Save the orphans from weird enemies in this awesome fusion of puzzle and tower defense.
The tower defense genre is one that feels like it was played out years ago, likely peaking with Plants vs. Zombies, but Gunhouse, coming to Switch long after its 2014 debut on PlayStation Mobile (R.I.P.), is certainly not a played-out game. While still playing to the strengths and tenets of tower defense, Gunhouse blends in some fast-paced puzzle ideas to make it all feel fresher. While it might be a little lacking in content, the engrossing mechanics and presentation make this an attractive game, even its relative simplicity.
The way Gunhouse works is that it’s essentially turn-based. At the start of a stage, you frantically make combination of blocks, flinging them to either the left or right side of the small playfield to arm your house for the coming hordes. After that’s done, enemies start to advance and you can trigger your guns (on the left side of the house) and your special attacks (on the right side). Rinse and repeat as the enemies coming faster and furiouser, often culminating in boss fights.
The puzzle portion is overwhelming at first, since time is at a premium during these segments. It took me a number of stages before I felt comfortable setting myself up with maximum attack power. Once the puzzles clicked, the entire game became maddeningly engrossing. The main play is split into 10 days, most separated into different times of day. I’d get lost, playing days in a sitting, once I got a grasp on the puzzle mechanic. Even replaying levels was great fun, especially since various side objectives, such as fire off three guns of a certain type per turn or level up your health to a certain plateau, offered more goals to strive for. On top of the main story is a Hardcore Mode, which is a challenging mode that forces players to play through the game all at once with no upgrades.
Money is accrued in game to unlock various upgrades. To start, only three guns are available, but seven more can be unlocked and all of them can be upgraded. The guns are all comical in some fashion with distinctive properties. One of my favorites is the vegetable gun, which fires off veggies and features a special attack that sends a giant carrot falling across the screen. It’s goofy and tongue in cheek in a fabulous way. Adding to the joy is the art, which is expressive and weird. The cherry on top of all this is the spectacular soundtrack by Disasterpeace, which is catchy and masterful.
The game works best when controlled on the Switch’s touchscreen. Button controls are an option, but they just aren’t as smooth as simple taps and swipes. Playing Gunhouse on the TV is great because of the art and music, but a little lacking because of the button controls.
Gunhouse is a smartly designed game with some of the best style I’ve seen in a game in a long time. A limited amount of content holds it back from being incredible, though. With its existence on mobile (and at a much lower price), it’s hard to specifically recommend the Switch version. No matter the platform, though, you should check out Gunhouse. It’s a brilliant take on the tower defense genre and the awesome music is still in my head.