While I haven’t reviewed a lot of games from the genre here on Geeky Hobbies, I am a pretty big fan of the tower defense genre. There is just something satisfying about creating a set of towers and other defenses that can hold back hordes of enemies. As a fan of tower defense games I was intrigued by Barricadez. What made the game even more interesting was that it combined the tower defense mechanics with crafting/resource gathering. After spending more than a year in Early Access, Barricadez has finally received its full release as well as a release on Nintendo Switch giving me a good reason to check out the game. Barricadez has a learning curve, but behind it is a compelling mix of tower defense and crafting mechanics that fans of both genres should really enjoy.
In Barricadez you play as a robot who is awakened by an emergency signal. An escape pod has crashed on your planet with a human child inside. Due to your programming you know you must protect this child at all costs. That is going to be a tough challenge though as you reside on a planet infested with zombie-like creatures which come out each night. To keep the child safe you need to gather resources to build traps and barricades to keep the creatures at bay until morning. Can you keep the child safe and in the process figure out why the survival of this child is so important?
Barricadez is in many ways a combination of two different genres of games which are kind of broken down by the time of day.
During the day Barricadez is similar to your typical crafting/survival/exploration game. Beneath the surface of the planet are a bunch of resources to gather. These resources range from common goods used to make simple barriers to more rare materials which can be refined and turned into the traps and other equipment that you will need in your fight against the creatures. Your robot is equipped with a tool to gather these materials and you will eventually acquire mining robots that automatically mine resources for you in their general vicinity. As you dig further beneath the surface you will acquire more valuable resources which will allow you to build better defenses.
After you acquire resources you must craft them into materials that you can actually use in the fight against the creatures. There are a number of different types of things that you can build. Things like forges, workshops, and chemistry stations are used to further refine objects and build other objects. You can build walls and other barriers which slow down the movement of enemy units. Finally you can create various traps which damage the creatures.
Before night approaches you need to create a defensive strategy that will hold back the horde of creatures to keep the child safe until morning breaks. There are a number of different creatures in the game with each having their own strengths and weaknesses including how they approach different objects that stand in their way. When night finally arrives the hordes will descend onto your location and you must hold them back as the child can only sustain a limited amount of damage. Each creature you kill gives you upgrade points which can give you additional types of traps, make your operation more efficient, or make your traps more deadly.
When I first saw Barricadez I was mostly intrigued by the combination of crafting mechanics with a tower defense game. As a fan of both genres, I was interested in seeing how the game would combine the two together. After playing the game I would say that the game for the most part does a good job balancing the two genres to create a really interesting gameplay experience.
Lets start with the resource gathering and crafting elements of the game. In a lot of ways this mechanic is not drastically different than a lot of 2D games from this genre. This is not to say that it isn’t fun. I enjoyed this element of the game as gathering resources simply relies on clicking your mouse on a spot and your robot will mine the area. When you combine this with mining robots that automatically gather resources for you, you can gather resources pretty quickly. The crafting is pretty straightforward as well since you just need to have the resources in your inventory when you choose the object that you want from the workbench/furnace/etc. The game even has some light automation where you can automatically use the output of one structure to provide resources for another.
I think the thing that I found most interesting about the resources gathering/crafting is that based on how the game is structured you need to figure out how to prioritize gathering resources versus building your base. You can pause the game and place structures allowing you to plan out your layout without having to worry about the running clock. You still need to figure out how you want to spend your time though. The mining robots can be used to gather resources while you are away, but you also need to spend time gathering resources yourself. You can’t spend too much time doing this though or your defenses will start to fail leaving the child vulnerable. Figuring out how to best use your time is a key component of the game leading to some tense moments when you are stuck in the caves as you should be getting back to the surface to help with the defense.
Speaking of the tower defense mechanics the game is similar and yet different than a lot of the games from the genre. Unlike most tower defense games, the game relies considerably more on vertical defenses as the game takes place in 2D. While you can defend yourself just by overpowering enemies with a bunch of powerful traps, the layout of your traps/walls/other defenses is really important to how well you will do. Most enemies will climb a certain height of traps/walls before they begin to attack. You can use this knowledge in order to create a maze of sorts slowing down creatures to give your traps time to attack and destroy them. Different enemies have different weaknesses that you have to exploit.
While it takes some time to really grasp how you should build your base (more on this later), I really liked this aspect of the game. I think the tower defense elements work because the game feels like one where there isn’t one correct way to build your base. There are general tips that you should follow to take advantage of each creatures weakness, but the game gives you enough leeway where it feels like you are creating your own defense instead of just following a blueprint. This keeps the gameplay interesting as you want to continually tweak it to shore up weaknesses and build in new areas to make your defense stronger. Tower defense fans that like games that allow you to build maze structures in order to slow down enemies should enjoy this idea in particular.
Barricadez ultimately succeeds because the two main elements work so well together. Basically each mechanic feeds off the other as you need to find the right balance between the two in order to be successful. The game does a really good job creating a rewarding experience where you feel satisfied when you are able to create a system that works really well. The gameplay is fun and yet challenging enough where players will be constantly trying to come up with a better plan to make things work a little better. This creates a satisfying game that you want to come back to.
There is a lot that I liked about Barricadez. The game does have one somewhat significant issue though which may be a turn off for some players. While Barricadez does have a tutorial, you have to learn most of the game on your own through trial and error. The tutorial goes through some of the basics, but there are other elements of the game that it never really addresses. The game has tooltip style help for elements of the game which do help at times. Ultimately the game is one that you will have to learn while playing.
Because of this Barricadez is the type of game that can be kind of overwhelming when you first start to play it. Expect failure to be part of your process to figure out how best to play the game. To enjoy the game to its fullest you need to put in the time to figure out how you are supposed to play it. You likely will not do a good job creating an efficient defense the first time you play the game. Thus you likely will have to use your first attempt as more of a learning experience as you learn what you are supposed to do better on later attempts. This will likely be a turnoff for some players as the game does start off a little slow as you are trying to adjust to it. The good news is that if you can get past the initial learning curve the game picks up a lot and is really enjoyable.
As for Barricadez’s theme/atmosphere, it if fine but probably not one of the game’s greatest assets. The game’s story is pretty basic and doesn’t play a big role in the game. The atmosphere is better as while it is dark/grim, I thought the game’s visuals were quite good. The game also does a pretty good job creating a sense of dread as you are frantically trying to gather and refine resources quickly hoping that you will have enough of a defense to hold off the incoming horde.
Before playing Barricadez I was curious how a crafting/resource gathering game would pair with a tower defense game. For the most part it works surprisingly well. The gameplay basically boils down to you going back and forth between gathering resources and then turning those into goods and structures to create your defense against the creatures. This is a satisfying gameplay loop as both are fun in their own way. You need to find the right balance between the two if you are going to be successful. The game also gives you quite a few options while designing your defensive strategy as it doesn’t feel like there is one best option allowing players to get creative in how they design theirs. While I enjoyed Barricadez it does have a bigger learning curve than you would like as you have to learn about quite a few of the mechanics on your own through trial and error.
Basically my recommendation on Barricadez comes down to your thoughts on the general premise of the game. If you don’t think the premise of combining a crafting and a tower defense game sounds all that interesting, I don’t think the game will be for you. Those who think the premise sounds at least a little bit interesting though should really enjoy Barricadez and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Fly Penguin inc. for the review copy of Barricadez used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.