Anyone who is an avid fan of tower defense games or has wandered over to Kongregate of Armor Games in the past has stumbled across Kingdom Rush, one of the most popular TD games. Despite being over a year old, it still stands as one of the best examples of what to do “right” in the genre.
Towers and Spells
Kingdom Rush only has four base types of towers: marksmen, mage, barracks, and artillery. None of these sound all that special (you can probably imagine what they do if you’re familiar with TD games) aside from the barracks, which are the cornerstone to KR’s gameplay. The barracks building occasionally deploys soldiers to hold enemies in place for your towers to do the dirty work. Well-placed barracks and soldiers (moveable via rally points) can make or break a track clear, and they are required throughout every stage of the game.
Each type of tower has two upgrade options, and each upgrade has two or three abilities for you to level up. The abilities themselves are greatly varied between towers and they are often your reason for choosing one upgrade over another. There are very clear differences between all of your options, and you will find yourself restarting a map every once in a while simply because you didn’t know what you would be facing.
There are only two spells to use during your travels: Meteor Strike and Reinforce. Meteor Strike damages all enemies in an area, which comes in handy in emergency situations. Reinforce calls additional solders, helping to stall the enemies from making their way to your base. You won’t find yourself using Meteor Strike that often, but you will be calling in the reinforcements every time the spell is off of cooldown.
Tracks and Baddies — Oh My!
The overall layout of Kingdom Rush’s tracks are what you generally see in a tower defense games, but it does throw some curve balls your way. Some have shortcuts for baddies to take to get closer to the exit, others have special buildings you can use just for that track — it really keeps things interesting, and you often just want to see what the next area has in store for you.
The game’s baddies are varied. Some have high armor and no magic resist, others rally or heal their troops, and ranged archers (see:jerks) plink away at your soldiers. Each enemy is distinct with its own movement speed, armor and magic resist, health, and look. They all look distinct and you won’t be confusing one for another. The game’s encyclopedia also allows you to look enemies up if you’re not sure what you need to build for an upcoming wave, which is a big help when trying to build accordingly.
Bosses are entertaining as well. Instead of just being larger variations of standard baddies, they all have their own abilities for you to deal with. Nothing is more irritating than having a giant yeti freeze all surrounding buildings, forcing you to click on them to make them functional again. These unique encounters are just another small bit of what makes Kingdom Rush really stand out.
Packed with everything above is an upgrade tree for your towers and spells, and two additional modes for each map. The upgrade tree is easy to understand and allows you to reset your points on the world map so you can make the most out of the towers you will need. You WILL be resetting your points every so often to make things easier on yourself. The additional modes are simply to test your mettle and give you an extra star to spend on your upgrade tree.
Tower defense games are slowly moving away from browsers. Most released today are non-traditional and are purchased as software themselves or are found on smart phones. Kingdom Rush is proof that browser-based TD games are still alive and well, and that they can have enough polish to be well-worth playing.