Pincushion little raiders in a tower defense from the director of Hitman GO

Isle of Arrows
(Image credit: Gridpop)

Isle of Arrows is a neat, clean tower defense that hit Steam this week, and though it's styled minimally I had to resist the temptation to call it "little" because it's pretty beefy once you get stuck in. It's solo-developed by Daniel Lutz, who previously worked as creative director on Hitman and Lara Croft GO at Square Enix Montreal.

Isle of Arrows takes more inspiration from tile-placement than traditional tower defense. Rather than emphasizing upgrades, it emphasizes planning and careful positioning. 

At the same time it has the low-key commitment of a good mobile game. You make smart choices to win, but it's heavily influenced by what kind of cards you get and when. It's a try, try again kind of game that might be good for when you're tired or distracted by something else.

Each wave you get a random tile to place on your island. It might be something to extend the tower path, a tower to attack, or a tile like a garden or statue that gives you a bonus. You can also pay money, which you get more of each turn, to place the next drawn tile—and so on and so forth. 

Once ready you pop the button that sends in a wave and see how you do. Once the wave is over you get a new tile to place for free, but you also might get a random event like a black market to buy things from or a game of chance to win bonuses on. The further you get in each wave the more stuff you unlock, later placing buildings that give benefits to adjacent towers or change how they target, in addition to traps and other tower types.

You can find Isle of Arrows on Steam. It's $13, or 10% off until September 15th.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.