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"Is there anything you'd give up everything to defend?"
Immortal Defense is a Tower Defense game, with you cast as the immortal. Alright, that was easy, now for the trickier bits...
The peaceful planet Dukis is under attack by the voracious Bavakh empire, who use the extraspatial dimension known as hyperspace to quickly move their massive invasion fleets from one part of space to another. In desperation, the government of Dukis uses experimental technology to transform a brave volunteer known only as Pathspace Test Subject K into a path defender, a ghostlike being who inhabits the dimension above hyperspace, known as pathspace. From pathspace, hyperspace appears as a single line or path along which the Bavakh starships travel; objects in pathspace can interact with those in hyperspace, but not vice versa, meaning that path defenders can slaughter waves of incoming invaders with absolute impunity. The game follows K as he grows in experience and renown under the tutelage of a more experienced Path Defender named Pul Wat Aa, gradually becoming the brightest star in Dukis's sky and a beacon of hope to its beleaguered inhabitants... at least, until things start getting worse.
This game is surprisingly deep for its genre, and explores such themes as loneliness, betrayal, insanity, and, well, we'll just let the examples below speak for it. Warning: expect blatant, untagged spoilers, because there's really no way to summarize the plot of the game without them. Seriously, if you want to get the full enjoyment out of it, go play it, then come back here. We'll wait.
This game includes examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield - The entire game, particularly the later levels. Especially noticeable at the end of levels, when everything starts to distort and leave rainbow-colored trails everywhere.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence - Your character does this at the start of the game.
- Big Damn Heroes - Of all the places to find this trope...in the final level of the normal game, you have access to all your points save one. And just when you are about to be overwhelmed by impossible odds, the Strategist point cries, 'The sleeping dragon...is here!' and you can place it to get the upper hand again.
- Bonus Level of Hell - Hellspace. There's only one type of "creep" on this map, Gutei's Finger... and they happen to be a huge pain in the ass. Thankfully, you get a bit of help from a Mysterious Protector, but that still doesn't help any since you only get one life in all of the stages there...
- Boss Rush - The final level throws every enemy troop in the game at you in waves, eventually working its way up to bosses. They function like normal troops however, mixing this with Degraded Boss.
- Broken Pedestal - You, to Corybantes. "God... Great Star, I loved you so much!"
- Dead All Along - It's eventually revealed that the process of creating a path defender effectively kills their physical body, leaving them an immortal, disembodied spirit.
- Deconstruction - Of the Tower Defense genre and, it can be argued, the concept of defense itself.
- Degraded Boss - Some of the final levels use previous bosses as ordinary troops, spawned en masse. This is probably a representation of Subject K's insanity and wallowing in his memories.
- Determinator - Not even the death of his physical body stops your character from defending his homeworld. Subverted later, when it becomes apparent that this is not at all a unique trait.
- Dual Boss: The Noyates 19.
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower - Of a sort. As Magikarp Power mentions below, many points gain special abilities once they reach their final level, which is prohibitively expensive.
- Empathic Weapon - The "points" used by path defenders to attack their opponents are actually aspects of their personality given physical form.
- Face Heel Turn - Pul Wat Aa. And how.
- Arguably you, when you start blowing up innocent science fleets and convoys because you think they're looking at your homeworld funny.
- Forbidden Zone - The player character actually ends up becoming the cause of a Forbidden Zone because of his tendency to destroy any ship that approaches his old home.
- Foreshadowing - Aa begins using Turning Points towards the end of chapter 1.
- Gainax Ending / Downer Ending - You only get a single line: "I'll always love you, Grandpa...forever..." Then cue the credits. Have you gone insane, or what? The Raberata who runs the training ground puts it best: "I'm not sure whether you accomplished anything good or bad by defending your dead homeworld, but at least you did it well." (This also serves as your single hint on how to unlock the Bonus Level of Hell.)
- A God Am I - Pul Wat Aa.
- Heel Face Turn - The Bavakh, once they become sick of being the Oss's slave race. They go back to being your enemies again after you start blowing up their science fleets.
- Heroic Mime - Subject K, yourself. You never say a thing throughout the entire game. Though your Points are pretty chatty, and they are aspects of you. Plus, the hallucinations after you go mad.
- Hold the Line - This is pretty much the entire point of a path defender's existence.
- This is also how gameplay works, instead of simply destroying everything, a more typical variant of Tower Defense games. You only have to hold off the opposition until the timer runs out.
- Hopeless Boss Fight - The second Bavakh Brother, who destroys your home planet. Even if you somehow manage to defeat him, the story proceeds as though you lost.
