We checked out SMG Studio’s Over The Top Tower Defense title (OTTTD) last month and were stoked about its unique take on the genre. With an impressive melding of traditional TD and action-RPG elements, all of my expectations as to what it had to offer were happily exceeded. Indeed, OTTTD [$4.99] not only takes tower defense to a gameplay depth rarely seen for the genre, but it does so with ease, making this an awesome and refreshing update to the classic genre.

At its core, OTTTD is tried-and-true tower defense with an impressive action-RPG layer on top of it. You have your typical selection of basic towers that can both be upgraded in strength and transformed into ‘advanced’ towers that offer different perks like anti-air specialties, exceptional range increases, and so on. Most of the maps also fall into typical TD archetypes, although I really enjoyed the boss maps, which offer a pretty unique twist to boss battles beyond the usual big bad guy slowing rumbling to the end point (which, in OTTTD is the destruction of your base). The tower defense portion on its own is pretty standard, but it’s balanced well compared to its IAP offerings and I really enjoyed its emphasis on less waves that have more enemies.

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Where I think OTTTD really shines is with its hero system. After a few tutorial missions, players can choose up to three heroes to accompany you on a TD map. Now, heroes have been implemented well in TD titles before (Kingdom Rush comes to mind), but it’s never been done at such a grand scale. Each hero is pretty unique, and they have a lot of special skills only available to them. For example, the Engineer has a host of repair and temporary tower upgrades available to him while the Saboteur has a host of mines at his disposal. Heroes aren’t restricted to paths either, so you can set your Recon sniper up in the middle of the map while you can micromanage your other soldiers into the thick of battle. There’s a total of seven heroes to unlock and map tactics can change drastically depending on who you take into battle.

To add even more complexity to the hero system, each has a total of sixteen different abilities (some passive, some active) that can be unlocked by spending skill points earn via level ups. In addition, heroes can only take two active skills into battle, meaning that players will have to choose which of the half dozen to not only select, but also to invest in upgrading. Choosing between investing in your Recon’s sniping abilities via range and damage increases, or focusing on upgrading his active abilities which can offer some impressive long-range damage output become meaningful questions. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, each hero has their own tree of weapon unlocks which not only increase overall damage but can also change the type of damage done (tying back to certain passive skills that upgrade certain damage types).

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There’s a dizzying amount of options within OTTTD and they’re all pretty easy to understand and upgrade. Most TD titles focus on the journey of jumping from map to map towards completion. With its impressive depth, I’d argue that OTTTD puts just as much emphasis on hero cultivation and customizability. Sure I want to unlock and check out new maps, but I care just as much about replaying older missions simply to unlock and upgrade new skills. It all leads to a TD experience that’s far deeper than the majority of the genre offerings on iOS.

Then there’s the combat and presentation itself, which is truly over-the-top. Story snippets are rife with humor, all aspects of the game exude a futuristic vibe which I enjoyed, and the actual battles against waves of enemies are incredibly gory to the point of hilarity. Every alien enemy explodes into bits and pieces that get littered across the battlefield and stay there for the duration of the map. One particular hero skill set even makes those giblets explode, dealing additional damage to enemies around it. Clean battlefields quickly give way to a new meaning to the term “guts and glory.” One minor complaint with this approach is that it does become hard to see tower/hero health as well as paths and even enemies once the map has had a few waves. However, I think it’s all worth it.

Other than the above minor issues, my concerns with OTTTD are few and far between. A tutorial outside of the missions and the ability to see the names of potential advanced towers before upgrading them (at this point you kinda have to memorize the pictures and what they do) would be nice and can easily be added. Otherwise, this is such a deep and unique take on tower defense that everyone really has to check it out. In my view there will always be room for awesome takes on traditional TD games but I hope developers take note because OTTTD proves that the genre can be improved in an awesome way while still staying true to its roots.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • theopla

    Yay!!!! 4.5/5 Great review!!

  • Jake7905

    "Sure I want to unlock and check out new maps, but I care just as much about replaying older missions simply to unlock and upgrade new skills. It all leads to a TD experience that’s far deeper than the majority of the genre offerings on iOS."

    It's a good tower defense game, and well worth 4 stars, but having to grind for upgrades doesn't make it a deeper game. That was my main gripe with OTTTD, the need to grind to upgrade and progress.

    • Based Xatu

      The game needs some extra objectives to promote replays, but I'm sure that will come.

      I love this game, it's my favorite TD game, ever. Characters are bright and goofy and you actually want to watch your team fight on the map. I'm impatient and I love this game, so I sprung for some of the IAP to move faster, and I don't regret it.

      • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

        Thanks mate

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      Ash from SMG here: We've had other people tell us they 3 starred every level in a couple of days and wanted more. No grinding but it was easy. The reason I mention this is that its hard for us to balance this for everyone. Grinding wasn't part of the level design but we allowed it so people can farm for XP/coins.

      We're adding more levels and modes for players who have finished. We also want levels that are fun and challenging which is why we have 20 levels to start not 100 crap ones.

  • Tonk Montana

    Finally some review love for this great game. ;)

  • Cookies

    Love the style. It's refreshing to see quite a good looking tower defence.

  • NOFX

    What?! No 5 out of 5 stars! Ha ha! Kidding. I actually really do love otttd. It's a great game and I too bought a bunch of IAP's in support of a great developer. I got it when it came out and I'm still playing it. Mostly grinding to max my characters in preparation of hopefully the long awaited update with new over the top characters, weapons and hopefully consumables! Please give us some truly over the top consumables! With all the grinding and IAP's I'm sitting on a ton of gems and money. Otttd and man at arms have made my year!

