IMPRESSIONS: Deathtrap Early Access

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Deathtrap | oprainfall
Title Deathtrap – Early Access
Developer Neocore Games
Publisher Neocore Games
Release Date October 22, 2014 Early Access
Genre Tower Defense, Action RPG
Platform PC
Age Rating N/A
Official Website

If you enjoyed The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing and its sequel, it’s time for another jump back into that realm. More specifically, the Ink, the world of the fiercest and most terrible monsters, who desire more than anything to jump through the portals that lead back to our world. In Deathtrap, your mission is to defend those portals, single-handedly.

Deathtrap | Frozen EnemyWhen each level begins, you have time to survey the map and plan accordingly. Glowing red lines show the paths that enemies will take from their spawners to the portals in that particular wave. These are generally where you’ll want to place traps, though you can only place them in specially-marked spots designed specifically for one of the five trap categories. There are two gun tower categories, two ground trap categories and a monster-summoning category. You can eventually unlock three types of traps for each category, giving you 15 in all.

Deathtrap | Charging InOnce you’ve set things up, it’s time to begin the wave. While some players may stand back and let their traps do all the work, setting up more with the resources they gain midbattle, you don’t have to, and I personally don’t like to. Deathtrap brings back many of the Action RPG mechanics from its predecessor. Thus, you can go in yourself to attack enemies that are tougher or just happen to get around some of your traps. Handy teleportation spots allow you to jump around the battlefield when you need to (though you wonder why the enemies don’t use them, too).

Deathtrap | AxedThough you won’t be Van Helsing himself, you do get the choice of the Mercenary, Sorceress or Marksman (though the current Early Access version only sports the first two). Each has a different normal attack, secondary attack and special skills, which can be upgraded and swapped out as your character levels up. The special skills often buff you, debuff all enemies or increase the power of traps, though a few are still just pure damage. Alternatively, you can spend the skill points to increase your maximum health, attack damage or the resources you get per match for making traps.

Deathtrap | More TrapsThere is also a completely separate point system for upgrading traps. You can only get these the first time you finish a level with a particular star rating. They can either go into general upgrades on a trap type, which affect every trap of that type, or to unlock one of the three in-battle upgrades for that type. You’ll have to spend extra resources to give each trap one of these upgrades after you unlock it, but it allows you to do fun things like poison enemies, freeze them, get a longer range or just do some serious extra damage.

Deathtrap | SorceressThe Early Access version features a default campaign with eight maps, each quite a bit tougher than the last. You can play any of them on three different difficulties, though you have to be in Hard Mode to even have a chance at the highest star rating (and the points it offers). The real content, though, can be found in the Steam Workshop, where Neocore Games, as well as many other players of the game, have added their own maps.

The map editor lets you work on several levels. First, you’ll want to put down the actual shape of the ground, where the spawners and defense points go, the paths enemies take to get between them and the places where players will be able to put down traps. Next are the enemies themselves. You can actually modify the special abilities of each individual monster if you like, then organize them into groups that come out in a specific order. Then, the Wave Editor allows you to send groups along the paths you set up on the map at set moments in time, letting you swarm players or space the enemies out depending on your intent. Finally, you’ll add a name, description and the amount of resources that are available in the map, and can then test or publish it.

Deathtrap | Big GolemSome player maps are gimmicky, while others are nearly as good as what Neocore has to offer. There are also many different setups dedicated to letting a character grind away for gold and equipment drops for their character. While I haven’t actually done any of this serious grinding myself, I find it quite interesting — and promising for the game — that, although that is the natural thing that creators would go after, there is a variety of different types of maps that are supposedly optimized for it. To me, that speaks to a really healthy number of different play styles that are all effective.

Once again, it is important to note that this is an Early Access version of Deathtrap. With the addition of a co-op mode, a versus challenge in which one player actually takes control of the monsters, the third player class and a bigger main campaign, the full version promises to expand tremendously on the current one. Still, what we have here is already a really solid gameplay experience that’s only waiting for more substantial content to back it up.

Get a headstart on other players by grabbing it now on Steam for $19.99 USD.

Review copy supplied by publisher.

About Phil Schipper

Phil N. Schipper joined the Operation Rainfall staff to review Android games, but soon fell in love with writing news articles and Games of the Past. His dream is to make a living writing sci-fi and fantasy novels, which is why he leads the Obscure Authors Alliance in his free time. Still, even in his stories, which usually involve insane people, video games are one of his strongest influences. He describes himself as "a Mr. Nice Guy with a horrible, horrible dark side."