levels, you won’t have enough to defend all fronts at once and collect resources as well. This means you have to prioritize and think on your feet, sacrificing resources to save one front, or a crewman to save your extractor.
A radar indicator tells you when a wave is complete, or counts down to another wave beginning. This allows you to very quickly sell turrets on one end of the map, then use the resources to build on the other. As the generators can only power structures close by, you’ll find that the most trouble doesn’t come from a horde of zombies, but from the one zombie slipping through your defence, as you’ll have to send a crewman (from somewhere they are vitally needed) to deal with that zombie on foot. All of these aspects make it a very fun yet challenging game to play.
While playing MarZ Rising I had to remind myself that it was an early access game. It lacks a good deal of customization and could use a few more base buildings, but the central game, the artwork and the cut-scenes feel so polished already. It has a narrative that (while nothing incredible) does succeed in building tension and complementing the tower defence format. It also doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard, the characters are fairly grounded, and not just constantly wise-cracking or trying to be super meaningful. At the moment, the game only consists of the main story, but when that main story is done so well, I feel like you don’t need a million playable options. Especially as I’m sure Doorfortyfour will introduce a survival mode later on.
It’s so satisfying to play a game, that while not revolutionary or ground-breaking, is just a quality, solidly built addition to the genre. If tower defence or RTS is your bag, keep an eye on this one.
There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.