Feeling a little downtrodden? Forces of Goodness and Justice got you down? Then let Cellar Door Games give you a little push towards the dark side with their new strategy/ne'er-do-well simulator Villainous, that puts you in control of a growing army of evil forces that are out to ruin someone's day. Your rise to power might be a rocky one, and you might have to endure a little taunting from the Forces of Light in the beginning, but it's like my Grandma always says... all work and hellish behemoths makes a smoldering crater where a smug kingdom used to be!
Just think of playing Villainous as being on the other side of the table in a tower defense game. Instead of placing little turrets that spit projectiles at incoming baddies, it's your job to summon in hordes of evil beasties that will swarm along the path in each level to raid the village at the end in order to earn sweet, sweet infamy (cash!). Villainous is mouse driven, so you'll be doing a lot of clicking; first, you'll choose what troops you want to summon from your available creatures from the right side of the screen, and click them in the order you'd like them to appear. This is important, since only goblins can actually raid a village, but they're fairly weak and tend to need some muscle to get them past your enemy's defenses. Send a Mammoth Turtle out in front of them to soak some damage, for example, and they just may make it to the hapless villagers. As time passes, you'll also amass mana that can be spent on various spells with the click of a button.
Your goal is ultimately to survive as many waves as possible, which is easier said than done since things get more difficult the longer a particular stage goes on; each wave increases the damage towers deal to your units, which makes it even more important to be careful who you send, and in what order. Fortunately, even if a minion is blown to smithereens, their death isn't in vain; use your mouse to snag the coins and infamy they drop to be spent on various upgrades between stages. Not only will you be able to make weak units stronger, but you can also buy spells that will help your units on the battlefield, and even sway more powerful creatures to come to your aid. Turns out even giant monsters turtles are all about the Hamiltons. Of course, don't think your foes aren't going to be making some improvements of their own as time goes by either...
Analysis: The presentation here is absolutely fantastic, largely due to a lot of little touches that really seal the whole package, like the Eye of Sauronish that follows your mouse movements on the battlefield. It's an incredibly detailed little game, which each unit and tower looking and sounding distinct. Trust me, that's a big one, and helps keep the game from feeling repetitive; a sinkhole other games in the genre don't always avoid. Besides, you've gotta admit; that soundtrack is great. Don't you feel like sieging something right now? Hold on, let me get my smartphone, and then I can submit a video of it after to Web Soup... no, no, it's cool, I'm sure you'll do great, I bet you're awesome at sieging! (Man, we are gonna be so famous... )
The spin on the tower defense genre is a clever one, and Villainous neatly sidesteps the confusion this might generate by including one of the best tutorials I've seen implemented in a flash game in a long time, eschewing the wall of text or typical "instructions" screen for some concise windows during gameplay that take you through the motions without bombarding you with information. (Seriously, developers; more helpful tutorials like this. Seriously.) But while Villainous will take some getting used to, it is entirely worth the effort. While it lacks the satisfaction one gets from really eradicating your foes off the map, it's an all around great strategy title whose increasing difficulty and varied units really requires you to think before you ultimately send your devoted followers to an untimely death. (What?! It was in the contract!... in the fine, fine, fine print... )
With a whole pack of upgrades and medals to earn, Villainous will keep you busy for quite some time if it manages to get its claws into you. Despite not having a tremendously large rogue's gallery of monsters to choose from, the upgrades, spells, and positioning manages to pull off a remarkable amount of strategic potential that can provide a challenge to veterans with a hankering for high scores, while still remaining accessible to Lords of Darkness who are just getting their training wheels. If you've ever thought you had what it takes to lead an army of monstrosities, now's your chance to prove it, and make a name and a fortune for yourself in the process.