Top 10 Tower Defense Games
For as long as there have been towers, we have been raining destruction down upon our enemies from atop them. Tower defense games combine action, strategy, and not a little bit of stress as you try to keep enemies from reaching their objective through the use of building and upgrading your defenses. The good news is, if you’re looking for the best tower defense games online, you’ve come to the right place! The bad news… ? Say goodbye to your free time.
Note: This list has been updated from its original publication to reflect the current user ratings on the site. We have opted to include only the highest rating game in each series to avoid any one in particular from dominating all the entries. Tell us your top tower defense games in the comments below!
See our most recent Tower Defense Games!
#10 – Storm the House 3, 2008 (89/100)
Packed with minigames, upgrades, fun cheats, and a legitimate reason to roar, “You come into MY house?!”, Storm the House 3 is a straightforward game where you try to defend a house that’s under daily siege increasingly ridiculous enemy numbers. You can manually aim and fire yourself, though you’ll want to make each shot count, and at night, you can use the cash you’ve earned to purchase people to fight alongside you, upgrade your defenses, and even place towers to help. Though the game starts off simple, the difficulty ramps up fast as soon dozens of enemies are sprinting towards you, and since your base doesn’t automatically repair itself between days, completing the main 40-stage campaign requires steady aim and a quick trigger finger. The game may feel a little bare-bones by the comparison with today’s more elaborate, flashy titles, but Storm the House 3 is still pure, breezy, fast-paced fun in a way that drew a lot of us to online games to begin with.
#9 – Enigmata Stellar War, 2012 (90/100)
Awww yeah, now we’re talking! Everyone knows a good pew pew pew laser battle makes any game just a little bit better, and Enigmata Stellar War has lasers galore. Created by KidGamez, you’re tasked with defending your vulnerable base against enemy forces by building defenses around it. Unlike other tower defense games, building units is free, but you can only have a certain amount on the field at any given time. You can direct them around the field, which you’ll need to do as enemy ships attack from all sides, and you can unlock different types by spending gold. If all this sounds hectic… well, it is, and for some players, that’s part of the appeal. Since you can’t pause to issue commands, you need to be constantly watching everywhere on the field at once, dragging your defenses around to where each unique type is most needed at any given moment. It’s not what you’d call relaxing, but so what?
#8 – Bunny Flags 2, 2011 (90/100)
It’s nice of someone to make a game about all those fever dreams I had after I ate that bad hummus. Bunny Flags 2, naturally, is about intrepid rabbits defending their territory and their flags from hopping, angry, disembodied human digits. In each level, you control a buff bunny hero who you move and fire with manually, and you use the cash you earn from breaking thumbs to build defenses that can help you out. Each level can be tweaked with variables that increase the difficulty, but also offer greater reward, allowing for a lot of replayability. If it sounds weird, well… that’s because it is, but frankly, that’s also a large part of the charm. Trying to blast away those ferocious fingers while also building things to try to force them in a certain direction or avoiding their attacks takes some quick thinking and reflexes, and the upgrade tree and bizarre premise are the tasty sprinkles and cherry on top of this freaky sundae.
#7 – Army of Ages, 2011 (91/100)
Certain people would have you believe that war never changes, but Louissi proved them liars with Army of Ages, where the carnage takes place through evolving history against an alien invasion. Starting with the humble stone age, which must have really thrown our ancestors for a loop after dealing with nothing more advanced than sticks and teeth, you build structures that spawn warriors of all types. These troops will march towards the enemy base, attacking everything in their way, while the enemy sends their forces straight at yours. Once you get enough experience, you can evolve to the next time period, which unlocks different buildings and unit types. It’s fast-paced and fun, and since it’s by Louissi you know it’ll be good, though one does wonder how drastically different our society would be growing up while locked in constant war with interstellar alien beasts. “Mornin’ Ralph. Heard you got a promotion. Remind me to take you and the missus out sometime. Say, that unspeakable galactic hive sure does glisten in the morning, doesn’t it?”
#6 – Steampunk Tower, 2013 (Rating: 92/100)
Dreamgate Company’s Steampunk Tower is one of those games that sort of catches your eye from across the room and gives you a flirty little wink, and with its polished presentation and classic vibe, it’s hard not to grin back. Unlike other games in the genre, this one revolves around a single, literal tower under siege that grows more complex with each level, and it’s your job to build defenses on each floor to contend with the enemies that come to attack. You can drag these cannons and other weapons around the tower to change their direction of fire or location, or pull them in to reload. The result is a fast-paced game of resource management where you need to react quickly to every threat… now, would you kindly play it?
