Developer: Futuremark Games Studio
Unlike many of my fellow critics, I don't roll my eyes, reach for strong spirits or rend my garments in twain every time I hear that a new tower defence game is headed to the digital marketplace. Quite the opposite, in fact, since the genre has enjoyed a radiation and renaissance over the last year thanks to quality hybrid titles like Revenge Of The Titans, Dungeon Defenders, Orcs Must Die! and Defender's Quest. Tower defence certainly has more to give and legions of new followers to attract when married with exciting new gameplay elements, but Unstoppable Gorg is definitely one for the fans: an old-school build'em up that packs enough unique charm and dynamic features to stop the familiar mechanics from overstaying their welcome.
What's more, it's also one of the most impeccably-realised B Movie homages we've ever seen.
Chances are that you're already au fait with tower defence mechanics unless you've just emerged, blinking and gasping for air, into the 21st century after years of cryogenic stasis. The human race is under threat from the ravening Gorg, who deploy their linear fleets along preset attack routes in order to strike at your vulnerable base. To counter them, you'll need to deploy a number of static empacements which attack foes in their range, generate limited resources to spend on new towers or advance a research bar. As you progress through the campaign, more towers will be made available and limited upgrades can be assigned with unlockable research tokens. Choosing which defences to bring into each level, whether to upgrade them and where to place them are familiar concerns, and getting to grips with your towers and the Gorg menace results in a slick and evolving strategic experience.
It's standard TD fare; accessible and elegant, but definitely business as usual.
However, Unstoppable Gorg quickly unleashes its major unique selling point. Towers are placed into discrete orbits that can be rotated at will, meaning that you can change your deployment at a moment's notice. As the Gorg attack routes continually change between waves, there's no time to sit back and admire your defences as you'll need to constantly track targets and rearrange your beleaguered fortifications to avoid being thoroughly bushwhacked. It's a dynamic and thrilling addition to the genre, and one that keeps you consistently involved. Later levels introduce new challenges like limited solar energy collection, psychic enemies who lock down your orbits or hazardous asteroids, granting a refreshing change of pace to what could have been "just another" tower defence game.
Unfortunately, Unstoppable Gorg is very much reliant on trial and error as opposed to tactical prowess. Players aren't made aware of the content of incoming waves until they're already hovering along their attack routes, and since resources can only be gained from a couple of towers, placing defences in the wrong order usually means that you'll need to start from scratch. It's at odds with the dynamic gameplay: you can quickly react to cover new angles of attack, but can't easily adapt your strategy without needing to restart. Fearsome difficulty spikes, on top of a punishing base level of challenge, provides a fair amount of frustration... and does much to disguise what is technically a fairly short game. The infinite modes and multiple medals provide decent fodder for completionists, but the bulk of your time will be spent butting your head against the difficulty curve.
We like being put through our paces, though, and especially when the presentation is this good. Unstoppable Gorg is a breathtakingly lavish homage to 50s science fiction B-Movies, and the hilariously overblown story is delivered by hilariously-animated black and white cuscenes acted out by Futuremark staff (and a world-class adult entertainer, if you're excited by that sort of thing. We are.). You can see the strings. The acting is terrible. The dialogue is hammy to the extreme. And that's exactly the point. Unstoppable Gorg is a sensational, accurate and evocative experience that stands tall as a triumph of period parody.
Indeed, you'll frequently realise that you're grinding away at the tougher levels because you're desperate for the next cutscene, not because you're actually enjoying yourself. Which, I'm afraid, isn't necessarily a point in Unstoppable Gorg's favour.
We don't do half marks here at Dealspwn, and I agonised over whether to award Unstoppable Gorg a 7 or 8 for many hours. After all, we're spoiled for choice by the bevy of competing tower defence titles and aforementioned hybrid powerhouses on the market already. But the decision was made for me by the fact that the iPad version is, for want of a better word: better. You can read my full review will on our mobile sister site, Mobot.net, but suffice to say that the £2.99 price tag doesn't scrimp on quality or quantity; delivering the same experience but making rotating orbits feel much more natural and intuitive thanks to the touchscreen interface. Candidly, I can't help wondering whether Unstoppable Gorg was originally designed for tablets and subsequently ported to PC with little in the way of adaptations.
If you have a choice, the tablet version is the way to go. You'll enjoy a more tactile and immediate tower defence experience... and save yourself some money too.
- Pants-moisteningly brilliant 50s Sci-Fi homage
- Solid TD action
- Rotating orbits keeps you involved
- Too reliant on trial, error and difficulty spikes
- Little in the way of innovation beyond rotating orbits
- Better on iPad, designed for tablets
The Short Version: Unstoppable Gorg is an impressively capable Tower Defence title. While it's unlikely to convert many newcomers to the TD cause, the dynamic focus and impeccable retro style makes Futuremark's space odyssey well worth investing in.
Think carefully, however, about whether to buy the cheaper iPad version instead.