We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
PC games software Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Sanctum review

£6.99

Manufacturer: Coffee Stain Studios

This first-person tower defence title is a fun, frenzied experience that presents a novel take on a tired genre.

The tower defence game in which you play an active role (which no-one seems to have come up with a snappy acronym for yet) is an increasingly popular genre, with upcoming titles like Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders each putting their own interesting spin on how it's played.

Sanctum takes a futuristic approach, and blends the strategy of tower defence with cooperative multiplayer first-person shooter gameplay. It's a blend that works extremely well: a simple interface between waves of enemies allows players to spend their limited resources on building towers, upgrading towers, or upgrading their own personal arsenal, then the enemy assault can be triggered at any time. Once the wave of enemies begins, players can navigate around and shoot the bad guys with a rapid-fire assault rifle, a high-powered but slow to reload sniper rifle, or a freeze cannon while their towers take care of the rest. Rather than having to run from one end of a level to the other, players also have access to an overview map, allowing them to easily teleport to various points in order to get the best vantage point on the advancing hordes. This also helps with planning tower placement, as players are free to block off certain routes when several are available.

Sanctum doesn't waste any time with storytelling -- it knows it's a fast-paced arcade action title and it plays to its strengths with a big, bold, clear interface, meaty sound effects, and an excellent trance soundtrack. But despite its arcade-y nature, it's a game that will take you a while to beat, too. Each of the four levels in single-player takes at least 45 minutes to clear, and then there are alternative difficulty levels, Endless mode (which features an extra map over the campaign) and the ludicrously challenging Turbo mode to take on -- not to mention the 4 player cooperative multiplayer mode.

Sanctum does a lot of things right and this keeps its gameplay flowing smoothly. Prior to a wave of enemies appearing, for example, it's possible to look them up in the in-game encyclopaedia to remind yourselves of their capabilities and weaknesses -- and enemies maintain a coherent visual style while looking distinct to one another, making them easy to identify in combat. The overview map facility helps what could have been a cumbersome building interface be highly strategic -- and in multiplayer, a whole new angle is put on this, as it's effectively possible for one player to play the game as a "commander" and order their teammates to put towers in specific places before taking up arms in the action phase.

In short, it's a very good, highly flexible game marred only slightly by an occasionally inconsistent difficulty curve -- and for some people, the lack of narrative progression might put them off progressing through the single-player campaign. Despite these minor issues, however, Sanctum remains a high quality game which the developer remains committed to -- and at the price, it's a complete bargain.

Sanctum Expert Verdict »

OS: Windows XP(SP3), Windows Vista(SP2) or Windows 7 Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon X2, or equivalent, running at 1.6GHz or greater Memory: 2 GB Hard Disk Space: 2 GB available Video Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible, 256 MB of VRAM
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS, ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro 256 MB, or greater DirectX®: 9.0c or higher Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible, 16-bit Network: Internet (TCP/IP) connection

Out-of-nowhere hit Sanctum offers gorgeously-presented and excellent tower defence meets FPS gameplay, really only marred by inconsistent difficulty.

  • Orcs Must Die review

    Orcs Must Die

    This action-oriented tower defence title is an orc-annihilating blast, and a solid entry in anyone's XBLA or Steam library.

  • Ghostbusters: Sanctum Of Slime review

    Ghostbusters: Sanctum Of Slime

    With repetitive gameplay and random late-game difficulty spikes, Ghostbusters: Sanctum Of Slime can’t quite live up to the reputation of the brand.

  • Trenched

    Like Double Fine's other recent downloadable games, this mech-based tower defence title is completely enjoyable throughout.

  • Orcs Must Die! 2 review

    Orcs Must Die! 2

    Oh, the tragedy that it's not called 'Orcs Must Die Harder'

  • Fieldrunners HD review

    Fieldrunners HD

    Fieldrunners HD is a game for Android that may be enjoyable for newcomers to tower defence, but players experienced with the genre are likely to find it dull.


IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

LED vs Halogen: Why now could be the right time to invest in LED bulbs

IDG UK Sites

Christmas' best ads: See great festive spots studios have created to promote themselves and clients

IDG UK Sites

Why Apple shouldn't be blamed for exploitation in China and Indonesia