This can be to the game's detriment. One of its finest features is a ludicrously sprawling tech tree, with each completed level offering you a choice of several upgrades, new buildings or iterative steps towards something über. The freedom is rewarding, but it can feel as though all upgrades are equal, but some upgrades are more equal than others. Ultimately, almost anything can kill almost anything given enough time, but dealing with certain types of Titan efficiently requires specific tools.
For instance, the spectral ones, evocative of Pac-Man's nemeses, can cause you a whole world of pain unless you've researched the Capacitor, an especially unusual turret in that you aim and fire its electro-death bolts manually. Trouble is, you need to have bought two or three particular previous upgrades in order to unlock it, and these don't offer especially meaty immediate benefits – and unless you've played through before, you don't know that you need the Capacitor until the ghosties are at your doorstep.
That said, I did make it through enough ghost-strewn levels without the Capacitor to eventually unlock it. Brute force can get you surprisingly far here. You'll make a dreadful mess, but you will make it. Even if you can't, failed levels can be re-tackled at lower difficulties at the expense of one of those willy-waving Medals. Revenge of the Titans can lean towards the frustrating, but in the event you simply can't man up and beat it, there's always a gentler path.
Titans has been continually honed during approximately 38 million years in beta, and it shows. It's fast and fluid and enthusiastically punishing, while forever offering clear, varied and rewarding ways in which you could maybe kick its arse this time, if only you just tried this, or this, or that. While the chunky sprite graphics might suggest something simple and straightforward, in fact it's elaborate and wound pocket-watch-tight.
The intensity rises at a careful incline, the various turrets and upgrades are tailored to be visually very similar yet immediately recognisable, and those damnable Titans behave in a spiky, murderous manner that's dramatically far from the silent, mindless march through certain death that so characterises tower defence.
Revenge of the Titans is a clever, huge and charming strategy game. While the puritanical focus on retro minimalism means it might not be as rich in visual variety as its contemporaries, the breadth of the strategy coolly grants it safe harbour from the grey reaper of rinse'n'repeat boredom. With a steady trickle of new enemy types, an evolving arsenal of combinable weapons and the persistent promise of yet more new toys on the horizon, it's likely to suck away fat globules of your time before you know what's happened.
While mainstream strategy largely continues to gnaw upon the desiccated husk of Command & Conquer, and so much indie strategy simply slaps new graphics on tower defence mechanics, Revenge of the Titans is, apparently quite effortlessly, doing its own thing.
8 / 10