Kaiju Panic, from indie team Mechabit, is a real-time tower defence game. Following the impact of a series of meteorites across the world, strange never-before seen Kaiju have begun amassing near the impact sites. These meteors are also having a mutagenic effect on the Kaiju, transforming them into more powerful and devastating foes.
You are the commander of an international response team charged with rescuing as many civilians as possible while both staving off the marauding Kaiju as well as recovering their constituent parts to aid in further research in order to defeat them.
In order to stave off the onslaught, you have command of an orbiting distribution platform that can drop defensive structures to a location, purchased using recovered shards of the downed meteorites. These are extracted by placing processors in their direct proximity, much like the Command & Conquer refineries.
Each area has two types of mission; recover and extract. During the recovery phase you must locate and recruit members of the public while protecting your headquarters from increasing waves of enemy Kaiju, and with over 40 different enemies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, planning how to defend is the order of the day. To achieve this, you are given advance notice of the direction and type of Kaiju attacking. Extraction missions are the final big showdown for each district, with a shuttle on a set timer inbound to rescue all the civilians you have managed to save and will typically feature a Super Kaiju such as Chibizilla.
Much like many mobile games, each round has a scoring system linked to additional challenges that can be accomplished during a round, such as protecting all high value buildings in the area, collecting ceremonial masks, or even activating pentagrams in the correct order. Accomplishing these also typically rewards you with additional meteorite shards, so it benefits to attempt these supplemental requirements.
The story, such that it is, is conveyed using storyboards and traces of the humour Mechabit have infused into the game bleed through into these sections. This is further exemplified when in the Kaiju Lab, where you can read the humorous and informative analysis on the Kaiju you have encountered, along with the profiles of the 180 plus civilians you will encounter throughout the game.
The Lab also serves to provide you with research capabilities, allowing upgrades and purchases for the defenses you can build under the Cannon, Acid, Laser, Explosive and Utility tech trees contained within, encompassing the 19 different orbital drops at your disposal. It also houses your Commander skills, that convey a range of perks and buffs to make the battle that much easier such as the increased building health, unit health, shard pick up range and even an orbital strike that can do mass amounts of damage to the invading beasts. All of these are purchasable using the research points that drop from defeated Kaiju.
Graphically, Kaiju Panic is very simple and characters appear one part playmobile, one part cannon fodder to create a very unique style. These characters serve further function and provide additional depth to the game. As you collect the civilians in the area, they follow you around and approaching constructions will have them aid in its manufacture speeding up the development time. They will also repair any damaged structures in the environment, excluding the HQ itself, but their main function lies with the defensive structures. approaching these allows you to staff the weapons with civilians, each of whom have their own particular buffs and advantages; some give greater range to the weapons, some repair it from within, and some even convey specific damage types such as fire or acid to the weapon. Balancing the need for increased damage output and range with the ability to quickly throw up more structures is a further critical mechanic you have to keep in mind as you progress further into the game.
One of the key frustrations I found, was when encountering new Kaiju. Some are vulnerable only to specific weapons, and until you have killed one to obtain research on them, it is impossible to predict what will and won’t work. With that in mind, you can find yourself out of resource and with the wrong defensive strategy for several fights as you try to work out which attack method will work, and as the range of structures available increases level upon level, this does mean there is an increased likelihood that you will apply the wrong tactic.
This can become quite frustrating, especially when you clear all but the last wave of enemies, only to be overrun and destroyed at the 11th hour.
Kaiju Panic is an extremely well polished, amazing and above all fun game, that straddles the boundary between a pick up and play game style and more in-depth strategy management. Those looking for something a little different, or have a hankering for a decent strategy game will be able to take a lot away from this title.
Thanks to Xbox and Mechabit for supporting TiX
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