Ant Raid is developer Prank’s first release, but it’s clear they’ve got a bright future. This quirky take on real-time strategy might forgo many of the common elements of the genre, but it makes up for it in play value. Leading groups of ants to victory against mutated snails, bees, and other insect predators is harder than it looks, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
Featuring a terrific presentation, complete with detailed insects and beautifully rendered landscapes, Ant Raid is more strategic action than a true RTS game. There’s really no building involved and almost no resource management, which are cornerstones to most games of this genre. You’re given a set number of ants to work with, which are already divided into smaller groups. The prime concern across all the levels is keeping as many ants alive as possible while defending your base.
Home sweet home.
Given that the ants are always being attacked by much larger creatures, the little guys must work together to take down giant bees and snails and rescue fallen comrades. Some of the invading bugs can stun the ants, which must then be rescued. It’s a little frustrating that the stunned ants never recover on their own, as the battles can get very pitched with enemies coming from all fronts. Having to focus a group of ants on bringing unconscious buddies back to base while hordes of snails are overrunning them can be a frustrating distraction.
As the game progresses, the ants gain the ability to absorb colored energy from fallen enemies. Blue energy makes your ants temporarily invulnerable, while red makes them super fast. Combine the two effects for gold status, which applies both statuses at the same time. Finally, and most entertaining, is the green ‘divine finger’ effect. Ant Raid can get really difficult in a hurry, with an overwhelming number of enemies flooding the screen. Activate the divine finger and suddenly you’re able to squash the attacking hordes directly by tapping the screen.
We’ve found the root of the problem.
Generally, you won’t get as high a star ranking using your finger, but it’s absurdly fun nonetheless. The game controls very simply overall. You tap on an ant to highlight its group, and then tap on an enemy to start the attack. Hold your finger down on the screen and you can select all the ants in a much larger radius. To activate any available special powers, simply tap on the colored icon at the top of the screen. Zooming and scrolling are possible, but minimal, and the levels tend to be only slightly larger than the iPad’s screen.
As for the levels, Ant Raid has a ton of them. There are 60 levels for the story-driven campaign. Beat the story mode and another 40 challenge levels are unlocked. There’s a further four ‘endless’ levels, which throw wave after wave of enemies at you until all your ants perish. Beyond that, the game supports Game Center and includes 47 achievements and five different leaderboards for posting top scores.
While Ant Raid is definitely a more casual take on traditional RTS games, it’s skillfully done. The iPad-centric game is polished, fun, and great looking. There’s plenty of content and challenge here, even if the level objectives tend to get a bit repetitive after a while. The lack of building and resource management might turn off some strategy lovers, but there’s enough challenging and creative gameplay to make Ant Raid well worth a look for gamers of all skill levels and tastes.