Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS
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Dark Exile is a tower defense game through and through. Still, the tower defense genre has become so large that calling a game a "tower defense game" doesn't really give players that much indication as to what the game is really like. What Dark Exile is, is an enjoyable mix of deep space sci-fi and fixed-path tower defense gameplay.
Unlike some other tower defense games out there where players create or alter enemy routes by placing turrets and obstacles to guide the incoming waves, the stages in Dark Exile all have a defined route that enemy waves will follow. The path is not strictly defined though, and the enemy AI will maneuver to avoid attacks whenever possible. The goal of the game is to protect deep space installations from waves of attacking enemies. To ward off enemy attacks, players must place space stations that will attack and destroy enemies en route to attack the installation. Since the enemy's paths are predetermined, there are also set areas where these space stations can or can not be placed.
There are three types of space stations that can be placed in predefined areas to fight off the enemy waves, and each type has its strengths. Rocket stations have long range but less damage, laser stations do more damage but have less range, and science stations don't do much damage at all but they slow down enemies and will repair nearby stations. As the game progresses three levels of station upgrades become available making it possible to strengthen a station's defenses and extend its weapons range. Enemies will pound these stations to dust as they attack in wave after wave, so the player must be strategic with their placements and upgrades. To help the player out, there are also special attacks that become available eventually that boost the attacks of one particular type of station for a period of time.
The game's campaign mode is fairly interesting and has some enjoyable variations on the typical tower defense play. For example, in one level, instead of needing to survive a certain number of waves, they player must accumulate a certain number of resources while surviving as many waves as it takes to accumulate the required amount.
While Dark Exile isn't by any means the most innovative tower defense game out there, it is a lot of fun. The visuals are well executed and they scale well whether zoomed in or out. The campaign is fun and the variation of goals from level to level keeps the game fresh.