By Chris Picone, 16 April 2023
Element Studios come from a foundation of tower defence games, and it shows. Full disclosure: I accidentally played the beta release when writing this review, which is something I wouldn't normally do - in this case, the game was so well polished, I didn't realise it was only a beta!
I'll get this out of the way first: Axon TD includes 32 towers and traps, each of 3 different upgrade arrangements, 8 castable abilities, 21 different enemies, so there's plenty of variety from the outset. In addition to accruing money for each kill, at the end of each wave you receive some sort of bonus, which might come in the form of extra credits or power (used for upgrades), ability power-ups, or map manipulation tools. I'm sure there will be some tweaking but even in this super early stage it's all well-balanced and very polished. Tower defence games are a relatively flooded market, so I think what's most important here is where this game differs to the others, and for me that's the ability to manipulate the map as you go. Other games include this, of course, but in Axon TD it's a fundamental mechanic. Quickplay mode's been fun (the focus of which is coming up with your best loadout and then trying to dominate a map) but my favourite part of this game so far is its survival mode. In survival mode, you don't get to choose your loadout; instead, you unlock new towers and traps as part of the reward process, forcing you into many tough decisions. You also build the map as you go, unlocking new areas every four levels, and every ten levels a boss enemy appears. This arrangement allows for infinite replayability. And as if all that wasn't enough, the full release will also feature co-op and campaign modes.
The verdict? Axon TD's a superb tower defence game that will appeal to any fan of the genre. Even in this pre-early release beta stage, it's already very well polished and has plenty to offer. And the full version, which will include a 40 level campaign and scenarios, and another ~12 months of polish, will no doubt become one of the premier titles in the genre.