Developer(s) – Mechabit Games
Developed by Mechabit Games, a small development company based in Liverpool, England, Kaiju Panic is a tower defence game heavily influenced by Japanese culture in terms of conceptual design, and encouraging players to adopt an extremely heavy tactical approach in order to progress. As I said in my Play Manchester Article, this was my favourite indie game to be displayed at the show, and after having played the finished product, it has become my favourite indie game to have been released this year too.
Visually, the game seems to be somewhat of a love letter to the SNES classic, EarthBound, featuring a wide variety of vibrant and colourful modern-day environments, and containing an even wider variety of monsters to have to fend off, and characters to have to rescue along the way. I was particularly impressed by what I saw throughout, since not only is it’s core conceptual design extremely creative, but that there is certainly scope for the developers to build upon the mythology of the game even more, making me extremely excited for the future of what could potentially be a very distinct and very successful franchise.
Gameplay – 10/10
The gameplay is also just as creative, as well as being insanely addictive. Plays must work to protect cities from attack carried out by sinister monsters called Kaiju. Players do this by gathering civilians, mining for resources and building gun turrets of different varieties in order to battle different types of Kaiju that have distinct weaknesses. For example, certain Kaiju may be weak against corrosive attacks, whilst other may be weak against laser-based attacks. The game demands that players try out different methods, forcing them to adopt different tactics to suit different levels and progress through the game. There are also unlockable perks and upgrades to be obtained, adding even more replay value to it.
Controls – 9.5/10
Personally, it took me a little bit of time to get used to the game’s control scheme, since not only does the player have to use the mouse to look around each level and observe what activity occurs, but they must also use the keyboard to move the character around; often at the same time. But once players get used to it, there are no issues to be experienced, and therefore, the game plays out as well as any other PC-based tower defence game or real-time strategy game. I of course have to commend the developers for daring to try something different, and making it work very well overall.
Lifespan – 7/10
Taking everything into account, the game can be made to last at least 20-25 hours, which whilst quite impressive, ultimately left me wanting more. In turn, however, that again made me excited for what kind of directions the developers could take a potential sequel in. In my opinion, there is a great amount of possibility to not only expand on the lore and mythology of the game, but to expand on the core concept gameplay, and the amount of different gameplay modes too.
Storyline – 7/10
Simplistic in general concept, the story follows a general, whom with the help of Earth’s citizens, must fend of a planetary invasion orchestrated by the Kaiju. Although the game’s story can be viewed as straightforward in scope, it is kept interesting by the series of cutscenes that occur between each level, and how events unfold that depict distinct events that happen around the core plot. Some of them also provide the game with a small comedic element, which I found gave it a pretty distinct charm.
Originality – 8/10
Although there have been many games of it’s kind to have come and gone over many years, I think the developers did a particularly good job of making this one stand out among a vast majority of them. Employing unique conceptual design, along with a distinct style of play, and control scheme, I’ve come across very few indie games so far incorporate such a great deal of originality, and to me, it has been instrumental in showing exactly what indie developers are capable of if they truly believe that what they have created can work, and extremely well. And in my opinion, this title certainly works extremely well indeed.
Overall, Kaiju Panic is the best indie game I have played this year. It’s charming, addictive, creative, and if a franchise will ever be born from this title, it certainly has a great deal of potential for the future. I highly recommend it.