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Game Info:

Steampunk Tower 2
Developed By: DreamGate
Published By: DreamGate
Released: April 19, 2018
Available On: PC Windows, macOS
Genre: Action, Strategy
ESRB Rating: None
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $7.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you, DreamGate, for sending us your game to review!

Mankind has a knack for inventing new means of destruction. Starting with the earliest spears, human weaponry evolved from the crudest stick to the nuclear warhead. Fictional battlecraft is no different. Game creators have fantasized one ludicrously ridiculous weapon after another, yet for as impractical as they’d factually be, we players tend to not care. We just love using them. Besides, the crazy weapon itself can be a main attraction. Imagine Kingdom Hearts without Keyblades. Or Portal without a Portal Gun. Or how could the Ratchet and Clank series even function without its cornucopia of Warmongers, Groovitrons, and Sheepinators? Steampunk Tower 2, though, wants to take this concept a step further. How about controlling a battalion of super weapons simultaneously? Still, one must consider how ‘whizzbang’ violence affects those on the receiving end and consequentially, how it affects those pulling the trigger.

In Steampunk Tower 2’s classically steampunk, wasteland world there’s your basic society on one side and your radical terrorist club on the other. The gun-happy enemy troupe call themselves ‘The Cult’. Oh, and they’re set on world domination. (Who would have guessed?) They’ve already been stomping all over Europe like they own the place. You can probably guess, it’s world-saving time. The venerable Lord Bingham has given you command over their state-of-the-art battle tower. It’s a portable pillar of turrets, built to decimate infantry, artillery, and aircraft alike. They just fly it in, spear it into the battlefield, and ta-da! Your stronghold of doom is up and running.

Awkwardly enough, that’s all I’ll say about the plot. Nothing interesting happens really. Nearly all dialogue is composed of, ‘Commander! Cult is doing this! We must do this in order to beat that, so fight here!’ I seldom get bored with most stories, but I really checked out on this one. I even got into skipping dialogue without a care. Look, I know battle strategies are important in a war story, but stories need more soul than that. Relationships and personalities should be at play here. Surely, these characters can have chemistry. Surely, they’ve got needs and desires for a freed world. Surely, their pasts influence their words and actions. Right now, this story is equivalent to someone narrating a checker game. What makes this even sadder, though, is that I did a little digging on Steampunk tower 2’s website. Lo and behold, there were full-blown backstories and timelines for the characters right there. Why, oh why they weren’t fully utilized is a mystery to me. Such waste of good writing effort is baffling to me.

Steampunk Tower 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Easy to Learn; Great Character Designs; Turret Customization; Simple Fun 
Weak Points: Not much Challenge; Dull Story
Moral Warnings: Some Blood Splats; Battle Kabooms; Mild Language; Some Sensual Outfits

Thankfully, Steampunk Tower 2’s gameplay isn’t quite as bland as its plot. Engaging the enemy is simple. In fact, I think it’s sometimes too simple, but I’ll explain later. Most battles are staged in enemy waves. You can have as few as three or as many as six. Some battles, though, require you to survive for a set amount of time. Either way, cult goons will be closing in on both sides. Before entering the fight, you’re allowed to equip your tower with any turret that you’ve built from your factories (more on that later). You pre-designate which tower level they’re stationed on, and once the tower is installed, they’re ready to go. The more guns you fit in, the better. Of course, you might be wondering how one aims and fires them all. The quick answer is: you technically don’t. The longer answer is: they shoot automatically with perfect accuracy. You can shuffle turrets around and shoot supershots, but the rest is done for you. Should you survive the battle, you’re awarded with gold, ore, and mechanical parts. That’s the crux of Steampunk Tower 2. It doesn’t sound like much, and it mostly isn’t. However, there are elements that keep it from falling flat.

To further explain, I have to discuss mechanics. Underneath each turret rests two bars: a full yellow bar and an empty blue bar. The yellow bar represents how much ammo the gun has and will decrease with each shot. It refills in two ways: either automatically once emptied or manually by you at any time. There’s a benefit to both methods. Automatic refill is helpful when you’re neck-deep in enemies and can’t deal with empty magazines right away. However, manually reloading by click and dragging the turret back into the tower refills the bar much faster. Plus, you can push it out into active duty at any point. This is great when your tower is in dire need of particular firepower and can’t wait for a complete reload. The second bar, the blue one, acts opposite to the yellow. It starts empty and fills up with every fired shot. Once filled, it highlights your turret, signifying it’s ready to dish out an extra wallop. Just click and hold the highlighted turret, and then aim your supershot wherever you please. Those mechanics add some fun. However, when most fights are spent with you watching, the experience can be pretty lackluster. I often felt untested, but there are enemy and turret variances that do invoke some sense of strategy.

