It’s not often that I receive genuine bona-fide messages from the future. So you can imagine my surprise when, on downloading the 800 megabytes of Anomaly Defenders I was greeted, not by the Android game I thought I was installing, but by a completely real message from actual aliens. To the astonishment of me and everybody else in this benighted poop-closet we call the present day, it seems I’d been chosen to take command of the forces of these alien fellows and save them all from certain destruction! It seems like they had literally nobody else to call; I can only presume that Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson were all too busy being f@!ing crazy to respond. So I got the job!
In an obvious breach of the Geneva Convention, it seems that future-humans were totally going to destroy all these pitiable alien folk. According to the alien lady who briefed me, I had to buy time for these puny, pants-pooping aliens to launch their escape pods and begin some traumatic exodus into the outer dark where there is only a wailing and a gnashing of mouth-parts (or teeth or whatever it is they have). It was a story so utterly original and completely novel that it just had to be completely real! And when I reached the future, I could really tell it was the future: everything was made out of glowing turquoise and orange lines, and there were robots and stuff. It was all so unexpected that my puny present-day human brain nearly exploded from the shock of it all. I could almost understand why those naughty future-humans wanted to blow everything up. Living in the future must be hard with all those lights glowing and going BAZOW around you!
And how, I hear you asking, was I supposed to buy time for these plucky exiles-to-be? Why, by building towers that would destroy the incoming waves of human attackers as they crawled along fixed and pre-determined paths! I can only presume that the generals of the future have all suffered massive brain hemorrhages, and that their junior officers have taken to just following the lines their drool makes on the carefully-drawn maps of the battlefield. It was all very intimidating as I had absolutely no idea how I could ever prevail against such daring and nuanced strategic minds!
And then I started my defense. The enemies came, and I built towers; the towers shot at the enemies, and the enemies eventually exploded, leaving me enough resources to build more towers. I found this cycle to be so utterly rewarding and fulfilling that I decided to repeat it for another 24 thrilling levels. I never even used my magical ability to speed up time (woah! But it’s true!) at all, because defending those escape pods constantly demanded my attention in meaningful and interesting ways, and never once asked me to go through cycles of meaningless and repetitive micromanagement actions! All the time I was commanding the defense, I simply couldn’t think of any of the other things I’d rather be doing: whether it was eating fish and chips, filing my tax returns, or breaking my own legs and those of the furniture I was sitting on, never once did I think I’d rather be doing any of these utterly riveting and entirely compelling things! I was so engrossed, I even spent extra time with the game trying to learn the details of its technology tree, building at least seven spreadsheets in order to help me work out what the best upgrades were. That’s how much I cared for those happy-go-lucky alien refugees, folks!
So, yeah. That’s Anomaly Defenders, a Tower Defense game of average presentation that quickly reveals itself to be so clunky and tedious that I had to resort to sarcasm in order to avoid falling asleep while I was reviewing it. Next time I get a message from another planet, I’ll probably ask around and see if Tom Cruise can fit them in. That or tell them to go f@!k themselves.
Glacier-paced and far longer than its wafer-thin premise and design can sustain it, Anomaly Defenders is as graceful and as lovable as a whale flopping about on the deck of a Japanese ship. The whale still has the edge in this comparison, though, because at least somebody will get sushi at the end of it all.