#5 – Incursion 2 The Artifact, 2013 (Rating 94/100)
I promise this game isn’t on this list just because I giggle like a kid whenever I say the developer’s name. Created by booblyc (heeheeheehee), the Incursion games proudly draw their inspiration from some of the best titles the tower defense genre has to offer, and the result is one tasty dish indeed. You train groups of units from barracks around each level, directing them towards your enemies and calling on your hero for help when needed. Unlike other, similar games, Incursion 2 The Artifact allows you to choose what goes into each group of units… pair up a sorcerer with a pair of soldiers, for instance, or throw a single soldier in front of some archers to act as a meat shield. You need to think and react fast to the skirmishes happening, providing direction to each group, and manage your resources carefully if you want to win the war.
#4 – GemCraft, 2008 (Rating 95/100)
I don’t do bugs, but even I think building arcane towers to belch forth destructive magical flames to deal with them is a bit much… unless they’re as nasty as these. Despite several wildly successful sequels, Game in a Bottle’s first title in the series, called simply GemCraft, remains the highest rated on our site. You use mana to craft gems of different colours and place them in towers, which in turn defend you from the swarms of monstrous bug-like creatures attacking your base. Where things get interesting is in the way different types of gems offer various abilities in addition to dealing damage, and can even be combined into new types to suit your needs. Craft together a gem that poisons an enemy with another that slows them down, for instance, or place them into trenches to turn them into traps, which changes the way they behave again. It’s a series that’s widely regarded as being one of the most strategic and clever for a reason, and every single entry is well worth playing.
#3 – Cursed Treasure 2, 2013 (Rating 95/100)
Gamers, like dragons or crows, love shiny things… it’s a proven fact. IriySoft’s series, then, about protecting your hoard of glittering jewels from plundering “heroes”, should strike a chord with most of us. Enemies will swarm towards your base and try to carry off your gems, and it’s your job to make use of your defenses to stop this from happening. While the game may make a point of saying you’re a Dark Lord who commands wicked forces, are you really a bad guy if you’re the one being stolen from here? Cursed Treasure 2 tweaks and enhances upon the success of the original game, even allowing you the extra challenge of playing nighttime versions of levels that reduce visibility. While three tower types might not seem like a lot, the versatility of each one’s splitting upgrade trees shows off just how smart the game is. With Cursed Treasure 3 on the way, there’s no time like the present to dig in!
#2 – Bloons TD 5, 2015 (Rating 95/100)
Don’t let David Attenborough lie to you… the monkey’s natural enemy is the balloon!… or, well, “bloon”, really. Ninja Kiwi’s addictive, oddball series about monkeys laying waste to balloons has been around since 2007, and while the original games featured puzzle-based gameplay, the Bloons TD games proved these primates can thrive anywhere. Bloons TD 5 is packed to the gills with challenging stages that all have different levels of difficulty, and you can play them in whatever order you wish. You’ll plop down monkeys to hurl darts at the different types of bloons that swarm the pathways, earning cash and experience to unlock more and more content to take with you. It’s a more flexible style of progression that lets you play how you please, and keep you coming back for more.
#1 – Kingdom Rush Frontiers, 2013 (Rated 98/100)
When it comes to tower defense games, Ironhide Game Studio is practically synonymous with them. The Kingdom Rush series has dominated virtually every top list in the series for years, and for good reason! Fans were smitten by the cute, colourful graphics, but more importantly, the gameplay was tough and strategic thanks to a wide variety of unique enemies and carefully thought out upgrade trees that required planning to make the most of in each level. Kingdom Rush Frontiers finally dethroned the original game, with all new locations, baddies, boss fights, heroes to train, and more. It’s not hard to see why it’s been a hit, not just online, but also on Steam, iTunes, and Google Play!
- Giants and Dwarves TD
- Ghost Hacker
- Ghost Hacker 2
- Desktop Tower Defense 1.5
- Tower of Doom
- Bowmaster Prelude
Writer: Dora Breckinridge / Dora has been writing about games for the better part of a decade, and playing them for even longer, using the glow of the monitor to keep her warm in the frozen wilds of her native Canada. Her website is here!