A.R.M. is a Fresh Take on Tower Defense

Earlier this month I wrote about Alien Robot Monsters, or A.R.M., and its then upcoming Steam release (which was Sept. 10th) for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS and Android devices. Before reading this article, I recommend giving my previous article a look for more in-depth information regarding A.R.M. As promised, I’ve given A.R.M. a playthrough and here are my thoughts on it!

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of A.R.M. from the PR for Kraftix Game’s A.R.M.

Remember How I Said Tower Defense?

A.R.M. is definitely a tower defense game chock-full of upgrades, leveling opportunities, and dipped in sci-fi content. Players are thrown into the classic sci-fi tale about our exploration among the stars, searching for other habitable zones to continue the human race along. We’ve seen some things in our time in space and have engaged in troublesome warfare. Some years after wartime has long passed (or so we think), we have found the perfect spot but the natives, for some reason, just don’t want to give it up and are willing to put up quite the fight to preserve it for their own. Naturally, we bring out the big guns and chaos ensues which we know as A.R.M., Alien Robot Monsters.

So, the gameplay/battling in A.R.M. takes place on a massive island with 31 levels (and 6 bonus ones) for the player to work through, each one more difficult and complicated than the last. Players are introduced to different types of upgradable technology progressively level by level and soon discover the 23 different tower variations with 60 upgrades A.R.M. has to offer.

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For each level, players have a limited amount of scrap metal to utilize (consider it currency) to construct towers of different variations. Now, some of the tower options include marines for ground-based combat, marines shooting from towers, and even aerial assaults by drones (with lasers!). Each tower type is completely upgradable with different options ranging from increasing range, damage, defense, etc. I would almost describe the upgrades as a tier system in one respect where one tower type must maximize its available upgrades before developing into a different tower type after that. Now, if for some reason we’re really itching for more scrap metal to beef up a tower or we made a fatal error in judgement regarding our tower choices, we can simply deconstruct them, salvage some of the scrap, and contribute it wherever necessary.

For each level, there is a specific amount of waves the “alien robot monsters” will charge through, usually hanging around 7-10 waves. The entire goal of the level is to hold off the waves and annihilate them prior to reaching the remaining marines/humans residing off of the map. If any A.R.M.s get through, then our health bar in the top-right corner will deplete until eventually it’s diminished, at which point the level is an utter failure and we’re need to figure out what we did wrong with our tower setup, fix it, and destroy our A.R.M. enemies in a level restart.

At the conclusion of each level, depending on how successful the run-through was, players are given a 1-3 star rating. After each level, players can upgrade different types of marine-types, defense options, special abilities, all of which is divided into 18 overall upgrades with five upgradable options for each. These come majorly in handy for each level ahead.

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The Fine Details – My Thoughts

I’ve put in a couple hours into A.R.M. but admittedly did not complete my playthrough. However, despite getting stuck, I got a very good impression of what A.R.M. is about. So, the first thing I want to emphasize is how much fun I had playing A.R.M. In the past I’ve played a couple tower defense games made in Flash posted on sites like Newgrounds but I never really explored beyond that very much except the few I’ve written about on IndieRoot in the past.

The thing I find the most likable about A.R.M. is how sophisticated and well-polished it is when only priced at $5.99. I’m going to put on my car salesman hat here but for a relatively low price, the player gets a lot of fun gameplay that can go on for several hours (depending on how much difficulty you face). It seems like quite a steal.

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So, I felt pretty confident playing through the first 10 levels roughly when I hit a rough patch I’m still trying to get through. A.R.M. does demand a bit of strategic planning (and scrap budgeting) in its gameplay. I stress this because for the more advanced levels, placing a tower in a location too early or choosing a specific type can provide a weaker, inferior defense to, let’s say, a more upgraded tower located a few spots closer to the A.R.M. entry point. In my case, I found this to be the most challenging aspect of gameplay that I’m still struggling with. In the easier levels it’s less problematic and more straightforward given the limited options we have available to us at that point. But once we progress, it’s a completely different story and it’s time to put on our thinking caps.

But that may be the most enjoyable aspect of A.R.M., the player can create the defense however they wish and through trial and error they’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. The weaknesses of specific A.R.M. types will become apparent in time and with the proper layout of towers, we finally get it right. It’s a moment of triumph when the player finally nails that level that we’ve been repeatedly trying different tower setups on. For me, it’s the same scenario; a celebratory, “YES!” following every level. It was awesome.

Aside from gameplay, the aesthetics contributed even more to the overall playthrough experience positively. The music added onto the tense, fast-paced overall feeling of the playthrough and the art style was clean, crisp, and attractive. For lovers of tower defense games, A.R.M. may be a good choice to check out, especially considering the low price and the free availability for mobile devices. Lovers of strategy games may also take a liking to A.R.M. as it demands lots of planning.

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For More Information

A.R.M. is available on Steam priced at $5.99 USD (Deluxe priced at $7.99 and soundtrack at $4.99), available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Both the Android and iOS versions are available for free (with in-game purchases, though). For more information, check out the official websiteTwitter, and Facebook page.

Julie Morley

Founder/Editor/Sole Writer at IndieRoot.com
Favorite genre: Story-oriented/Narrative Driven. Point and Click. Adventure. Action-adventure. Sandbox. Open world.
Favorite game(s): Gone Home, Life is Strange, Back to Bed, Transistor
Non-indie: Mafia II, L.A. Noire, Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle), The Assassin's Creed Series (mainly Brotherhood and Black Flag)

Worked for Cliqist.com from Jan 2013 to Februrary 2014.

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