The Quintessential Tower Defense Game - Candy Disaster Review

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Some game concepts simply defy explanation. Take Candy Disaster, a spin on the tower defense genre, for instance.
This game sees players step into the role of Jick, a spacefaring scientist-slash-gun-for-hire. At the game’s outset, Jick is hired to track down hundreds of super-special pieces of candy that have inadvertently been scattered across the planet due to a lab accident. The problem is, this specific planet has not been properly colonized yet, and the tribal inhabitants have discovered the joy of a sweet tooth. So Jick must put his big brilliant scientist brain to work, creating and laying down deadly traps to prevent the locals—not to mention their various pets, such as dinosaurs, giants, and at one point, a freakin’ yeti—from getting their hands on your delicious candy.
This is the point in the review where a more imaginative critic might begin breaking down how the “candy” in Candy Disaster is actually a metaphor for capital; how the various spike-, hammer-, and shuriken-based traps you lay down represent debt, incrementalism, and the various other means that those in power rely on to prevent meaningful change; and how Jick himself stands in for the iron hand of American oligarchy that will forever hold us down unless we, like the tribesmen in the game, band together and attack as one, in solidarity, tearing down the bourgeoisie and finally, irrevocably, taking back the candy that we are owed.
Me, though? I just think it’s a pretty wacky, inexplicable setup for a rather fun game.
Though it fits into the tower defense genre, Candy Disaster would better be termed as trap defense. Not unlike the excellent Orcs Must Die games, your primary way of disposing of enemies here is by setting traps into the walls  and floors of the mazes that enemies are making their way across. And this focus on traps rather than traditional towers provides room for a lot of inventive options for disposing of your foes.
To provide a few examples: Let’s assume you’re in a map that has a huge rush of smaller enemies all at once. Your best option there might be to lay down spinning blades, which take up two spaces but hurt all the enemies that pass through in a consistent area-of-effect damage pattern. Maybe you have smaller numbers of opponents but they walk past a body of water? In that scenario, you can lay down floor panels that will launch them into the water, or grabbers on the wall that will pull them to the water’s edge, then drop them in to drown. You can even use a comically large boxing glove to shove enemies back, giving yourself more time and potentially earning more damage from whatever trap you push them into.
Between the traps and the goofy character models, Candy Disaster gives off the manic energy of a Saturday morning cartoon, which fits perfectly into this type of game. Even when I was struggling to progress past a particularly challenging level, the light mood kept me from getting too frustrated. And when I did finally overcome those tough areas, I felt a sugar-rush as if I had snuck a bite of some of that candy for myself.
Candy Disaster also benefits from keeping proceedings fresh by constantly changing things up. This happens both with the regular introduction of new enemy types that often require revising your tactics from map to map, and with the gift of new traps at a rate of one every level or so. Across hours of playing, I never once felt like I didn’t have either a new toy to mess around with or a new challenging foe to figure out how to conquer. This sustained sense of novelty feels particularly rare and commendable for a tower defense game, a genre I love but often find myself sticking to the first successful pattern I nail down.
There’s tons of content to keep you busy here, as well. The campaign features several dozen levels, and each of those levels has its own hard mode. And then on top of all that, if you’re really feeling confident, you can switch over to “Smash” mode, an even harder difficulty setting that can be applied to any level in the game. I haven’t been able to survive one of the Smash levels yet, but if you think you’ve got what it takes, good luck and godspeed.
So what all of this comes down to is that, mystifying story setup aside, Candy Disaster is in many ways the quintessential tower (er, trap) defense game. It’s cute, it’s relatively smooth to get through the levels on normal difficulty, and it has tons of more taxing content to keep hardcore players invested for a long time. It’s also available in a free, ad-supported version or for a very reasonable $4.99 if you’d prefer to skip the ads. If you’re into this type of game, there’s not much more you could ask for.
Except, perhaps, for the true share of candy that you deserve in exchange for your labor.
SCORE: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
PLAY IF YOU LIKE:
• The Orcs Must Die series. While any tower defense fan will find lots to enjoy in Candy Disaster, the focus on traps means it compares most directly to the Orcs Must Die games—albeit without the ability to control a character and attack enemies on your own.
• Taking the first step towards getting power and women. That’s just how it is in America.
💬 Now we want to hear from you! Leave a comment with your favorite candy! Would you set traps to protect a Butterfinger? Or is only Starburst good enough for you? Let us know!
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