- Ducrosh's mission was to deliver the bomb to Dukis, and he's already there by the time the mission begins. It doesn't matter whether he's subsequently killed by K or the explosion.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place - Pathspace is a pretty bleak place to live. It only gets worse once reality starts breaking down around you. Or maybe it's not, and you're just imagining it all? And from the perspective of your enemies, Hyperspace itself is the place where immortal, invulnerable ghosts endlessly tear apart your fleets, first in the defense of their homes, but later because they've gone batshit insane.
- Insufferable Genius - Aa starts off as one of these. He gets worse.
- Madness Mantra - Your grandaughter contacts you once, finishing her speech with a screen of "Don't you think? Don't you think? Don't you think?"
- Magikarp Power - All towers seem to exhibit this to a degree, pulling out a crazy Eleventh-Hour Superpower when you upgrade it to its best level. The award for the best of these used to go to the Strategist point, which redirected all on-screen shots to the unlucky sap who got hit as well as cutting their HP by 75% or more, until its rate of fire was horribly reduced in the recent patch.
- Nietzsche Wannabe - Pul Wat Aa, once he's done being a god.
- Not So Different - As your character's behavior becomes more and more erratic, multiple explicit comparisons are made between him and Aa.
- Power Born of Madness - Represented by the Turning Points. They're erratic and unpredictable, making them impossible to use reliably, but can still have a number of useful abilities. They're also the only points who can actually move after being placed.
- Power of Friendship - Represented by the Circuit Points. These points used to be the weakest and least useful, but were recently Rescued From the Scrappy Heap ... perhaps a little too well, as they're pretty much overpowered as of the V1.1 patch, able to punch through everything except enemies on the extreme high end of the power scale, and those accursed Triad Flash enemies.
- Power of Love - The Love points are your standard "support" towers, increasing the range and attack power of nearby points (and you, if you're next to one). Unless you upgrade them fully, in which case they double the attack and range of all your towers all over the field.
- This is played somewhat straighter in the "secret" ending of the game, where it's nothing but you, Aa, an inexplicable old lady, Gutei's finger, and a tug of war between your love points and Aa's hate points...
- Power Nullifier - While Bavakh can clear out all bullets in pathspace, there is a regular ship appearing later that disables a close point.
- Shaggy Dog Story - Of truly epic proportions.
- Space-Filling Path - Hyperspace, as viewed from pathspace.
- Through the Eyes of Madness - As the game progresses, you are led to question whether your character is truly defending what he thinks he's defending, or whether he's simply gone crazy. Then, once it's become apparent he's gone crazy, the game starts raising the question of when he went crazy.
- When the Turning Point appears, obviously. "Up to this time, reason alone has guided you. But I am something beyond reason..."
- Trailers Always Spoil - The trailer spoils the fact that path defenders really are ghosts and can't ever return to their bodies. It also shows a shot of the final level, though that isn't terribly spoiler-y without context.
- Trippy Finale Syndrome - And how.
- Unwinnable - The absolute final level, Level CI. No enemies, no points, no cursor, no HP, just an empty path and an immediate Mission Failed screen when you start the level. Originally a bug, it was left in because the devs thought it expressed the story's Aesop nicely.
- Videogame Set Piece: The final level of the "normal" game. The path moves. Well, though the individual path doesn't change shape, the whole thing rotates. This also prevents you from placing points anywhere except the perimeter. The timer is also far longer than any prior level.
- Wham! Episode - The end of the second campaign. Aa sells out your planet to the Bavakh, and it -- along with your physical body -- is completely destroyed.
- And there's an even bigger one at the end of the fifth campaign. After a long period of weirdness and the game questioning your sanity, the ending finally confirms it: you've gone completely insane, and your "granddaughter's" messages are entirely in your head.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic - Hoo boy...
- The final, secret campaign contains a lot of Buddhist imagery and references, specifically to the Koan of Gutei's Finger. However, given the direction of the story up to this point, it's debatable whether or not these references are truly arbitrary or superfluous; the original creator certainly didn't consider them such.
- Who Wants to Live Forever? - The entire game is essentially one long exploration of what the path defenders do with their immortality.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity - Sure you're single-handedly more than a match for any fleet in existence, as well as ancient all-destroying and unknowable gods. However, it's heavily implied (if not outright stated) that eventually all path defenders go insane, and spend the rest of their immortal existences obsessing over something. Aa gets delusions of godhood and demands worship from his people, the inventor of pathspace technology tinkers endlessly with his shooting galleries, and of course your character spends hundreds of thousands of years defending the dead rock that used to be his home planet.
- Yandere - You, to your "granddaughter" and dead homeworld, mercilessly destroying any ships that come near where Dukis used to be, even when they're completely harmless.