by Howie Howard
reviewed on PC
Some Very Ratty Business
Rats often get a bad rap. It may be true that they may have had a part to play in the spreading of the Black Death in the 14th Century, but for the most part it was most likely the poor hygiene of the human species. Pop culture such as the Disney Pixar movie Ratatouille place rates in a better light and Ratropolis attempts to do the same, placing gamers in the role of defenders of a town of cute rats.
Ratropolis is a real time, deck building, strategy game that requires the player to build a city, while at the same time defend it from marauding hoards of enemies bent on destroying the colony. The game comes from Indie game house Cassel Games. After a little bit of research, I found out that Cassel Games is a development team consists of a group of students that attend the Sogang game school in South Korea. Ratropolis is their first computer game project, but after playing through the game, I'm hopeful that it won't be their last.
Upon starting the game, the player becomes leader of a rat society that has been devastated by an apocalyptic event which has destroyed their city. As a result, a new city needs to be built and various attacking enemies need to be held off so that the rat population can thrive and the city can grow. A story of how the rat population ended up in such distress is told, indicating that rival rats started the war. And it is these rats who are the first units that attack the rebuilding city. After the enemy rats are vanquished then waves of predator mutants need to be destroyed. So, expect some thirty odd waves of attackers that need to be eliminated in order for the rat city to survive to games end. Accomplishing this task will not be easy because the attackers gain in strength after each wave has ended.
The city is rebuilt, as well as the defense of it, is accomplished by playing the cards contained in your deck. The player starts with basic cards consisting of cards that deal with the economy (which gives more gold), the replacement of killed off fighting and worker units, and cards that make fighters stronger. There are also cards that allow the building of new city facilities like houses that generate more rat workers and fighters. As progress is made additional cards are unlocked and they can be added to the deck. However, weaker cards need to be dropped to make room for the new cards. In addition to the card deck an adviser can be chosen that provides a passive special skill. This is all well and good but the problem that arises is that the game can not be paused so that a decision can be made on the best course of action to be taken. The real-time mode makes a difficult game even harder and that's not a bad thing.
What A Nightmare this rat race is
There are a lot of different elements to Ratropolis. When the game is restarted after defeat, that upgraded deck, units and buildings go with you upon restart! In addition, this is the time when new and better cards become available. The stronger cards are needed to beat the new levels upon restart. I like this approach because even though you might have failed there's no need to load a previous game save or retrace earlier levels. If gamers prefer a more difficult form of game play, the developers have added a difficulty option called Nightmare mode. It ingeniously adds replayability to the game by adding additional waves in to the mix. A session of Ratropolis can last for as long as you want depending on how well the enemies can be held off. There are boss waves that offer very impressive rewards but beating them can be so difficult that run of the mill normal rat enemies seem weak in comparison.
What A cute little rat you are
Ratropolis is a side-scrolling tower defense that is presented in a pleasing 2-D manner. The colors and graphics are adequate in that they convey the necessary feeling that war is going on. Enemy attacks take place on both sides of the city and this makes for an even more challenging experience. Game sounds really don't detract from or enhance game play much other than simply being some music playing in the background. All in all, this is a very good entry in to the deck building and strategy genre of computer games. It is especially impressive because school students are the developers and I give them a two thumbs up. This one is definitely worth playing if you enjoy games that provide non-stop action and that can get the adrenaline flowing
Lots of non-stop action and very challenging game play. Heaps of replayability.
No pause function for decision making