If ever there was a gameplay trope in the iOS realm, it would be the endless runner. But, coming up close second would be the tower defense game. There are thousands of these little suckers lining up for a spot on your home screen. ERA Deluxe is the newest addition to this never ending onslaught of tower defense games. Does it break through your defenses to set up shop on your castle home screen, or will it be blasted away like the rest of those mediocre games? Let’s find out!

ERA Deluxe doesn’t mess about. The first time you tap open the app, you’re flung right into the first level tutorial which does a bang up job of explaining all the conventions, gameplay, and tactics you’ll need to succeed. It is clear, concise, and doesn’t treat you like an idiot. Unlike many other games, this tutorial level is actually a real level. Once the lessons get out of the way, you get treated to an action packed intro that really tests whether you were paying attention through the training.

The aesthetic choices for this title are thoughtful and easy on the eyes. The far future setting is perfect for the graphics designers to make things a bit more abstract which helps to heighten your sense of setting. The graphics are clear and when the action gets fast paced, it never gets convoluted. Also, when you pick up a weapon to place, you get a gridded view of the battlefield that is stratified enough that you can pretty much place your turret anywhere you want, quickly and easily. It makes for fast paced gameplay which is a necessity considering the speed at which the game hurls enemies your way.

Unlike other tower defense games though, this game encourages you to move your forces around depending on what sort of attack you face. You have the usual pathways for usual attackers, but occasionally the game will throw you a curve-ball and a big ship-like enemy will come at your base from just about anywhere and completely ignore the predestined paths everyone else is using. It is the perfect way to jar you out of the mid-level tower defense malaise when you’ve got enough defenses to sit back and watch. With an enemy coming out of nowhere, you quickly need to rearrange to take them down while managing the usual onslaught of enemies.

The biggest departure from the standard tower defense game is the integration of heroes. You can now grab an insanely powerful defender from your base and place it where you need it the most. But, it leaves the base undefended so you need to be careful when and where you place your heroes and remember to bring them back home when things get tough. If you don’t then you’ll be losing very quickly.

Are there any problems with this game? Well, not really. It could be a bit more ambitious with breaking the tower defense conventions. I would love for it to be more of a free form tower defense game that doesn’t rely on predetermined paths. ERA Deluxe is a great start to tossing off the usual and experimenting with what might work.

All in all, ERA Deluxe is a fantastic entry to the tower defense genre and it is well worth your time to play. It will keep you entertained for hours even if you’re a veteran of defending towers. It looks great and offers a ton of variety in each level and provides a new perspective on a tired old genre. It breaks through the bastion of mediocre games and is well deserving of an icon on your homescreen.


Store Link: ERA Deluxe for iPhone & iPad | By Josh Pressenisen | Price: Free | Version: 1.1 | 258 MB | Rating 9+

8.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating