Another game that Steam had on sale for some obscene discount was Gemcraft: Chasing Shadows, a tower defense game. The monsters come out on this part of the screen, you have to place gems in towers to shoot at the monsters as they walk past to the other part of the screen.
It’s the levels of customization, though, where this game really shines. You power your towers through magic gems of different types. This gem does armor damage, that gem does HP damage, this other gem does poison damage… but then you can spend mana points mix them. Create a gem that does armor *AND* poison damage and put it in a trap and then, a little down the path, have the HP damage gem hit the weakened creature from a tower and if anybody gets past *THAT*, then you can just create a gem and cast it from the heavens and hit the monster like a bomb.
There are different monsters as well, the usual mid-tier baddies, but also swarms of little weenie creatures with very few hit points but there are dozens and dozens of them so your towers can’t keep up, as well as the giant monsters with giant armor and even gianter hit points.
As you progress in the game, you learn spells like “freeze” and can upgrade your gem towers with spells like “bolt” and the game starts out easy… but somewhere around level 40 it starts getting really, really difficult and you have to leverage all of the stuff you’ve learned to this point to start beating the new maps.
On top of that, once you’ve really mastered a particular map, you can then give additional things to make the levels more difficult (and, if you beat those levels, you get more experience points). Stuff like “faster waves” or “tougher armor on the monsters”.
And, on top of *THAT*, as you go up levels, you get experience points and you can spend these experience points on a whole wealth of skills… but your starting mana can be boosted by unspend experience points. Would you rather have higher starting mana or would you rather your poison do more damage? Would you rather have higher starting mana or would you rather it be cheaper to build towers?
I can’t believe the amount of replayability this game has. If I were to complain, it’s that the graphics are a bit simple… but, heck. It’s 10 bucks (and I got it for something like 75% off). If you want really awesome graphics, spend 12 bucks on a game.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))