Sanctum displays multi-genre appeal

SCATTER LASERS, LIGHTNING TOWERS, AND VIOLATORS BLAST advancing enemies.

Dave’s Take

I had actually heard of Sanctum for quite a while before we decided to do a group play through of it, and in my mind, before playing, it seemed like a fun, but dumb idea. The mixing of a first-person shooter with a tower defense game seems like it wouldn’t work, right? The two play styles are antithetical; one is very active and the other is mostly passive, attacking one’s enemies directly as opposed to setting defenses and waiting for the enemy to come to you.

I don’t know how, but Sanctum pulls it off, for the most part. It manages to pull the raw boredom out of the average tower defense and replace it with a halfway decent first-person shooter between tower defense planning sections.

It brings together the OCD portion of my brain for planning attack angles, enemy routes, overlapping angles and radii of fire, and the primal portion of my brain to stand directly in my enemy’s path and hold down the trigger whilst laughing manically. The game is … satisfying. Buy it, add me on Steam, and let’s play.

James’ Take

Sanctum is the best new game I’ve played in a long time. I really like tower defense games, and, while I’m not that big on first-person shooters, the seamless integration of the two genres makes that the most enjoyable part of the game. Sanctum works so well because it takes the boring part of tower defense games—the part where you’ve strategized to the max and now have to sit back and wait to see whether you survive the coming onslaught—and puts you in the middle of the action with your own complement of weapons: assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and slow gun, which allows you to slow or freeze enemies.

The enemies in Sanctum span a decently wide range: there are weak, fast ones who come in large swarms; there are big, slow ones with ridiculous defense; there are flying ones; there are ones with shields on the front; and there are ones in between. They all have bright, glowing weak spots, which take massive damage when hit. The towers are much more interesting, ranging from rapid-fire to bouncing shots to surface-to-air missiles to the innuendo-tastic Penetrator, which shoots through enemies, and Violator, which hits air and ground targets with extreme prejudice.

One of my favorite things about the game was that, unlike most tower defense games, you could design the path yourself. Creating intricate mazes to maximize the distance the enemies had to traverse was a lot of fun. Another feature that amused me greatly was the text-to-speech chat function, especially when combined with tiles you could place to slow down everything passing through them—including you. While the text was being spoken, you could step into the slow field and hear it slow down hilariously.

While the single-player mode is quite enjoyable, with maps that extend far beyond the field of battle and contain hidden secrets which are fun to find, the true enjoyability of the game comes from the multiplayer mode. There’s nothing more fun than debating strategy with three friends and then helping each other blow the giblets out of a seemingly never-ending stream of baddies!

All in all, Sanctum is a great game, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys either tower defense or first-person shooters, even if you dislike the other genre. They are melded together so well that you’ll enjoy it anyways.

Kevin’s Take

I suck at tower defense. Give me a first-person shooter or a real-time strategy game and I’ll be fine. Give me a tower defense game, and I’ll be the most frustrated person you can find in a five-mile radius. So what happens when you give me a game that is both a first-person shooter and a tower defense? You get Sanctum.

Sanctum is good, but it is not perfect. The game suffers from framerate issues, which stem from the game’s implementation of the Unreal 3.0 engine. The engine cannot handle having so many entities rendered at once. Towers, mobs, players, projectiles—there are too many things on the screen, especially when the map is so large. The first-person shooter also feels like an add-in; you can win the game using only towers. It is extremely frustrating to be shooting something in the head with a sniper rifle without doing any appreciable damage. Worst of all, the game also forces you to build towers in first-person view! Sure, it touts the unique first-person perspective, but that novelty quickly fades when you realize you cannot build from a top-down perspective. And where’s my minimap?

But at its core, Sanctum is a fun, innovative game that combines my love for shooting things in the head and my hatred for building towers that steal my kills. Sure, I’ve made some stupid mistakes like not building a tower or solely using a sniper rifle. But my fellow teammates never seem to give me any slack. I was yelled at. I was scorned. I was hated. I would like to say that I have gotten better at the game. Really, I honestly tried. At the end of the day, I learned how to build a tower and upgrade it. That’s good enough, right?

Leave a Reply