Developer Frosty Pop continues its quest to port its mobile games to Steam. Right after the release of the atypical fighting card game Deck ‘Em!, Frosty Pop is now targeting the oft-forgotten genre of tower defence with Escape From The Red Planet. The premise here is simple. The Orion III ship has crash-landed on Mars. Stranded and with limited resources, Commander Abigail Blackwell must use all of her skills and resources to survive hordes of alien creatures from destroying her only source of power, a solar panel. This is all the player needs in order to prepare for twenty-five levels of surprisingly challenging battles.
The first few levels are deceptively easy. Commander Blackwell uses rechargeable solar energy to build simple turrets on pre-determined blocks on the map. She can also enter first-person mode to use a blaster to shoot the aliens and support the turrets. Solar points can also be used to increase the amounts of solar panels, which will net an increasing number of energy points as the level goes on.
While it is extremely easy to grasp how the game works and controls (especially given its birth as a mobile game, everything can be accessed directly via mouse clicks), the further the game goes on the more mechanics are introduced: standard aliens are switched for slower and stronger counterparts, bosses are gargantuan beings with daunting health bars, and flying enemies are later introduced to spice things up. Thankfully, there are a grand total of nine buildable tools, ranging from mines to quickly obliterate ground troops and walls to protect the solar panels, to giant fans to slow down airborne aliens.
If this all sounds more complicated than it looks, is because it is. Escape From The Red Planet becomes quite the challenging tower defence, with later levels leading to hectic encounters in which not a single solar cell can be wasted. The only gameplay element that is borderline broken is the first-person camera, as it automatically targets the closest enemy and often misses the mark, making for occasionally frustrating levels where quick timing and reflexes are mandatory.
Thankfully that is the only major problem, as the rest of the game works well and its minimalist graphics make for an unintrusive gaming experience. After the twenty-five levels are completed, players can indulge in an endless Survival mode or shoot at their heart’s content in Last Stand, where only the finicky blaster can be used. Escape From The Red Planet perfectly encapsulates Frosty Pop’s “pick up and play” business model, and for a couple quid, it will keep fans of tower defence games busy for a couple of hours.
A code of Escape From The Red Planet was received for review purposes.