Turrets come in five flavors: rapid-fire machine guns, bombastic heavy cannons, zap-happy shockers, slice ‘em and dice ‘em saw launchers, and homing rockets. In turn, your enemies will attack on foot, in planes, in mechs, in tanks, in walkers, and just about anything on wheels they can attach a bomb to. Some have extra armor, making them extra tough, but all enemies are susceptible to specific kinds of turrets. It takes experience and memorization to exploit specific weaknesses effectively. I personally wish that info was accessible mid-fight. Unfortunately, it’s not available outside of Headquarters. That issue has cost me precious time and supershots, much to my chagrin. I shouldn’t gripe too much, though. Even when I couldn’t be as efficient as I’d like, it rarely derailed me badly enough to wreck me. All enemies soak significant damage from a fully upgraded turret regardless. It’s just that some guns can hit certain enemies harder than others. Sometimes, however, you’ll face bigger badder artillery. Those guys tend to require turret attacks of a particular order if you want to kill them faster. For example, you might need a cannon blast, followed by an electro-shock, then a sawblade for a finisher. This takes good timing (sometimes on your part and sometimes on the game’s part) and smart supershot use. Just make sure your skinny tower isn’t too congested with swapping and reloading turrets to inhibit the prescribed battle plan.

Of course, there are situations you just can’t help. You can’t help it when you’ve got five super walkers with five multi-armored tanks and twenty rocket launchers. You can’t scrounge up enough supershots for everybody. Some even carry equipment designed to sabotage your turrets too. Good thing, then, a couple of tricks were shoved up your sleeve. Most prominent of these is the tower laser. Once activated, this beauty shoots a glorious stream of plasma juice wherever your mouse is dragging. Few things feel more empowering in this game than directing a mega beam to cut Cult lines. However, you can only use it if you’ve collected enough steam power. Between enemy waves, you’ll see a skull icon with a timer gauge. This indicates when and where the next attack will be, but if you click on it before the gauge fills, you gain steam for the laser. Collect enough, and you’ll gain a point for later laser use. The quicker you click, the more steam you collect. Sure, that shortens your enemy breathing space, but if you’re willing to sacrifice reprieve for an emergency lifeline, that’s up to you. Granted, it is possible to exhaust your laser too. Good thing then you’ve got last-minute EMPs, ally missiles, and super bombs. Just remember that those special attacks are limited too and are only replenish-able with gold.

Steampunk Tower 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 9.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

All this certainly adds salt to dull fights, but there are a few extra special missions though. You could call them the game’s pepper. The simplest kind are the lab missions. If the Cult controls a factory that manufactures a part that can improve your weapons, then you have to fight them for it. Win, and you can order the deliveries you need before the Cult takes over again. However, there are challenge battles that are a different breed. In those, you must win the fight under set conditions. That could mean no lifelines; limited guns; lowered tower health; etc. The reward is usually a unique turret. However, for all the frustration and struggle I personally went through, I hardly felt like it was worth it. I won a couple of them, but I barely wanted to use them. My regular arsenal worked better for me at the time. Lastly are the boss missions. They basically involve a ten-thousand-ton behemoth of steel, ready to crush you under its screwed foot. I wouldn’t panic about it, though. It’s mostly just a normal battle against a bigger target. Just figure out its specific set of weaknesses and be ready to protect your turrets from sabotage. No sweat.

Okay. Now about Headquarters. Along with being the tower commander, you’ve got a second occupation in Steampunk Tower 2: town mayor. A city full of refugees, scientists, and researchers are under your care. You’ll also gain some spies later on, who will be prepped for deployment at the train station. It’s up to you to build and upgrade the residences and laboratories, as well as extend the train line. Doing everything I listed is in your best interests - not just morally but beneficially too. You need money to build guns. You need ore to build labs to build guns. Spy missions bring in ore but costs gold, and ore constructs bigger more taxable neighborhoods for more gold. Improving living conditions increases tax income. Bigger labs mean bigger guns. Longer train lines lead to higher reward missions. It’s all a tight network. This town is also where you can study up on enemy stats, repair your tower, and check your weapon component inventory. I personally like this headquarters set up. I didn’t consider it overwhelming. It’s kind of fun to collect money, ore, and parts. Plus, I enjoyed tailoring my guns according to my tastes. It let me sense I had full ownership of my tower.

