I’d consider myself something of a tower-defence aficionado, I love the genre and have played a hell of a lot of versions of it, and while they can often differ quite substantially there are certain commonalities. Unstoppable Gorg throws most of those out of the window and offers a genuinely unique take on the classical formula.
The initial concept sounds simple: tower defence, except you’re protecting a planet and your towers are satellites. As such, they can be repositioned, but only in the orbit they’re initially put down in. Different levels offer different numbers of orbital rings, each with a different numbers of slots for satellites.
So far, so simple: tower defence but I just have to re-position my towers from time-to-time. In fact, that’s how the tutorial heavily suggests the game should be played. But if you attempt to play it that way, you’ll be overrun by aliens as early as the third level. See, the tutorial omits one essential piece of information: towers can fire while moving. It may not sound like much, but that changes the gameplay entirely, because to beat this game you need to move towers a lot. Not just repositioning, but picking them up and using them track and focus fire the tougher aliens as they move along the path while moving your mining and research satellites out of harm's way. This isn’t a game where you can just set up the towers and let the game run on fast-forward for a few minutes. If you’re not constantly tweaking and moving, you’re dead.
Oh, and did I mention that while you can rotate satellites around an orbit, they stay linked to each other, so moving one satellite on an orbit will move all the others too. In practice, this means repositioning one will then knock your others out of place. And of course, different satellites are best for different enemy types, there are bombs that affect all aliens on-screen, and to get the best medal for each level you need to make sure no aliens get through, that your research and money are maxed-out and that none of your towers are destroyed. As you may be starting to gather: this is not an easy game.
That in itself shouldn’t be a flaw: there are four difficulty levels, but played at normal the game is very, very tough. But the easier difficulty setting is so simple that it’s barely worth bothering with. Something in between would have been appreciated, as while I enjoyed the challenge, I found myself only being able to manage one or two levels per play session before needing to give my brain a rest and play something a little less stressful. This is not one of those casual tower defence games that the whole family can enjoy.
The easy mode does, however, serve one purpose, and that’s to let you enjoy the wonderfully stylised b-movie plot, told with cut-scenes between levels that play out through old newspaper articles and black-and-white TV broadcasts. It’s a genuine 50s-pulp aesthetic that hasn’t been done in games for ages. The sound effects are similarly retro giving the game a wonderfully silly feel.
On-top of the lengthy 21-chapter campaign (with four difficulties and the extra task of getting all the medals on each level) there’s a challenge mode which offers the same levels with different restrictions (such as only building a limited number of satellites) and an endless arcade mode, so it’s not a game you’ll run out of content for quickly and at £6.99 on Steam it’s pretty good value for money. One could easily imaging lesser companies shearing off the challenge mode and selling it later as DLC.
For tower defence fans that are looking for a more action-based challenge this is definitely worth picking up, but those who are drawn to the more strategic element of the genre then there’s a lot less on offer.
Unstoppable Gorge is available for PC on Steam and iOS on the AppStore
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