Kaiju Panic is as quirky and panic-inducing as its name suggests. In an interesting blend of action RTS and tower defense, players take control of a field commander in an alternate reality where strange monsters known as Kaiju are rampaging across the globe. Armed with an arsenal of weapons and turrets and with an oddball team of helpful civilians and their pets at your command, you must rid the world of the cutest monsters you’ve ever seen. However, don’t let the game’s sweet exterior fool you, Kaiju Panic is solid. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.
Here’s what I liked:
Adorable graphics — Kaiju is a Japanese word that literally translates to “strange beast,” and unquestionably Kaiju Panic’s art style has been inspired from popular anime and manga. The bright and vibrant graphics are the game’s standout feature, and I almost felt sorry for the uber cute, bouncing chibi monsters I was tasked with defeating. The main story is played out in a fun comic strip style before each new area, and maps have been designed as vibrant colourful playgrounds. The graphics translate well on the Xbox One console with not a screen tear or dropped frame in sight.
Monster content — Game length is often a contentious issue with gamers. UK based-developer Mechabit, however, has ensured Kaijui Panic is loaded with content. There are six areas with five fairly lengthy maps to play through in each. Replayability is high, and it is likely you will need to complete each a few times to unlock all characters and weapons and to complete the awesome bestiary. Between each level you can visit the engineering lab to unlock new weapons and read up on the Kaiju you have discovered. Killing Kaiju earns you “Science Points,” which are spent on more advanced weapons and research programs to aid you in battle.
Attention to detail — Each civilian you rescue is automatically logged in a Civilian Database, and it’s worthwhile spending some time reading through all their ID cards. Most have amusing and delightful descriptions such as Mi-hi who “stubbornly refuses to believe VHS is over” and Conrad who “really wants to take his one year old to work everyday”. However, there are a few characters who, if placed in the correct turret, can increase firepower or decrease build and repair times, adding an extra layer of depth to your strategies. Similarly, the killing Kaiju will increase your knowledge of these creatures and allow you to store their details in the bestiary database. Gotta catch ’em all!
Keeping up with the Joneses — The game was updated a few times during the course of my review to add balance and extra features. There is also a promised daily endless mode and local co-op still to come. Whilst I can’t review what is not in the current build, if Mechabit can follow through with continued support for this game, it’ll shape up to be great value for the money.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Early difficulty spike — Panic is definitely the keyword when playing Kaiju Panic, and I will fully admit to throwing a wobble around area two where I was surprised by a steep difficulty curve presented from there on. The difficulty mainly stems from the game’s design whereby the Kaiju seem to take any random route to your base, making your plans and strategies trial and error-based. Most levels beyond the first area will need to be replayed as the game throws you in at the deep end and likes to keep you in the dark. You’re not told which weapons are strong against each Kaiju until you’ve killed at least one, and often the weapon needed can’t be unlocked until much later in the game. During the course of my playthrough, Mechabit released a game update that brought a new “pathway indicator” to help with this very issue; unfortunately its usefulness was somewhat lacking as it seemed to forget to warn me in the latter waves when I needed it most.
I have to walk? — As with most RTS and tower defense games there is an element of resource gathering. In Kaiju Panic crystals are king and players must build harvesters to acquire these. As Kaiju Panic focuses the game on action and panic, players are required to collect these crystals by physically walking over them. This adds an extra layer of frustration when building turrets, particularly during intense parts of the game. To find that you are short on resources at a crucial moment and forced to walk to the other end of the map and back again is more annoying than challenging — especially when your character has a habit of getting stuck between trees and buildings.
There’s a lot to like about Kaiju Panic, and Mechabit seems to be keen on continually improving the game, which is always a good thing. More casual gamers should be cautious before making the jump, however, as despite the cutesy look, the gameplay intensity is often so high that I found it difficult to play for any great length of time in each sitting. Panic by name and panic by nature. (Seriously this should have come with a health warning!) But the vibrant graphics and design will surely melt even the most cynical gamers’ hearts, and the surprising depth and challenging gameplay will keep the hardcore happy for a long time.
Score: Buy It
Kaiju Panic was developed and published by Mechabit Ltd. It was released October 9, 2015 for $15.99. A copy was provided by Mechabit for review purposes.