When you think of games Double Fine and the people behind the company have created in the past, you think of quirky, stylized and unique adventure games, aimed at subtle humour and exploration. What you don’t think of is a Tower Defense game; but that is exactly what Trenched is.
When I asked a friend of mine, who had been following the development of the game, what Trenched was all about, he told me: “It’s like a tower defense game with mech thingy things from like the 40s.” After checking to make sure I had not suffered an aneurysm due to the total vagueness of what he said, I decided to check it out for myself. I was never really a fan of tower defense, although I had never played one before, I knew I didn’t care for RTS games, and it seemed like these were just another version of such. After playing the South Park game released in 2009 on XBLA, Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!, and thoroughly enjoying it, I changed my mind..
Trenched greeted me with a story about a WW2 type solider with his legs crushed under a tank, yet still holding the American flag (they weren’t being subtle). The story, without going too much into details, is about two soldiers who discover a broadcast. One it doesn’t seem to effect, other almost kills him. The other solider however, turns into a mad-man who is hell-bent on broadcasting the message to the world. He creates these machines out of wires and monitors that they call Tubes. Using these he plans to take down all your bases, and thus, overrun the earth.
You start out on a beach, where Frank Woodruff (the dude whose legs were crushed by that tank earlier) tells you how he invented a mech-type vehicle, which they call a Mobile Trench; this will be what you use throughout the game. You can customize chassis, paint jobs, and legs. Different chassis allow more or less equipment slots and the different weapons you can use. The larger artillery weapons use three slots with the maximum slots available being three for each side of your trench. I myself painted my trench neon pink with the biggest damned guns available. Not sure if that was the best strategy, but I finished the game, so it's good enough for me.
While fighting enemies you collect scrap from them and this is used to build up your defenses. You can call in machine guns, flak turrets, mortar strikes, sound wave devices to slow your enemies and even a magnet to help you collect scrap automatically. While you can build up a good bit of defense with emplacements alone, unlike most tower defense games, you will also have to be on constant attack.
Lucky for you, the game allows four-player online co-op, so you’ll never have to fight alone. One drawback is that it doesn’t allow for more than one player locally, so no couch co-op, which is always a sad thing. The way the online works however is done particularly well. Single player or online you start on an aircraft carrier, with ports for four mobile trenches. You have a map which is used for selecting your mission and a radio room used to find or invite other players. Once a player joins, they ride into an empty port with their custom trench. Each player can freely walk around in a customizable solider and choose the mission, or check out each other’s trenches. You can even salute your brothers in arms by pressing right trigger at any time while on the aircraft carrier. This is the only part of the game where I ran into trouble. A few times the game would countdown to a mission start, then just reset, over and over, forcing me to restart the game in order to get it working. It has also glitched my trench into some configuration I never had, and I was forced to re-edit it back to how I had it before joining a game.
Overall Trenched is a fun action game that can require teamwork and planning to complete with the highest rating, that being a gold medal. It has a few online issues, but is still very enjoyable - and with a good four hour campaign if you blaze through it. The game is very replayable, especially with the medal and challenge systems; plenty of unlockables to be had.
Let's just hope they work out the copyright issues, which Microsoft is saying they are, and it becomes available to Europe.