Stenches takes you to Europe and drops you back into muddy Trenches of World War I, to wage war against a gruesome and hungry horde of Zombies. That’s right, the team at Thunder Game Works has taken the beloved zombie hordes from their first game Trenches, and expanded the action into a sequel appropriately called Stenches. For those of you not familiar with Trenches, it (along with Stenches) is a castle defense game, which is also part real time strategy, and part path drawing. You must command your army, deploying, positioning, fortifying, advancing and sometimes even retreating to stay alive and keep your head about you (quite literally).
The story is as follows….you are the fearless British Commander of the British Royal Expeditionary army and you are in the thick of battle during World War I. Under attack from a relentless Zombie Horde, you must take your last stand against the Armies of the Hundead to save Western Europe from becoming a zombie buffet.
The controls are fairly simple and similar to those of most games in the castle defense genre. Across the bottom of the screen you have icons representing the various resources which can be deployed along with dollar values for each. Once you have enough money, you simply tap on the button to buy that particular resource and the troops will be deployed. It will then take some time for the purchased unit to regenerate and become purchasable again. Once deployed, you can touch and drag the troops to position them where you want, or to navigate them around razor wire, which will otherwise slow their progress. As you lead your armies to the right, they will disappear off screen. To follow the action you can simply swipe left and right on the top of the screen to move up and down the battlefield. The game also employs a few tow finger gestures for quickly advancing, retreating or hold troops’ positions. You collect money by tapping on coins which appear when a zombie is killed.
There are a number of different resources available including riflemen, engineers and other forms of artillery and infantry each with their own abilities, price, pros and cons. For instance there riflemen who ar quick and fight fairly effectively, these are great for qucikly getting some inexpensive troops to the front line. There are also more expensive troops like machine gunners which can do a lot of damage, but cost more. Engineer units can fortify the trenches to help protect your troops, or lay down wire to slow down the approaching zombies. Each deployed unit has a health status bar attached and as your soldiers fight, they will level up, increasing in strength and effectiveness. One nice unique aspect of this game compared to others in the genre is the concept of a commander. Your soldiers actually fight better when in the presence of a commander, adding a bit more strategy to the game.
There are two game modes to choose from, waves and distance. In waves, you must survive 20 increasingly intensive waves of zombies to win. Players can choose between 3 different difficultly levels as well as 4 different maps. In my opinion, Easy mode was a bit too easy, not even requiring you to really move your troops much as long as you built up a good base of troops in the earlier waves. The other difficulties do put up a nice challenge though. There are some devious elements like lightning and zombies rising out of grave stones which will get you if you are not paying attention. In distance mode, you are basically trying to advance your troops as far as possible down the battlefield. Stenches is Game Center enabled and has 16 achievements, but surprisingly there are no leaderboards for comparing scores, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Stenches is packed with stunning visuals, finely detailed battlefields, beautiful lighting and fog effects as well as horde after horde of gruesome looking zombies. The game’s original soundtrack is bold, brooding and cinematic and it sets the mood for war perfectly. The sound effects are also top notch and round out the experience quite nicely.
Zombie lovers and castle defense fans will certainly find a lot to love about Stenches. Unfortunately it’s difficult for me to recommend Stenches over Thunder Game Works’ previous title Trenches. Stenches falls a bit short feature-wise when compared to its predecessor. After multiple updates, Thunder Game Works has set the bar high with Trenches, loading it with additional game modes, even multiplayer, none of which appear in Stenches.
If you are already own Trenches and are eager for a more fleshed-out (no pun intended) and robust zombie experience then Stenches may be just what you are looking for. To anyone else, until Stenches catches up, I’d recommend buying Trenches instead. That being said, if you are looking for highly polished, fun and addictive castle defense game with some nice strategical touches, then you really can’t go wrong with either of Thunder Game Works’ titles in this genre. Both Trenches and Stenches (currently on sale) can be purchased for 99¢ each from the App Store.