Review: Trenched

on June 30, 2011 11:00 AM

Trenched is the latest game from the infamous Double Fine team, once again bringing an absolutely absurd premise that caught the attention of everybody right from the beginning. Trenched is essentially a tower defense game where you pilot a giant mech suit on the battlefield against the waves of incoming enemies. But really, it’s so much more than that. Featuring an incredible level of customization and built from the ground up to take full advantage of a co-operative experience, Trenched is another game not to be missed from this amazing team.

I can’t even try to pretend to hide how much I love this game. Read on to see why I’m calling this one of the best co-op experiences of the year thus far. Review: Trenched

The heart of Trenched is the huge amount of customization available to you. This begins with choosing the chassis for your Trench which will limit the amount and type of weapons and turrets you can equip. This essentially breaks down into three categories; Assault (which gets big weapons but few turret options), Standard (which is of course balanced), and Engineer (many turrets and options, but few weapon slots).

Selecting the proper balance of weapons and turrets is absolutely vital in completing a given level. Each level features a “suggested gear” list at the top which is usually wise to listen to, as it can give hints as to what kind of enemies you’ll be facing in a given level. Of course you don’t have to take along the recommended equipment, and you’ll almost certainly find a better setup than the suggestion to take eventually, but its not a bad idea to listen at least on the first time.

As you progress through the levels you’ll slowly be introduced to more different enemies for you to take on, and with these come an increased difficulty in the game. The more devastating of these come with their own special abilities which will greatly increase the need for proper weapon and turret selection. With specialties ranging from taking out your turrets or kamikaze rushing you, to spawning smaller enemies on the field or disabling nearby turrets, the later levels definitely keep you on your toes.

Review: Trenched

The difficulty ramps up fairly steadily as you’re introduced to new enemies with different tactics or even just levels with strange layouts or multiple targets to defend. Some will feature two or three different places to defend at once, or some will force you to move to a different part of the map at a certain point to defend a new target.

The HUD is incredibly valuable with keeping up with the chaos on-screen, and your eyes will need to keep a sharp eye on the various bits of information scattered about. The standards are of course your health and the health of the target you’re defending but there’s also a dial telling you how many waves are left. More importantly, at the start of each wave and whenever new enemies spawn, text will flash at the spawn location telling you what type of enemies are coming in.

Things can get a little hectic and the more difficult levels will require all of your concentration as you have to focus on placing and upgrading turrets and defending from multiple different routes of attack at once. This of course adds to the fun of the game overall, and scrambling to defend attacks from four different groups of enemies at once is exhilarating to say the least.

Review: Trenched

There’s a large variety of both weapons and turrets for you to equip to your Trench, which itself will be vastly different from one person to another with the number of chassis and leg options. Some of these will all be bought in the in-game store, but most of your equipment will be earned through unlocks in the levels and for completing challenges.

As is to be expected, the best gear is only available from random drops in levels. This, combined with the vast amount of equipment you can potentially earn in a single level practically makes the store pointless. If you do decide to buy something, chances are you’ll find something of equal or greater power very shortly after.

Turrets cost a certain number of scrap to place, which is the currency used on the battlefield and is dropped by defeated enemies. Some weapons will cause more scrap to appear for each kill, but the only way to gather scrap is to pick it up. Your trench has a magnetic field available by pressing the right bumper which will draw in scrap, or you can place a special magnetic turret that will do that work for you.

Turrets can be upgraded a total of two times increasing their power or effectiveness each time, and generally speaking it’s better to upgrade a turret rather than buy a new one. A machine gun might upgrade from doing three damage to doing nine for the same price as buying a new one, and even higher for the final upgrade. Of course deciding when to place a new turret and when to upgrade one is all part of the strategy game, and the right or wrong decisions will greatly affect your success.

Review: Trenched

The game is plenty of fun by yourself, but very similar to Left 4 Dead the true heart of the game is in co-op, where you can team up with up to three other players. The co-op begins in the mech building phase, as you’ll want to make sure your team covers a variety of different weapons and turrets to take on each level. Scrap is shared between all players, so proper coordination with your teammates will be incredibly important in placing the right turrets at the right spots.

Some enemies will drop a random “loot box” upon their defeat, which will award you a random item at the end of the level. Just like the scrap these must be physically touched for you to pick them up, and in co-op grabbing one gives each player a random reward so nobody gets shafted by one person hogging all the loot.

Unfortunately the one place the game lacks customization is in the levels themselves. With only fifteen levels, you’ll see everything Trenched has to offer in a short amount of time. While replaying to unlock new items, try out different setups or just for fun still hasn’t gotten old for me, it would be nice to have a custom game option or even a survival mode. Perhaps these are things we might see in a future DLC.

Review: Trenched

With plenty of gameplay even if you’re playing solo and tons of unlockable items, there’s a lot of action here for everybody. Take that online with your friends and you’re looking at yet another extremely solid experience from the team at Double Fine. Some more options in custom games or special modes would have been nice, but doesn’t take away from how solid the core experience is.

Once again Double Fine has crafted an experience that’s not to be missed. With the addicting and strategic core of a tower defense mixed with some incredibly fun mech shooting, Trenched is another stunning success. You’ll want to take the game online to get the full experience and while you’ll reach the maximum level and unlock everything pretty quickly, I think this one will remain pretty popular for a long time.

  • Title: TrenchedReview: Trenched
  • Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
  • Developer: Double Fine Productions
  • Publisher: Xbox Live Arcade
  • Release Date: June 22, 2011
  • MSRP:$14.99 / 1200 Microsoft Points
  • Review Copy Info: A download code for this title was provided to DualShockers, Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
 /  Staff Writer
John is what you might call something of a badass. When he's not writing about games or playing them, he's playing in the Kansas City band "Documentary" and drinking as many different beers as often as he can. He's a huge comic nerd in the best sense of the term, with a particular love for the Creator Owned movement.