A Surprising Hybrid
Neocore is not a huge or particularly well known studio, based out of Hungary and cranking out smaller PC games such as the recent Van Helsing series, or the earlier King Arthur games. In each case, it’s been clear that they’re comfortable with more of a top down, action/RTS view in the vein of either StarCraft or Diablo. Well, with two big inspirations like that, someone over there must have decided, “Why can’t we make a game that does both?” And thus, Deathtrap was born, and it’s unexpectedly good.
Diablo Meets Plants vs Zombies
This is a spin off to the Van Helsing games, only insofar as it makes reference to the ink realms featured in that series. Otherwise, the game is its own beast, with players choosing one of three characters to play through a campaign that is one part Tower Defense and one part action RPG. It seems crazy to mix Plants vs Zombies with Diablo, but then someone mixed Plants vs. Zombies with Call of Duty and that multiplayer game actually worked. This action-RPG tower defense game does too.
The game works the way you’d expect of any tower defense game; you have a grace period at the start of the round where you run about laying your traps in anticipation of a horde of monsters slowly making their way to your home base. Once that’s done however, you start the wave and the monsters come while you, in Diablo-style, run to the monsters frantically clicking your attacks to help your towers along in killing enemies before they reach—and destroy—your base. This could have been horribly unbalanced, but it isn’t.
The most surprising thing about Deathtrap is the amount of depth the game has. Veterans of both PvZ and Diablo are going to find that Deathtrap handles both genres in a substantial way. On the tower defense side of things, there are a large variety of towers, they can be upgraded, and they have different kinds of damage based on elements and method of delivery. On the Diablo side of things, all you have to do is open up the character sheet, and everything from the inventory the combat interface will be familiar to veterans of the series.
"The most surprising thing about Deathtrap is the amount of depth the game has."
As a first attempt to make a hybrid of these two genres, the game works incredibly well. Despite its complexity, the game is highly recommended for people new to the genre. The ability to run around the map and attack creatures directly keeps the pace hectic, while the slow, methodical march of invaders ensures that strategy is still important, especially with the different types of attacks, resistances and behaviors the monsters exhibit.
There’s also quite a bit of multiplayer to this game. One to four players can compete cooperatively, or, for something different, there’s also a competitive mode where one side plays as usual while the other controls the monsters, even able to take individual control of monsters to really screw up established strategies.
Deathtrap isn’t a perfect game; by tower defense veteran standards, it’s a bit on the easy side, though that makes it a great introduction for newbies. There’s also some restriction on the placement of towers since the game only allows players to build on established “hard points” thus taking out some of the strategy that would be present in a game where players could determine placement anywhere they liked. Those nibbles aside however, this is a brave experiment that actually works. There’s lots of tactical possibilities, lots of leveling, and, a good deal of content. At $22, it’s a little on the pricey side for a PC game by today’s standards, but it’s a fun, substantial game. For console players, the good news is that there’s an Xbox One and PS4 version of the game on the way at some TBA date, so even Pixeljunk Monster veterans can see what all the shouting’s about with this game.