Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Tentacle Wars ($0.99 iPad, $0.99 iPhone) is a real-time strategy game where your fingers are the only weapon to fight off a deadly alien disease. With an original game soundtrack and graphics optimized for an iPhone or iPad’s Retina display(s AAPL), you will become immersed in biological warfare at the cellular level.
The way you play the game is like some tower defense games, but in reverse. In Tentacle Wars you are the aggressor, not the defender. You find yourself in command of an antibody army. In this microscopic world of dividing cells, you reach out an antibody cell’s tentacle towards an invading cell. Once attached, the cells engage in a Risk-style battle. Each cell has an energy level much like the number of troops that occupy a territory in Risk. A cell with a higher energy number will drain the energy of a cell with a lower energy number. Once you have drained the attacking cell completely, you occupy that cell and it in turn becomes another antibody that you can command. You can even chain multiple cells together to accelerate the collective group’s ability to recharge and gain energy. The basic strategy is to attack and conquer the weakest enemy cells first before moving on to the larger more powerful cells. If you attack an enemy cell that has more energy that you do, you will be taken over and ultimately lose the level.
One challenge is that the length of the tentacle affects your antibody’s energy level. Stretching your tentacle towards an invading cell that is close may only take five energy points. If it is farther away, it could take 15 energy points, or even be too far away and the tentacle will recoil. If you cannot reach, you must either wait until your energy level increases, or look for a nearby gray neutral cell to conquer and occupy first before moving on. All cells will slowly gain energy as the game progresses, and by joining all of your cells together, you can increase your energy levels faster. As a means of introducing a strategic element in the game, each level has a different maximum energy level that any one cell can achieve.
There are currently 40 single-player levels that add complexity in several unique and challenging ways. Increasing the distance between cells will require more energy to move from one cell to the next. The introduction of barriers that inhibit tentacles from passing through creates obstacles on the battlefield that you will need to plan your attack around. Some levels even create multiple smaller enemy cells or just a few strategically placed big cells which will alter your approach. There are even times when the battlefield is full of neutral gray cells that you must gain control of before the enemy does.
What makes this game great and extends the overall replay factor is a multiplayer mode where you can go head to head against another person. Think of the single-player mode as a training ground for the multiplayer mode. Tentacle Wars uses GameCenter to establish a connection with an opponent. This means that you can play against any of your online friends no matter where they are. You start the arena-style challenge by select the layout of the battlefield and choosing your color. While you may be able to figure out how to beat the game on all of the levels in the single-payer game, it is quite a different story when you play against someone else as strategies adapt each time you enter the arena. This weekend, see if you can have a friend join you in this unique head-to-head, real-time strategy world of Tentacle Wars.