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GreatReview #120 PUBLISHED Assessed by Rating Orb E Eleanor Rigby3887 views View other Reviews

A review by
Rating Orb Zaknafein
on 27/07/11
Zaknafein`s Avatar

Villainy is in the Eye of the Beholder

Game: Villainous
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Genre: Tower Defense/Attack
Play Time: About 2-4 hours
Link: on

A game with towers, spells, and ominous opening screens. Onward!

Mixing Things Up

What's a person to do after saving every village possible, destroying each and every semi-threatening animal, and exhausting the combinations of every single tower defense game? Why, raze those same villages, of course! Breed monsters, raise armies, and generally wreak havoc on the lives of unsuspecting, helpless civilians. That's the premise of Villainous, anyway, and it works remarkably well.

Utilizing relatively simplistic gameplay, a complex system of upgrades, and enormous versatility when it comes to choosing one's strategy, this game provides enough entertainment for several hours of wholesome slaughter. Of course, once a person has exhausted the extensive upgrade tree, utterly destroyed the puny kingdoms in one's way, and, of course, collected all available achievements, there's not much of a reason to replay it. That is, as long as that person lacks a fascination with strategy or well-developed tendencies towards sadism. For those unique individuals, by all means continue on. But, for the greater population of Fig Hunter and the Internet, don't waste your time searching for non-existent treasure hordes. Like many other things, conquering the world of Villainous is only fun the first time.

Behold the evil castle in all its glory! And, uh, those pretty yellow flags.

A New Type of Tower Defense?

Starting out in the aptly named Tutorial Town, the player is quickly introduced to the main part of the game, i.e., the combat system. Given a rather small army, the player is tasked with sending out a line of durable monsters to run the gauntlet to the nearest town, whereupon they "raid" the town and return to start, to continue in an endless loop until the player gets bored or the towers populating the sidelines wipe out your last puny goblin. The game attempts to spice up this rather monotonous routine with the introduction of spells, three in total, which either heal your invaders a paltry amount or stun the infuriating towers (the duration of this stun depends on the spell you use). For someone who's supposed to be a great mage, the player certainly isn't given much to work with.

However, simply because the player isn't allowed to directly influence his mooks as they rampage towards the various castles in Villainous doesn't mean that playing this game is simple. Nor does it mean that Villainous is easy. Rather, by drastically limiting player involvement after the wave is sent out, Villainous forces the player to consider exactly what they are sending out; most of the strategy is planned out before the first goblin ventures out to pillage. In that sense, it's very much like previous tower defense games--the player's already decided on his game-plan before any action takes place. The game merely inverts the traditional idea of a tower defense, and leaves the basic mechanics of the genre intact. As I sent out my first (and only) wave against the Kingdom of Leeds, I couldn't help but feel that my monsters were the true defenders of the game, beset on all sides by villainous, indestructible piles of rock. When playing this game, I wasn't struck by a feeling of vast originality. It felt very much the same as a more traditional tower defense, like GemCraft, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

The other aspects of the game also reminded me heavily of past games in the genre. There were three musical themes, one ominous and foreboding for the introduction, one lively and energetic for battle, and one more subdued and thoughtful for the map and upgrade screens (no doubt in place to stimulate thoughts of pure and cunning evil, of course). Each one blended well with the idea of an overlord planning out his assault on various lands, yet none struck me as particularly groundbreaking. Likewise, the graphics populating the battle screen served their purpose: detailing the homely hamlet for me to attack and the various defenses surrounding it, yet they wouldn't have stood out in any other game of the same genre.

Now, these observations aren't meant to degrade Villainous's reputation as a game worth playing, and they certainly aren't a downside to the game overall. These comments are, however, intended to dispel the notion that this game is in someway inherently original, groundbreaking. I don't see Villainous as a bad game, rather, it struck me and still strikes me as a rather good one. What it doesn't strike me as is one redefining the genre of Tower Defense; instead, this game merely turns the traditional concept on its head and provides us with an entertaining experience to boot.

But enough rambling over the originality of this game. All games in a genre share certain characteristics--the fact that Villainous shares traits with other efforts doesn't diminish its effectiveness in the slightest. The game stays entertaining to the end, offering a wide avenue of upgrades to explore and various achievements to win. The game also manages to wrap up its mission of conquest fairly quickly, making this game just right for casual gameplay. It doesn't take much time to finish everything within the game, or even to master the intricacies of picking a line-up. In my opinion, that's a good thing--no one likes long wars.

As you can see, being a power-crazed maniac has its privileges.

Ending on a Dark Note

By the time you've finished with Villainous, the entire fictional world lies at your fingertips. You'll have conquered everything from Hobbiton to Mordor, and built your humble army from the ground up into a force to be feared. It's a good feeling one gets after finishing Villainous, but it's a feeling that seems absent (for this reviewer, at least) in later playthroughs. The same thrill of accomplishment simply isn't there, the same allure of conquest has faded. Overrunning the same lands with the same wave of darkness (no matter how the lineup's been switched around) just isn't as much fun, and there simply isn't enough of an incentive to continue playing Villainous as the hours wind their way into night. Still, it was a good ride, one that shouldn't be missed. I'd encourage all of you to jump on. The world awaits... in dread.

Visuals: Good
Sound: Good
Gameplay: Good
Length: Great
Originality: Average
Replayability: Average
Fun Factor: Good

Overall Score: Good

5 Commentson 3 roots

Mopman43`s Avatar
Rating Orb Mopman43 14 United States CholericPhlegmatic 3C 0F
7 years ago | (1)
Nice review.
Only other game I've ever seen like this is an old one called Anti TD, though there is no upgrade screen and I find it a lot more difficult in the long run.
Still, an interesting game.
Indemind`s Avatar
Rating Orb Indemind 16 United States 15C 0F
7 years ago | (2)
A new type of Tower Defense? To me, it's more like a new genre of all things. "Tower offense", anyone?
Zaknafein`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zaknafein 16 United States CholericPhlegmatic 111C 41F
7 years ago | (1)
I actually think that, although Villainous does put you in the role of the "villain", it still falls under the genre of Tower Defense because it uses so many of the conventions associated with the genre. The only real difference between this game and any other Tower Defense game is that you command the monsters, not the towers. While that is a significant difference, I'm not sure it's enough to qualify as a whole new genre, in my opinion anyway. That's why I think Villainous is merely an inversion of a typical tower defense rather than a whole new genre. But, I can see why you think it'd deserve a category of its own; I just don't think that the differences are enough to justify declaring a different genre.
Sameth`s Avatar
Rating Orb Sameth 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 79C 28F
7 years ago | (1)
A very nice review. I totally agree with you on what you said about this game being a good one, but not totally groundbreaking.
Personally, what you deem to be a good quality of taking away player control once the your troops are sent out I found incredibly annoying. Many a time I found myself bored just waiting for my goblins to die so I could play another stage. Were it not for the extensive upgrade system there would be no reason to play this game, in my view. The core mechanics just aren't strong enough.
I digress however, another brilliant review, Zaknafein. Keep up the good work.
Zaknafein`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zaknafein 16 United States CholericPhlegmatic 111C 41F
7 years ago | (1)
Thanks for the comment.

I see what you mean about it being annoying, but I think that's probably common with most Tower Defense games out there. I suppose I just saw the, uh, strategic side of things as more important than actually doing anything with my troops, since that's standard procedure for most other games of the genre I've played. But, it's obviously all about personal preference, so I don't take issue with the fact that you found it more annoying than I did, or something.

And, uh, thanks for the encouragment/compliment! It means a lot to me. And your reviews are also pretty good! :D
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