Review: Escape From the Red Planet – Towered. Defenseless.

Need to spice your game mechanics? What about Escape From the Red Planet, a tower defense game mixed with a First Person Shooter? Developed by FrostyPop, Escape From the Red Planet offers tactical gameplay and many choices to defeat dastardly aliens.

In Escape From the Red Planet, you play as a scientist who becomes stranded on an alien planet and must fight their way through hordes of aliens that are coming at you in all directions. Harvest power to build turrets and barricades to slowly bring the waves of enemies to a halt. The difficulty of levels gradually ramp up as you’re introduced to new enemies and new weapons to build. Escape From the Red Planet is all about timing, as each little action eats away at your time as the aliens creep forward. Knowing how to balance setting turrets out or shooting at aliens is important, and what makes the game a kind of puzzle. Unfortunately there’s quirks about the gameplay. Every action needs to be clicked on. This doesn’t seem all that bad, until you realize you have to click on the tower every time to get more power bits to use to build things. Actions start becoming tedious and soon become a chore.

Screenshot 43
You play as a scientist whomust fight their way through hordes of aliens that are coming at you in all directions.

While presenting itself as a tower defense and FPS is an intriguing combination, Escape From the Red Planet lacks the enjoyment of both of the two mechanics. Together the mechanics provide a strategic dance, where instead of building a turret you can shoot an enemy down quickly. A lot of control is taken away from the player, however. What makes a good tower defense game is how your weapons and battle system evolves over time. In Escape From the Red Planet, each level resets the playing field, starting you from scratch. There are no upgrade systems to improve the speed of turrets, only a multitude of weapons to juggle. There is actually no upgrade system at all for any aspect of the game, which dwindles the player’s choice in how to approach a level. In a tower defense and FPS, the player should feel like they’re improving the system that they’re working from. New weapons are only offered to handle new enemies, which doesn’t give the feeling of progressions, just constant steadiness. 

Levels don’t always start out the same, either. You are sometimes given more power in one level than another, probably because the level was too difficult to start off at a normal amount. The inconsistencies of each level makes you lose out on a coherent strategy. Escape From the Red Planet can become more of a real time strategy game, so timing has to be precise. Escape From the Red Planet shines in this way, where you have an option to either construct a turret to fight for you or you can blaze down the enemies yourself. I should make clear that the FPS can be insufferable at times. You can’t control where the sight moves, so you just have to sit there and wait as it slowly glides across the screen. The cursor doesn’t aim at what you want it to all the time. If there’s a lot of ground enemies coming at once and along comes a single floating alien puffing by, you can’t focus in on the floating alien to take it down quickly. You can only shoot at the nearest alien. Seeing the sight glide around, there can be a lot of missed shots that waste your ammo, as you anticipate the sight before it reaches its destination.

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The slow moving sight ruins the time efficient pace you’re trying to playing the game at.

Escape From the Red Planet’s art is great to look at and with the soft red color scheme, important buttons and aliens pop out appropriately. But, a lot of the same assets are repeatedly used, which makes every level feel exactly as the next. Each alien involves its own strategy to take them down. When looking at the enemies head-on you can tell the difference between them, but trying to guess what they are using the radar can be difficult. All the icons are a similar shade of green-blue, which isn’t helpful if you’re frantically trying to set up specific towers. 

The audio for Escape From the Red Planet fits the game fairly well. However, the music is the same tune looped over, with no dynamic changes based on wave pacing. The high-pitch beeping of the text popping up is obnoxious, and with all the turrets firing and music hammering it all becomes an utter cacophony. This is one of those situations where the game is more enjoyable if you’re listening to your own music in the background. That being said, the audio design isn’t terrible, it just doesn’t improve Escape From the Red Planet in any way.

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The simple red colour scheme is really appealing.

In summary: Tricky gameplay that involves an interesting challenge on time efficiency. Lack of meaningful choices after a while, as the progression of the game feels out of your control. Minimal, but pleasing art, and audio that sounds better muted.

Jordan played Escape From the Red Planet on Steam using a code provided by the developers.

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