Deathtrap is more RPG than tower defense and a much the better game for it. Play a Mercenary, Sorceress or Marksman, each with its own abilities and talent trees and set traps, both ground traps and towers, also with available upgrades via a skill tree to defeat waves on enemies on map after map. Heroes also have upgradeable gear dropping as loot, purchasable available in a store or it can be crafted with recipes that drop from enemies.
I enjoy both RPGs and tower defense games – they’re two of my favourite genres – and the advantage of combining both is that there is never the sit-and-watch phase of a tower defense game, there is just too much to do whilst running or teleporting between different paths of enemies to make sure none reach the portal at the end. Deathtrap is a good game within the genre and it particularly shines when playing with friends either coop or PvP.
Single player: The single player campaign is a series of increasingly difficult maps usually with 5 waves of enemies on each map. Traps and characters earn points with each level that can be spent on upgrades and loot drops from the stronger enemies at the end of waves. I thoroughly enjoyed the first few hours, but after that it started to feel repetitive and even the promise of upgrades or good loot was not enough to keep me focused.
Cooperative campaign: The cooperative campaign maps are the same as the single player and it is was not possible for a coop partner to jump into the game unless they had already progressed to the same level I was at. I created a different character for coop and started over at the first map. The maps do adapt to more players and it is a lot more fun to play with the levels becoming more chaotic as multiple players try to cut down the swarming waves of enemies coming from all directions. It gets even better when working with a partner so that you don’t upgrade the same trap skills, but each specialize in different trap upgrades to maximize the benefit.
Player versus player: One player controls the enemies whilst the other defends as usual. The player attacking has the ability to possess and control any particular enemy and use specific abilities to increase its attack power.
Build-your-own-maps and monsters: There is a map creator included in the game that lets players build their own maps. Start by laying out a path, adds portals and towers, then create the enemies, organize them in waves, hit finish and the process is complete. It is an easy to use editor that’s great fun to play with.
Deathtrap has features that will impact on players with a visual impairment, colour blindness or photophobia (light sensitivity), but the obstacles are not insurmountable, but do make the game more challenging, but still fun.
It is definitely more challenging to play with a mild to moderate visual impairment. The text is in a cursive font, varies in size and mostly against a static darker background. I found the smaller text, like that of the settings menu and some of the UI elements, quite difficult to read. Interactive elements and targeted enemies are highlighted and easy to see, but some enemies blend into the background and I had to keep a close eye on the red dots on the map to spot them. The cursor is not adjustable and I lost it often against a very similar looking background. The audio cues do help and alerted me to important events, sometimes outside my viewpoint or that I just didn’t notice visually.
Colour is used extensively, but rarely as the only indicator. Information is displayed graphically, ice traps and spells are blue, fire traps and abilities red and poisons green, but these are just visually effects. The health bar is red, the mana bar blue, but they are different sizes and in set locations in the user interface. Indicator bars are colour coded, but also drains out. Enemies on the map are red dots and friendlies are green dots, which is the only place I found colour to matter.
Motion (simulation) sickness and balance disorders
The isometric viewpoint helps, but at times the awkward angles it creates, particularly when enemies are approaching from the bottom of the screen, can make it difficult to keep the character in one place because movement and the basic attack are tied to the same controls. If the player character ends up running and back and forth, motion sickness becomes an issue. Click on the enemy and she attacks, miss the enemy and she runs to the clicked tile, click on a more distant tile to get her out of attack range again, then target an enemy and hope not to miss or the running back and forth repeats itself. For players who have no difficulty with targeting, motion sickness should not be a problem.
It is possible to play Deathtrap with hearing loss, as a deaf player or without sound for whatever reason, but it is more challenging without sound. Audio cues do not always have a visual counterpart and although they are not vital to game mechanics, they are helpful. There is no subtitles for dialogue, but the only dialogue is the main character voicing audio cues.
Volume can be adjusted with five sliders – master, music, sound effects, battle sounds and terrain sounds. I found it useful to turn off the music, turn up the sound effects, battle sound and terrain sound. At times where enemies were camouflaged by the background, I could hear them approach and most have distinctive audio cues, letting me know what was approaching.
Players with hyperacusis may have some difficulty playing with sound, there are many audio effects that overlap, but turning off the sound is a viable option.
The multiplayer does not require audio communication and when joining up with random players, I had no difficulty working as a team without verbal or typed communication. It was certainly easier, particular on higher difficulty levels to have access to voice chat, but it is not a requirement.
Input and Touch
Deathtrap requires a moderate to high level of both precision and timing. The easier settings are forgiving, the controls remappable, windowed mode is available, but there is no way around the requirements and anyone with a moderate to severe physical impairment, tremor or lack of coordination or control will find it challenging.
A moderate to high level of precision is required to play Deathtrap. Enemies have to be targeted and they are moving targets. Enemies also attack and it is vital to move out of the way in between attacks to avoid incoming damage. There is no aim assist to help and sensitivity cannot be adjusted in the settings.
A moderate level of responsiveness is required to be able to move, attack and avoid incoming damage appropriately.
The controls are easy to use, mostly mouse based with a few numerical attack keys and all keys are remappable. I struggled with the controls because the game is centred around clicking to both move and attack and some actions, like teleportation is bound to a key press on mouseover (by default it is middle mouse click on mouse over). I found the controls frustrating, wishing I could disable click-to-move and control my character just with the WASD keys and click to attack or access a portal (without needing an additional button press).
Windowed mode is available for those who use it and the single player campaign can be paused at any time if a break is needed.
Ease of Use
Deathtrap is quite complicated to play. An extensive text-based tutorial through pop-ups walks players through the basics (it can be skipped) and there is a lot of information to continuously keep track of through the user interface. There are different difficulty settings and on the easiest setting, it is possible to put down traps inbetween waves and then just point and shoot at anything that moves without paying any attention to other information.
On the harder difficulty settings, timing is everything and it presents quite the challenge to juggle all the details and play strategically. Memory is not important, all information is provided through the user interface with real time updates of enemy waves, numbers, abilities available and their cooldowns and more.
The map is integral to game play, but it is not pingable and finding a friend in need of assistance can be difficult.
Language and Math
A reasonable reading level is required to play Deathtrap as all information is text based and there is quite a lot of it. Some understanding of math is needed to manage the character’s budget and inventory with gear upgrades displayed numerically.
The single player campaign does not require any interaction with other players. Playing coop or PvP requires some interaction and cooperation, however voice communication is optional.
Trigger warnings & age ratings
There are no specific sensitive themes in the game, but it is a typical tower defense where players are killing hundreds to thousands of enemies in many, varied violent ways.
Deathtrap is a well made tower defense RPG packed with content. The isometric viewpoint gives a dungeon crawler feel to it, but it also obscures enemies entering from the rear and can make targeting a challenge. I enjoyed playing it, except for the fact that moving and auto-attack was bound to the same key and with a ranged character in particular, unless your aim is perfect, she ends up running constantly toward the enemy you’re trying to target. There is plenty of single player content, but play it with friends, that’s when the maps come alive – made for the chaos created by multiple paths, multiple streams of enemies and multiple players trying to stay on top of it all. If you enjoy the genre, you’ll enjoy Deathtrap. It’s a pleasure to play.
Product: Deathtrap | Developer: Neocore Games | Publisher: Neocore Games | Platform: PC (Steam) | Genre: RPG Tower Defense | Players: Single Player, Co-op, Versus | Version: Europe | Release Date: 4 February 2015 |Content Rating: not rated