Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Saul Berenbaum2
I’m a big fan of Worms. You know, that turn-based strategy series by Team 17? That game has you playing as a team of worms bent solely on the eradication of another team of worms. They’ve got guns, bombs, and all sorts of crazy stuff. It’s really fun.
Anthill is a strategy game about creepy crawly warfare, much like Worms, and I’m sure I’m not the first to draw the comparison. But for all its similarities, Anthill remains a unique strategy game, with plenty of strengths in its own right. Unfortunately, like Team17’s flagship franchise, Anthill’s unforgiving level of difficulty may turn off more casual players.
The core gameplay involves defending your anthill with bombers, soldiers and other variants (get it?), bringing the corpses of fallen enemy bugs back by spawning worker ants. The food these bounties provide lets you spawn more bombers and soldiers, to bring back more corpses, and so on, and so forth, until every one of your opponents lies either in a slimy puddle atop a bunch of dead leaves, or cooking back at your home base, ready to provide sustenance for more of the troops. It’s just like real life!
One of the biggest problems with Anthill is its difficulty. For the first few stages, a tutorial holds your hand. Then, by the fifth or sixth level, you’ll find your anthill getting successfully attacked for the first time. Soon after, you’ll realize how easy it is to die in this game. Winning on a lot of the later levels requires a practically flawless performance, involving rampant coordination and re-coordination of all of your ant types simultaneously.
Anthill’s visuals, while strikingly detailed with fantastic lighting effects, all too often depict a dirt-colored screen. A great deal of dimensionality is gained by the bordering trees we seem to be looking down from as players, but the top-down perspective itself means a lot of lost details are lost. Bug corpses tend to blend in with the dirt and other surface textures and it’s far too easy to lose track of your own ants amidst all but the least dense of enemy waves.
A lot of the time, you’ll be taking care of an encroaching threat over at one of the corners of the screen, only to find the hill being attacked. Pockets of space with greater sunlight and visibility do a little to help but not much.
Despite my qualms with the game, it’s has a number of high points. The game’s design is unique and there’s a likeable sense of humor conveyed through the character text, and the presentation overall is very impressive. Anthill has mostly five star ratings on the Play Store, and the development team even mentions in an in-game note that the campaign level and Endless mode were added to the game as thanks for the positive feedback. While I had issues with the abrupt spike in the game’s difficulty level, it remains a solid mobile RTS/Tower Defense and there aren’t too may of those, good ones at least. If you’re a strategy junkie, or a fan who relishes a steep challenge, you’ll probably end up having a good bit of fun with it.
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Is it hardcore?
Summary: A unique and sometimes inordinately challenging entry in the tower defense genre. Hardcore strategy fans may want to add a point.