A tower defense game that doesn’t really know what balance looks like
Genre: Tower-defense, Strategy
Developer: Echo Entertainment
Publisher: Echo Entertainment
Release Date: 20 Feb, 2020
Taur is a tower defense game located in a faraway planet, which is under attack by a foreign robot race. The goal of Taur is to build a bastion composed of multiple turrets and fight the enemy in different points of the planet each day, while also developing the structures at our disposal and researching new technologies. The enemies, unlike other tower defense games, do not follow paths in the map but rather spawn around the tower and attack it.
A fluctuating difficulty
In Taur, we control a single tower with two fire modes and (eventually) different abilities, both of which can be exchanged later in the game in favour of newly researched weapons and skills. The very first levels will see us, the players, manually shooting the enemies as the only possible way to win, since the game uses requires resources to research and build new turrets and structures, resources that hardly are available at the start of the game. This is my first gripe with Taur: every new game start sloooooowly: it’s just you, shooting enemies that spawn is small waves and slowly make their way to you. There’s no difficulty, it’s just an initial phase that you have to get through.
After the initial phase, the situation gets quite… strange. There are a few levels of the right difficulty, but after those the curve just spikes: the first time the game spawned a new unit against me, it spawned three of them. These units were tanks with missile launchers that literally one-shot me because I had no missile defense, which was useless before that point in time. Then, the level after that spawned a mass of small enemies three to four times larger than anything I’ve ever seen before: another lost round. After losing three rounds in a row, the game just spawns three normal tanks against me, with do little to no damage, and the round is an easy win. The difficulty is, in fact, very inconsistent and it’s easy to find an incredibly hard level between easy ones, or a very easy level between incredibly difficult ones.
Progress in Taur is measured by the current level and in the number of resources at our disposal: energy and power cores. These last two elements are collected at the end of each level, even if we fail at defending the place. Energy is used for literally everything: research, buy new construction slots and towers, while power cores are used only for the construction slots and towers. The problem here lies in the slowness for which power cores are obtained: in order to build a turret you have to first unlock its construction slot (energy + corresponding power core) and the purchase the tower itself (again, energy + one or more power cores).
For each level, you tend to get just from one advanced power core to a handful of basic ones, not depending on the difficulty of the level, but on some seemingly random parameters (thus, difficult scenarios can give fewer rewards than easy ones). The worst situation you can find yourself in is when you need basic power cores, but none of the levels will give you one, sometimes for two-three consecutive days. This makes you stuck with your current composition and unable to change or upgrade it, since all advanced structures also require basic cores.
Graphics and optimization
It is undeniable: Taur looks very nice in its coloured graphics and light effects and when the screen gets filled with explosions, enemies and aircrafts drifting around the game gives the feeling of a very great battle going on. Even here, though, there are aspects that could use some improvements: models look blurry when the zoom-in function of the game is used and the game just can’t run a 60fps, for some reason, and instead ranges to 48 to 56 fps at all graphical settings and situations (small or large battles): the strangest thing is that sometimes very large battles get higher frames than small ones, for seemingly no reason.
While Taur needs some proper balancing in both difficulty and progress speed, the game is quite fun and can boast massive battles with tons of units on the screen, giving that epic feeling in some of its levels. The game can also be played in small sessions, which can be handy for those players that just can’t play for hours.