The Last Day Defense Virtual Reality review
Now, my first reaction when being offered this game was pure excitement. I had this board game when I was a kid that I loved so much, it was very unique. Basically, there was a castle on one side, a fort on the other, and you’d place catapults and trebuchets and such on your battlements. Then, you’d lead your troops down a lane, turn by turn, to attack the enemy. The enemy would do the same, and you’d both first your siege machines at the troops and at the enemy’s castle until it all exploded.
That was my very first exposure to the concept of Tower Defense, and I’ve loved it ever since. Like I said, when I got offered this game I was really excited. Rather than a board game with old siege equipment, it was a new Virtual Reality game in some weird dystopian future. Futuristic soldiers and tanks and flamethrowers everywhere. That’s a great way to sum up the game though: futuristic tower defense in VR with flamethrowers and mortars.
As far as a tower defense game goes The Last Day Defense by ARVI LLC is really good. You get three basic options of defensive towers – Mortar Towers, Infantry Bunkers, and Turrets. Each have different effectiveness’ against the four different types of units – Infantry, Light Truck, Tank, Aircraft. Each type of tower upgrades into three distinct types of each top level unit, each with their own different levels of effectiveness versus the various enemy types.
Gameplay itself starts off easy on the tutorial table, but by the time you get to the second table (which is where most of the gifs are from,) things start ramping up quickly, with multiple lanes of approach and different waves of enemies providing a different type of challenge. A lot of tower defense games I’ve played stay fairly easy, as just stocking up enough towers and upgrading them sufficiently was enough to mow down every enemy before they even got halfway through the board.
As is par for ARVI, this game gets difficult quickly. One thing I can say about this game is that it is not one that you pick up and beat in the same sitting. I started in on the third table recently and if I could have grabbed my hair while still holding my Vive wands, I would have started ripping my hair out. Which is actually great for a strategy game like this – like I said too many make it too easy. I found myself frantically moving myself around to try to and micromanage upgrades, selling unneeded towers, and rebuilding towers that I needed for the upcoming wave… or more usually, for the current wave that is quickly creeping toward the end of the map and my UFO base.
The maps are varied, with several different biome types. I haven’t explored them all yet, and frankly I took most of the .gifs from the first two levels, as I don’t like to spoil too much. That being said, you can find more representative screenshots of the levels on the actual steam store page. They’re also quite varied in style and how the enemies approach and attack. Above you see one of the first levels you’ll play that has two spawn points, and both sets of troops actually work toward the middle, with that bridge being the end of the line.
Graphically speaking, the game looks great. The screen can get really busy, and everything still looks good. The individual models on the boards aren’t bad at all. One thing I did notice is that there doesn’t seem to be much variation in the troop types and their appearance, which could be a lack of assets, or could be intentional. The way this game plays out, it’s good to know exactly what type of troop is moving where at what time so you can plan accordingly.
Now, as good of a tower defense game as it is, I hate to say but I didn’t see a lot of Virtual Reality interactions. At first, I thought I was missing something, but at this point I don’t think so. The controllers stay controllers – you can adjust the speed of the game with them – but otherwise they’re just like 3D mouse pointers that let you select which pad to place a new tower on. Which leads me back to my first point about the old tower defense board game I used to play. What was interesting there was, as it’s all manual and in real life, you had to aim each shot manually and do it yourself. A line of enemies could be in a terrible position ready to be wiped out, but one bad shot could lose you your turn. A great shot could have you taking out your enemy’s troops in multiple areas just because the little balls you would launch would roll.
I can’t help but think that the game could have gone from good to mind-blowing great if the Virtual Reality aspect had been focused on alongside the tower defense aspects. While I’m not a game dev (yet,) as soon as I started playing I saw a few opportunities for more VR interactions. Firstly, the premise is the world is destroyed and you fly around on a UFO to these post-apocalyptic locations. I found it strange that the UFO that you see on the map isn’t your base, you don’t see the world below you if you walk to the edge of the room you’re in. Maybe they could have let us take control of the various towers and actually manually operate one, in order to use the VR aspect to gain a little more ground or be more accurate or something, while the rest of them work on auto. Even something like controlling the game from inside the map, and just using a sense of massive scale while having you stand, Infantry-sized, on a tower commanding a ship to drop and construct giant mortars that start firing. Really, adding any aspect of VR interaction would make this game jump from a good game, and great Tower Defense game to an incredible Virtual Reality Tower Defense Game.
Ultimately, it’s a game I enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy – and I want to thank ARVI for giving me these opportunities to review their games. As a reviewer though, I have to say if the actual Virtual Reality interactions of VR are important to you – this game could be lacking. It’s a strong and difficult Tower Defense game, the strategy is engaging, there are plenty of tables and maps and overall a great amount of content for the purchase price. I still can’t help feeling, as I’ve said, that it could be so much more with more Virtual Reality presence.
For $19.99 though, any person who likes tower defense games would be silly not to give The Last Day Defense a playthrough. As the game is Early Access according to the steam page, they have a lot of updates planned as well, including Multiplayer, Mini bosses, more tower types it seems, as well as more troop types. They also mention more interaction, so they may already be working on further VR interaction like I mention. I’m looking forward to their updates.
The Last Day Defense on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/813670/The_Last_Day_Defense/
Thank you to ARVI LLC for the game! You can find more from me, crimsonBZD at twitch.tv/crimsonBZD , twitter.com/crimsonBZD , and on Instagram!