Battleship Lonewolf unites the tower defence and bullet hell genres in a unique fusion. But unique does not always equal good and in this case the novelty comes at the cost of a focused game that knows what it is and sticks with it.
Should You Buy It?
This one isn’t for everybody. If you were looking for a shooter, then Battleship Lonewolf isn’t the one for you. Fans of tower defence games may get some enjoyment from this, but not for long periods of time. For $15, you get a decent amount of content. The main campaign took me about six hours, and I spent a few more doing extra missions and survival. The question is, how many hours can you take before you get bored?
Battleship Lonewolf has a very simple gameplay concept, which works in its favour. It can look daunting at first, but the core elements are easy to grasp and implement. Every level starts with an interface that tower defence veterans will recognise. You install turrets on your ship to fend off waves of enemies that lie beyond.
The game quickly falls flat for fans of the genre. There is zero emphasis on turret placement or positioning. It doesn’t matter where you put your missile launcher, it has roughly the same effect. The anxiety of a good tower defence is absent. The joy of trying out different tower placements and combinations is non-existent.
That isn’t to say there isn’t fun to be had. With six turrets, each with their own abilities, there are numerous options available to the player. It doesn’t add a lot to the game, but it’s enough to keep me interested. You also have access to three unique skills with varying levels of usefulness which also add an element of resource management to the mix.
Once you click “start”, everything changes. Instead of a traditional tower defence, you get a bullet hell. A ship that you have full control over, with hordes of enemies attacking from all angles. Except, not quite like a bullet hell. I lied about having full control. You click on the screen, and the ship flies in that direction. It’s an awful way to move and makes dodging more frustrating that it needs to be.
You also don’t have to aim or shoot. Turrets auto-attack whenever an enemy is in range. All you have to do is click in the right direction so you don’t get pummelled by a hundred enemies. The lack of mobility fails to capture what actually makes bullet hell shooters fun.
40 Missions in 1
Battleship Lonewolf has a decent amount of content, with 40 missions and a survival mode. However, the missions lack any sort of variety and fail to challenge the player. Every mission is exactly the same. You fend off waves of enemies until a boss monster appears. And you use the same strategy every time. I would love to see some different objectives or missions.
Enemies come in two types, Flenaret battleships and alien creatures. Battleships are weak to physical damage and creatures are weak to optical. Pretty simple stuff that can make for some engaging battles. The problem is that every stage only has one enemy type. All you have to do is build either physical or optical damage for an easy win. And it’s like this for the first 30 missions making it all a bit of a bore.
Stages 31-40 mix things up by having both enemy types. But by the time I got to these challenge missions I was burnt out. These extra missions also need you to level up your ship’s parts as high as possible. You may have to grind.
The survival mode is a nice change of pace. You have to face both enemy types, so can’t stock up on a single counter. And enemies don’t drop Resources after you destroy them. You get a set amount at the end of each wave and have to make the most out of your limited Resources. And you get generous rewards if you manage to last for a few minutes. Perfect if you want to max out your ships’ stats.
Upgrading the Lonewolf, your ship, is an integral aspect of the game. The sheer number of factors you can upgrade is very impressive. The ships’ durability and attack power are some of the more useful ones but some don’t work as well as they should. By the end game my ship’s speed was Level 9 but didn’t feel any faster.
There is one upgrade which towers above the rest. The ship’s base which increases the number of turrets you can equip. These upgrades are very expensive. But when I had nine weapons installed on the Lonewolf at once I had to smile. After hours of playing through the same levels I had become the “mothership. Until I got my ass kicked by challenge levels.
The mandatory nature of these upgrades is a downside. I have no problem with games that require you to level up or grind a little. I’m used to it. My problem is when upgrades are prioritised over skill or strategy. I was able to muscle through most of the game by adding more guns to my ship. It just fails to challenge the player in a meaningful way.
This also brings up a nitpick of mine. The currency you use during levels are Resources. The currency you use to upgrade your ship is also called Resources. They have the same name and same icon yet they’re different currencies and overlap. I find this very peculiar. It isn’t as confusing as it sounds, I can assure you, but a strange design choice nonetheless.
Battleship Lonewolf looks pretty good in action. The stages capture the essence of being alone in space perfectly. Each of the four chapters also have different backgrounds, so you won’t have to look at the same thing all the time. The ship is big enough to see clearly amidst the chaos.
The enemy design doesn’t fare as well. They look very generic and there’s a lot of recolouring. Even the bosses aren’t that impressive. They’re just slightly bigger versions of normal enemies. The only good designs are the motherships you fight at the end of each chapter. Nothing spectacular, but they do stand out in this particular game.
The music is also very average with nothing memorable. There’s only one track per chapter so the same song plays for 10 missions before changing. By the end I turned off the sound and put something else on in the background. Disappointed but not terrible.
The presentation gets the job done for what Battleship Lonewolf is trying to achieve. There isn’t anything here that will capture you. But it’s clear and runs at a stable 30 frames per second. I do wish the game had a better cursor; it likes to blend in with the background during chaotic moments. I often lost track of it and clicked the wrong skill by accident.
The Score – 59
Battleship Lonewolf introduces an interesting concept by combining two genres. There’s a lot of polish and some solid mechanics. The restrictions in the gameplay and customisation are disappointing. And while I did have fun at times, nothing about it was memorable. The developers shouldn’t give up on this idea and instead make a refined sequel that fixes this game’s flaws. For now, we have an average game.