Those familiar with the GemCraft series will be able to jump right in. The gameplay is nearly identical to its predecessors, just adapted for the touch screen. Every level has a maze. You place towers next to the maze, and traps right on the path. You can do this while paused, giving you ample time to figure out the best placement. Using your mana, which regenerates with time, you then craft gems of different colors to place in the towers and traps, which zap the enemy. The different colored gems have unique powers, such as slowing the enemy down, or poisoning them. You can combine gems to create one wtih up to three powers. This also upgrades their range and damage. Each monster kill earns you XP, which you need to level up. You must level up to acess new maps, new game modes, and to gain skills. Skills let you upgrade things like tower costs, gem strength, and how much mana you start with. Once you've gained a few levels and upgraded your skills, you can go back and try to beat your old score to gain even more XP. There are very optional in app purchases if you're not opposed to buying your way to a higher level.
Want more? Check out the entire GemCraft series!
The graphics here are much more cartoonish than the browser versions, which lightens the mood. My biggest complaint, and one I hope they address, is that the game doesn't tell you what type of enemy is approaching next. This makes it hard to plan a strategy. Should you focus on armor reduction or splash damage? And is it a bug that sometimes creeps seem to gain energy when they get hit, or is there a type of enemy that has that trait? Despite this glaring flaw, GemCraft is still a solid entry into the tower defense genre. With three difficulty levels and seven game modes there is plenty here to fill your ever nagging defense cravings.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad 2. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.