Genre: Tower Defense with strong RPG elements
Release Date: October 22, 2014 (Early Access); February 4, 2015 (Full Release)
Deathtrap was developed by Neocore, the studio behind the Van Helsing games.
The game is marketed as the fusion of tower defense and action-oriented RPG. It's basically in the same vein as the Diablo games; you view the world from an isometric perspective and try to kill everything on the screen by mashing your mouse button. The role-playing aspects of the game are limited to gaining experience and leveling up your skills.
The major difference between Deathtrap and other action RPGs is that it is almost devoid of any form of storytelling. As the genre “tower defense” suggests, your main objective is to stop enemy forces from crossing a map. This can be achieved by direct combat and/or setting traps/defense mechanisms. That's it.The game has no story, no quests, no dialogue etc.
I was a bit skeptical when I launched Deathtrap. I like action RPGs to some extent, but they usually become boring and repetitive after awhile.
The game starts promisingly. After you select a character from the usual fighter/wizard/rogue combo, a short hands-on tutorial shows you how to set up traps and fight monsters.
The first few minutes of gameplay are, indeed, very engaging. After a brief preparation stage, monsters start streaming in from everywhere (luckily, the game tells you their points of entry) and you crazily try to balance your actions between traveling, direct combat and setting up traps. Gameplay is smooth and fun. After a level is completed, you get to spend your hard-earned skill points to fortify your character as well as your traps and defense mechanisms.
I enjoyed the tactical aspects of the gameplay very much. The game offers a wide variety of spells, traps and mechanisms that can be combined in different ways to slow, kill and manipulate enemies.
You need to master both resource allocation and time management skills in order to tackle the higher difficulty levels appearing later in the game. Resource allocation is very important. You can only set up a limited number of traps before the monsters appear, hence you need to choose trap locations wisely based on entry points. Time management is also a critical skill; you need to alternate between setting up traps and fighting monsters at different spawning locations.
All of this might sound frustrating, but the game’s difficulty level is finely tuned and complexity increases very smoothly as you progress through different maps. Another nice feature is a very easy-to-use map editor that enables you to design your own levels with customized entry points and trap locations.
Deathtrap supports single-player mode as well as cooperative and PvP modes. In single-player, you're able to combine a limited number traps/spells. In co-op mode, you and other players fight the monsters together. The diversity of traps and spells really shines through in this mode, which also offers a variety of different attack and defense styles. This makes co-op really fun to play. In PvP mode, you play either as a defender or an attacker.
On the downside, the graphics -- especially animations -- are definitely substandard. Sound and music are also very generic. Further, I would have preferred seeing some novelty in the monster design; almost all enemies resemble recycled versions of standard RPG foes.
Overall, I enjoyed Deathtrap much more than I expected to. The magnitude of content is impressive; there are also tons of different combinations of traps and upgrades with which to experiment. Gameplay is also very engaging. Hack-and-slash games are supposed to be addictive, but the tactical flavor of this game really adds something to the overall experience that typically isn't seen in action-oriented RPG games. I am looking forward to the finished product.
OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
Processor: Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia 8800 GT, Intel HD4000 or AMD HD3850
DirectX: Version 9.0
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card