The downloadable world is filled with tower defense games these days. However, Double Fine Productions decided to change it up a bit. Instead of controlling units from the skies above, Trenched places you right on the field in the thick of battle defending your posts from monstrous creations and it never stops being fun.
Trenched takes place during an alternate timeline of the world. After World War I, a radio transmission simply known as "The Broadcast" went out on the airwaves and all who listened to it died; all except two people. War veterans Frank Woodruff and Vladimir Farnsworth survived the transmission and were forever changed. Woodruff decided to build giant mechs called "Mobile Trenches" giving disabled soldiers the ability to move again. Farnsworth decided to create the "Monovision" with the single goal in mind to take over the world. As a new recruit to the Mobile Trench Brigade, it is up to you to stop the Monovision Menace from taking over the world.
First off, you have got to give credit to Double Fine's humor in games and it makes Trenched even more enjoyable. Frank Woodruff is a man's man of the World War I-era which can be easily seen by him holding up an American Flag and smoking a cigarette as a tank rolls over him with him narrating over the picture: "The enemy crushed my legs, but he couldn't crush my spirit." Even then the humor doesn't stop. According to Woodruff's description of the Mobile Trenches, they come equipped with its very own humidor you can retire to after a hard day on the battlefield.
The gameplay style of Trenched is simple to grasp, but takes some strategy to pull off effectively. As a tower defense game, it is your job to protect a stationary target from getting destroyed by the Monovision Menace. You will have to use a combination of your Mobile Trench and stationary defense posts called emplacements to defend the target. The game pretty much boils down to a Horde Mode style of gameplay as you defend the target from increasingly difficult waves of enemies. It requires you to think on your feet especially when you get different enemies that do different things during a wave. You may come across standard enemies that shoot at you and can be taken out easily while there are other enemies whose main purpose is to take out emplacements and it is up to you to stop them before they do. These kinds of enemies make you prioritize what needs to be done. Strategy and the right customization of your Mobile Trench are key.
There is quite a bit of customization when it comes to building your own Mobile Trench and it really changes the style of gameplay you encounter. You can change the core, legs, paint job and weapon load out of your Mobile Trench and it effects what you will experience on the battlefield. Picking an Assault Core for your Trench grants you the ability to equip a plethora of weapons or the biggest and baddest of them with names like "Baby Nasty" and become a one-man wrecking crew as you mow down Tubes (the slang term for Monovision machines). If you want to have others fight your battles, you can pick an Engineering Trench core. You won't get to carry as many guns, but you can drop down a lot of different types of emplacements and have your stationary guns do all the work for you. Mowing down a few Tubes nets you scrap that you can use as currency to drop down and upgrade your emplacements and can really let you take control of the engagement.
Being a Horde Mode style of gameplay, it becomes increasingly difficult to take on sorties by yourself and multiplayer is definitely where it is at. You and up to three friends can join in and take on the Monovision Menace. Gameplay like this requires constant contact with your allies and coordinating each individual load out of a Trench before each mission to make sure you have an effective strategy is required for a successful mission. Playing with your friends is the best part of Trenched. The action is fast-paced and screaming out where Tubes are coming from and panicking that "THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!" makes for some jubilant play sessions. Perhaps the only real downside is that once the main campaign is over, there is really nothing else to bring you back to the game unless you just want to try a previous mission as a different Mobile Trench.
Trenched delivers a lot for its 1200 Microsoft Points tag. It is a new perspective on tower defense and it makes for some frantic gameplay moments, but it does not skimp on the strategic style of it one bit. The action is exciting and the comedy writing is there and really sells it. Double Fine has created a download that is definitely worth your time.