Play It: Cursed Treasure (Candystand)

I like a good tower defense game. One of the better ones I've encountered in a few weeks is Candystand's Cursed Treasure. It is not a particularly innovative tower defense game, but it's so well made that it becomes a must play game for fans of this genre. In a narrative twist (not a novel one, but a rare one), you are playing as the bad guy. You must defend your five precious jewels from the hoards of heroes trying to earn fame. You build temples (flames), crypts (heat seeking projectiles), and dens (arrows) on varied terrain to destroy the heroes before they touch your gems. Lose all five gems and you've failed the level.

Unlike traditional tower defense games, Cursed Treasure is broken into different levels. Each level has multiple waves of enemies. Your goal is to build up experience to upgrade your buildings and spells to better deal with the increased difficulty curve. This could be upgrading the speed of the weapon, magical properties of the weapon, strength of a spell, or penalties for heroes who get too close to the gems. The game is balanced enough that even doing the minimum upgrade on a certain element is enough to make a noticeable difference. You'll reach a point where if you don't upgrade, you can't progress any further. The stages are incidental to the need to constantly improve your arsenal

The graphics are clean and identifiable. You get an overhead representative map view of the playing field. A square that has a forest you need to clear will always look the same no matter where it appears on the board. The heroes come in a few different varieties though the basic character animation is the same. A little more visual variety would have been nice. Still, the graphics get the job done.

The bigger issue is the sound design. It's repetitive and uninspired. Every time a new wave of heroes come in, there is a singular battle cry. The weapons all make roughly the same sound and random clinks of armor or swords punctuate the game. For something that's so otherwise well-made, it's a let down. However, that's why games have mute buttons. It would be nice to play with the original audio, but it's not worth trying.

Cursed Treasure is a game that can suck you in if you like tower defense games. You sign on for one round, then go for another, then another, and still then another. Soon you've already used 15 experience points and are trying to get just the next level up to finish off the third upgrade on the second row to really ace that one level. It's fun for the right audience.

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