The only caveat left to stunt your progress is your skill level. If not ranked high enough, you can’t upgrade certain buildings or weapons - even with sufficient gold and ore. I honestly wasn’t deterred by this too much. Like I said before, the main campaign didn’t greatly challenge me. Now, to be fair, I’m a compulsive level grinder. I take opportunities to fight for extra parts, coins, and ore. I’d thus be way ahead of the difficulty curve, and rarely did I fall behind required skill levels. Easy breezy battles were thus my common result. Now, later levels did require more investment, but even the rare fight that actually was a pain in my neck only took five tries or less to beat. I’m not saying there’s no fun in being overpowered. It’s just not that engaging. Some can argue that this was my fault. In a way, I guess that’s true. However, a game that’s unable to rebalance itself when it allows level grinding shows some shortsightedness on the designers’ part. It’s an easy detail to miss, I imagine, but it should have been taken into account.

Steampunk Tower 2’s visuals are a blend of cartoon, hand-drawn, and painted art styles. For the cartoony side, we have the turrets and the tower. They sport 2-D designs with animation that appears to be simple Adobe flash. Silhouetted mechs, troops, and aircraft look and move similarly. It’s not impressive, but it’s serviceable. Less cartoony, though, is the world map. It appears hand-sketched on aged, yellow parchment, which is quite charming. Plus, it’s easy to read and reminds me of the maps in school books I read. However, the game’s greatest artistic merit goes to the painterly character designs. They may be flat characters (both figuratively and literally), but those smooth color pallets they’re rendered in are gorgeous from their snappy clothes to each individual hair. I commend their artists and costume designers for that. The game’s music has great production value too. While the compositions didn’t ‘wow’ me much, they didn’t sound like they were faked on a synthesizer. It sounded like a genuine orchestra. However, I found the sound effects to be the most satisfying of the audible bunch. All bangs, blasts, zaps, and kabooms were very addictive to listen to. I never thought I’d write a sentence like that, yet here we are.

Steampunk Tower 2, to no one’s shock, has a violent side. That’s to be expected when running a portable gun bunker. I am thankful the turret action is as cartoony as I said, though. If it weren’t, things would have been gory. When Cult goons go boom, they go ‘splat.’ It’s silhouetted, thankfully. It wasn’t enough to make me go ‘yuck’, but it’s certainly enough to make me think it. Our lady characters sport some suggestive outfits too. It’s nothing super skimpy or revealing. However, two characters show a little cleavage in their tight-fitting, short-skirt dresses. Language isn’t fully clean either. Occasionally, d*mn, h*ll, and a** come down the assembly line, along with misuses of God’s name. I’ll also add that the Cult follow a god they call the Creator. Whether or not that’s an intended mockery of God and His Christians is hard to say. I personally don’t think so, but I guess there’s a possibility. To sum it up, Steampunk Tower 2 isn’t the grimiest thing I’ve played, but there are rust spots to deal with.

Steampunk Tower 2 has got some good gears turning here. There’s joy in dominating the battlefield and customizing your turrets. It’s satisfying to grow your town, and most players can easily learn its ways. However, Steampunk Tower 2 is far from hitting a bullseye. The enemy splattering, though downplayed, is still a bit uncomfortable. Most battles become little more than gold and ore grocery trips if you’re too skilled. (Seriously, I could take a bathroom break and still win sometimes.) Saddest of all, stereotypical and less-than-stereotypical characters sometimes crassly discuss only war banter in a boring story that quite literally had useable material right at its doorstep. However, this average game is nice enough. Not something I’d encourage little ones to play. Language and blood splattering is too prominent for my family-friendly tastes, but I can perhaps see some older players getting along with it. It’s not an instant winner. It’s just fine. A lot like the tower itself, Steampunk Tower 2 is easy to pick up yet just as easy to put down.

About the Author

Hannah Colvin

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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