The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Double Fine Productions has spent the last year trying on various
hats. Each of its recent games has branched in a new direction. Trenched
is no exception. Mixing a standard tower defense formula with an
unusual and imaginative twist on the mechanized shooter, Trenched
manages to eke out a lot of charm and humor. The gameplay is pretty
solid as well, with constant action and a lengthy campaign. It’s that
same length that starts to reveal the title’s repetitive nature, and
later levels expose some questionable balance decisions.
game’s name comes from a twist on the familiar mech idea. You pilot a
mobile trench – a walking tank crowned by a sandbag trench that manages
(somehow) to keep your pilot protected from all damage. Your trench can
be equipped with unreasonable weaponry in order to fight the growing
threat of robotic TV machines out to enslave mankind. As you hammer
these dastardly foes with your machine guns and flak, you can designate
points on the battlefield to drop turret emplacements to aid in the
The battles come fast and heavy – almost to a fault. With
so little time to set up your emplacements and collect scrap (money),
you always feel like you’re behind before the waves even start crashing
in. There are a huge variety of weapons, emplacements, and trench
loadouts to choose between – a growing list of customization awaits
after every mission. It’s a very cool feature, but it’s easy to get lost
in all the weapons. Even with recommended weapon types for each battle,
I still found myself out of my depth more than once because of poor
choices during loadout.
Nearly every fight comes down to the need
to defend a particular location from destruction. It can get old, even
if the intensity never lets up. Unless you grind through battles
repeatedly, expect more than a few mission failures. Many battles are
balanced to be very challenging, which adds to the frustration.
single player can be a slog through some missions, the game is helped
tremendously by a fun four-player online cooperative mode. The addition
of other trenches on the battlefield helps to even the odds, and the
added flexibility of weapons makes a big difference.
A lack of
variety notwithstanding, Trenched is an action-packed and amusing
variation on the tower defense paradigm. If you’re open to some mission
replays and a little grinding, Double Fine’s latest effort could be
worth a look.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.