June 30, 2011

Cyberpunk Battle Royale

Lasting First Impressions of Trenched from Double Fine Productions

Trenched boxart Double Fine Productions, the developers behind such titles as Brutal Legend, PsychoNauts and Stacking, comes at us again with their latest XBLA release, Trenched.  Beating Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die! to the punch, Trenched presents us with an immersive third-person tower defense game.  Set in an alternate reality cyberpunk war, Trenched puts the player into the driver seat of a completely customizable Mech as wave after wave of mechanical monsters storm the grounds attempting to destroy the good guys’ base.  In addition to using the weapons mounted on your Mech to bring down the enemies, deployable ‘towers’ are available to help defeat the onslaught.

Trenched truly increases the stakes during each level by leaving nearly no time in between each wave to prepare.  The player is forced to think ahead and deploy towers in real time even during combat.  This can become a little hectic at times since, not only is the player required to distribute or upgrade towers on the fly, but the currency used to purchase new towers must be collected from the defeated enemies.  In between each wave, there is just enough time to collect the currency before the onslaught begins again.  Regardless of this, Trenched is still a wonderful new take on the typical tower defense game and fuses the ever popular ‘hoard’ mode of enemy slaughter making it incredibly fast paced and intense.  Each new level presents new types of enemies as well as new towers and weapons with which to customize the player’s Mech.

Trenched 1

Trenched provides an over-the-top humour and style unlike anything before it and it certainly does not take itself seriously. Any fan of third person shooters will love Trenched and fans of tower defense games will appreciate this new take on the genre. As always, XBLA offers a free demo of the game for anyone to give it a try before buying and Trenched certainly deserves a serious look.

I really wanted to like this game because I am a fan of the tower defense genre and loved what I played of Orcs Must Die! at PAX East so I was hoping for more of the same thing.  While Trenched certainly delivers on a similar game style, there’s just something about it that really wasn’t enthralling me.  Perhaps it was the seemingly underpowered towers I had in my arsenal that seemed as if they weren’t doing anything for me so I might as well take care of everything myself with the mech; perhaps it was the slow speed of the mech itself that felt like it took forever to get to where I wanted to go, whether it be to deploy a tower or collect the currency dropped by the enemies.  In such a fast paced shooter, the mech was in extreme contrast in it’s speed of travel and movement.

Trenched 2

Outside of the combat levels is a ship’s hanger used as the launch point for each mission. It is here that the player can customize the mech and add new weapons and armour.  The menu system here, unfortunately, was a little confusing to understand what’s available, and what I should do with each weapon.  Depending on the weapon configuration chosen, the player may have more or less available towers to use during the upcoming waves.  While this certainly increases the strategy elements, I, unfortunately, found it difficult, without knowing what was coming, to know how to properly equip the mech ahead of time.

While I did enjoy playing the game, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with it whether it be because of one or all of the above-mentioned shortfalls.  Regardless, I would still recommend at least giving the demo a try to see if this is something you’d like.

Double Fine, I gave you and hour, and, unfortunately I was disappointed.  I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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