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Savage Moon

The Imoon of Savage Moon are filled with two very different things, valuable resources and Insectocytes. Mankind have set up shop on these living asteroids with the purpose of excavating as much of the former as possible, but have unearthed more of the latter. Despite being a horde of hideous alien bugs, the Insectocytes are just doing their job. After all, it is you who are the intruder, the pest, and they really just want you off their rock. But we’re not going to let them do that, we’re humans, and we love taking what isn’t ours.

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Over the course of Savage Moon you’ll be left in charge to protect 12 separate mining operations across three different asteroid clusters, known as the Imoon nebulae. Before each encounter you’ll be given a brief fly over of your battleground that allows you a bit of time to assess not only where the Insectocytes will originate, but their best possible route to your mining base. You’ll also be using that time to decide where the best place to make your stand is.

Like most tower defense games you start with nothing at the beginning of each round, save for a few credits. Having assessed the battlefield you’ll use your money to build various towers to misdirect and kill the bugs before reaching your base. You’ll have access to a wide assortment of towers ranging from the simple dependable machine gun to the Ion Cannon-esque orbital bombardment. Additionally there are a wide variety of support towers including the amp tower that will become crucial in a successful base defense.

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As the legions of various Insectocytes are exterminated you’ll accumulate money and further drop pods. The drop pods represent a maximum allotment of towers that can be deployed at one time, and if a tower is either sold or destroyed you’ll recover a drop pod in addition to a portion of the credits you spent on it. While you’re managing your credits and drop pods you’ll also have to constantly research greater technology to unlock better towers and upgrade existing towers to buff their overall stats.

Resource management and tech trees are common place in strategy titles but Savage Moon starts to charter its own course with its Command Skills option. At any given point you can access your menu and use a Command Skill to alter the amount of credits you receive for killing Insectocytes, improve your towers’ armor or improve their overall damage. Affecting any single skill will give it a temporary +2 while the other skills will drop to -1. You can also trigger up to two skills at any one time but the temporary buffs will only be +1. Using these abilities in conjunction with your current tower and Insectocyte wave becomes absolutely crucial to surviving some of the later Imoon.

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Speaking of survival, it can become extremely difficult as you progress through Savage Moon. Part of this is attributed to the general difficulty curve found in the game, but a lot of it has to do with the over abundance of stuff happening at any given time. During the larger waves there can be easily 50+ towers and Insectocytes on screen and battles can be happening in several different locations at once. Deciphering what exactly is transpiring within the cross fire can be a lot to ask of a player, with a variety of tower and Insectocyte attack special effects animating, all the while trying to make sure no stray bugs break through. During these intense battles you’ll still have to be wary of your resources, what level your towers are at, how much health your base has left and whether or not you need to be employing one of your Command Skills.

It also becomes apparent later in the game that the amp tower can be the turning point on any given Imoon. The amp tower will amplify any other towers’ abilities within its area of effect, and when coupled with a repair tower of a reasonable level, the duo can bestow near invulnerability to any nearby tower grouping. This doesn’t mean that each Imoon becomes simple, because it’s still easy to be overrun early on. However, the research and building of your first amp tower sort of becomes your most visible objective.

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Once you’ve polished off any Imoon nebulae, Savage Moon will let you replay it in Vengeance mode. The mode changes each and every level into a test of survival as the Imoon will unleash an infinite amount of Insectocyte waves and you’ll have to survive as long as possible. Additionally, the game boasts a number of grades for each and every level, along with a variety of ways to play thanks to the Command Skills, so if you’re looking for more game after completion you’ll certainly find it.

Even though Savage Moon is relatively short, there are a lot of features to like about this tower defense game. It can easily become a sensory overload and the tower balance could have used a little more tweaking, but under its simple premise there is a fulfilling strategy experience. It certainly doesn’t have the universal appeal or accessibility of PixelJunk Monsters, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as it caters to a different type of player, the one that liked to think while torturing bugs as a child.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

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