In general, I am not good with plants. My best efforts at providing them with a loving, nurturing environment seems to do little more than depress them, leaving me with planters full of dejected looking, wilted brown foliage that probably long for that one last sunset to end their suffering. So naturally, when I heard that Burstyx Studio had created a defense game centered around, essentially, caring for an enormous plant, I was a bit apprehensive. Thankfully, it turns out BigTree Defense is a bit less complicated than caring for an actual living thing. But only just.
The gist is this; evil alien bugs are swarming towards the last plant on Earth, and you have to defend it by making it grow larger so you have room to place various pods that attack the bugs. Click on the plant to grow or heal it, and click on the red nodes that pop up to either place a plant pod, or grow a branch. Killing a bug grants you water, which you use to both heal your plant and purchase upgrades. Completing a level earns you points that you use to buy new pod types, or upgrade your existing ones. You have a limited number of pod types you can equip each stage, and choosing the correct ones is part of the strategy.
See, you aren't just dealing with any old bugs here. Each one has its own weaknesses and flying pattern, and slapping down whatever pod you have available is a good way to see your hit points vanish and your BigTree topple to the dust. Your pods all have various helpful abilities, but they have limited range, so you'll need to think carefully about which ones you put down and where. Don't worry if you fail a level; you'll still get some points for it to spend when you try again. Hooray, failure!
Analysis: It's a clever concept, growing your own base of operations, and BigTree allows for a fair amount of customisation. Sort of. While you can build the labyrinthine, skyward-straining plant of your dreams, you'll soon discover that if you aren't thinking and planning out your progress you'll lose quite quickly. Most levels, in fact, will probably require at least one retry; strategy and planning plays an enormous part in your success, and figuring out the best approach for each level requires some trial and error. I actually wish the game had been presented in a bit more of a cheesy, 1950's style science fiction movie that would have gone over well ("BUGS... FROM... SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!") than its current look and feel, but there is something appealing about its dreamlike aesthetic. Um, presuming your appealing dreams involve masses of giggling, bloodsucking insects swarming all over you, their tiny little legs crawling over your skin and... eeeughgughgughugh.
The problem is that BigTree doesn't control nearly as smoothly as it should, making on-the-fly strategic changes somewhat awkward to implement. When things get frantic and the enemies start swarming in bigger numbers, it can get difficult to click on the right spots on your plant since the little nodes can be finicky about just where you put your cursor. The branches themselves are particularly fiddly. Maybe if your plant's growth carried on into the next stage, rather than requiring you to start from scratch each time?
Defense games have a bad rap, and it seems all you have to do is say the "D" word to watch lips begin to curl and noses begin to lift upward. This is partly due to the fact that they appeal to a certain group of people, and partly because they all look and play so much alike that the vast majority of them are practically interchangeable. BigTree Defense offers a slightly different take on the genre, with some clever mechanics that, although tripped up a little by some clunky controls, makes for an altogether more . It's also really, really weird. It's not quite as instantly accessible as that other plant defense game you may have heard of, but it's a clever new twist on an old concept that should offer enough challenge for fans. And the next time someone asks how your garden is growing, you can just show them your lush browser to downplay the shame of your sad, neglected, patchy back yard. Bonus!