Tower defense games are a dime-a-dozen. Unholy Heights is the latest game to join those ranks. Unfortunately, it ends up in the “forgettable” bin with the all the long-lost flash games of yesteryear. When the first impression the game leaves is a terrible techno track that sounds like they used a mangled cat as an instrument, you know this won’t be a pleasant experience.
Satan – who is essentially the main character – has decided to go into real estate. He’s opened up an apartment block on some grassy plain in the middle of nowhere, and tries to attract monsters to come live in them by providing better furnishing. From the get-go there are some clear Dungeon Keeper parallels, as you don’t have complete control of the monsters in your block, but have to make sure they are doing well. It’s much less fun to observe them, though, as they barely interact with each other and only leave their apartments to go to work. It’s no fun to watch the world when nothing of interest happens. Also, why there is an apartment block in a medieval fantasy realm is never fully explained. It is, however, a far more acceptable flaw than many of the others that litter it.
To expand his apartment block and attract more powerful monsters, Satan must acquire gold from humans attacking it, trying to plunder the riches from his lair. It’s the case of a premise that’s sort of interesting, but it never really comes to fruition, because it’s not put into any sort of narrative context. The framework for a story is there, but there’s never put anything on top of it, which means that everything appears random and pointless.
Naturally, only having the barest frames of a story is quite common for casual games like this, but what characterizes successful casuals is that they have either a unique gameplay mechanic or perfect an existing one so that it becomes so addictive that no one cares about how shallow it is. Unholy Heights has none of these. The fights that you are engaged in have a minimum of depth, the decide the battle order of the units must be decided, but this has very little practical application as the two opposing sides simply bash or throw objects at each other until the other is crushed. A defeat can also be catastrophic, as the adventurers make off with a large amount of gold, which makes it much harder to recuperate, as the process of waiting for the monster tenants to pay rent is quite tedious.
It wouldn’t even be ideal for mobile platforms as the experience is simply too long-winded to be engaging in the long run. It can’t perform a quick fix solution on a daily commute nor does it offer any hint of depth. It’s simply a repetitive Skinner Box but without any sugar pellets along the way to an anticlimactic conclusion.