  • Himmat Singh

    Nah, too IAP heavy for me. After playing 75% of the game (i.e. 15 out of 20 levels), I ONLY managed to buy 5 upgrades for my squad. There are 7 members in my squad, each with around 8 upgrades that get exponentially more expensive.

    So yeah, I bought only FIVE out of close to SIXTY total upgrades. And I three starred at least 7 of the 15 levels I played and even replayed a couple of them to get a better star rating.

    That, to me, is some OTT IAP implementation. Not supporting this dev anymore.

    • NOFX

      It's all about using the right soldiers and towers. I've gotten really far before buying my first weapon. You just need skill points for them. If you got to the mid boss and can three star him then you're all set. I farmed him for xp cash and gems. Once you've got the right skill points and soldiers the mid boss can be killed within seconds. IAP's are 100% not necessary except for the more casual or less skilled player. With some determination you can definitely beat otttd. The devs are on the main forum and have been exceptional in listening to our gripes and suggestions even going as far as to change tower strengths in the last update. If there's anyone to blame it'd be the guys on the forums that kept saying the missile and shield towers were too strong. The devs are fantastic and I can't wait to see what they have coming up. Give them some feedback and keep an open mind they're listening and are great people.

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      Hi Himmat,

      why do you think you should unlock everything right away? What happened to choice? I remember playing Diablo back in the 90s and there was always stuff I couldn't afford for my character. It made me feel that what I did buy mattered. Also we dont expect you to upgrade every hero as you should have a few faves you put your effort into.

      We're adding more levels and modes (and more weapons) and we want you to play this for the long haul. By the time we have 50 levels you'll have enough money to buy everything. But we may add other weapons to buy just so you never feel you have everything so you have some reason to keep playing. Which was my first point.

      IAP is in there for those that want everything right away (there's always people who want that). Or want an upper-hand earlier (those people too). The levels are balanced and designed for people who want a challenge and to have fun. Not to create a paywall. Check the reviews from people who actually played and you'll see this is a fair game. Levels 21-25 which we're submitting tomorrow are balanced off an average 18-20 level team. Which is what we expect people to be at when they finish the first 20 levels.

      Thx NOFX below also.

  • DaQuieTruth

    Great loved it, but it was really intense playing on my 5s. The phone got really hot in my hands especially on the last level

  • rewind

    It looks really fun. But it's $4.99.

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      Ash from SMG here: We spent 13 months working on this and we're looking at a $9.99 price for desktop release so $4.99 isn't much. I spent more than that on a iced coffee last week and it lasted 15 minutes.

  • Joser311

    $5 dollars for a game and an egregiously intrusive IAP system. You have to potentially pay money if your people die to play again in a game that you paid for. I really wish that I could get my money back.

    • https://twitter.com/smgstudio SMG Studio

      hope you decide to play further - all feedback we've had from players suggests an abundance of gems by the end game, far more than needed. we've also set it up so that if every hero is dead (unlikely), three heroes are always revived for 0 gems so that at no point ever would you require spending just to keep playing. Weapon upgrades do come gradually but they aren't needed. Good tower placements and good selection and use of skills solve levels first and foremost.

    • NOFX

      They've cleared up this topic on the main forum. They just want players to give the other characters a chance if you've failed with the first 3 you've chosen. Sorry you didn't like the game hopefully you didn't delete it. Go to the main forums and see what suggestions are there. There's a ton of people on there giving pointers on how to beat it without spending a cent on IAP's. Give the game a chance hopefully it'll grow on you

  • https://twitter.com/smgstudio SMG Studio

    thanks for the great in depth review Eric! so stoked you enjoyed the game.

    we've been working hard on update content and we're hopefully very close to submitting it.

  • GiHubb

    My main problem with this game is the same I have with most IAP heavy games - I just don't trust them - did I fail a level because my strategy was bad or did I hit an intentional paywall and now I must grind or reach for my wallet?
    It's a shame as there is a nice tower defense game here.

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      You can buy the same game when it comes out on Steam for $9.99 with the same levels, same shop items and same hero Tempa-Death system but with no IAP. That might help you trust us.

  • TheBigBass

    Just wanted to comment that I think that

    1. This is an amazing game with lots of depth and opportunities for customization
    2. IAP really are optional in this game. I've found plenty of money and crystals/gems/whatever replaying missions and trying new things.

    Definitely make sure you check this game out. I've gotten 20+ hours of entertainment out of it for a measly 5 bucks.

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      Thanks mate. More levels, endless mode, armour + tweaks submitted Monday.

      • NOFX

        Damn! Awesome mrtruffle! I can't wait! Thanks for the heads up!

      • Hottar

        Great! Cant wait for mor content! You have created a great game at great value!

  • Torque2k

    For me, what's holding back a five-star rating is the (yes) over the top display of the dead. Reviewer pointed it out, once the field gets gory it stays gory, and you can't see what's going on in the kill zone. Particularly problematic for us geezers trying to play on iPhones.

    Otherwise, this is a great game, IAPs or not.

    • http://www.theslipperytruffle.com mrtruffle

      The next version we're submitting gives the user the option to turn off or lower the gibs. This is being submitted monday. Oh and cloud save!

      • Torque2k

        Squee!

  • runesnatcher

    Looks fantastic! I am in.

  • Firetruck94

    I'll probably get this when it comes out on steam since my iPod can't handle it.

OTTTD Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4.5