I enjoy it when a game designer approaches a pre-existing genre from a new, flavorful perspective. For example, I think it would be neat if we could get rid of the zombies in a lot of these survival/horror games and instead put the players against mummies in Egypt.

So how did I react when I saw that Sang Froid was a tower defense game, set in the Great White North, where you must protect a house with an axe and a musket from waves of werewolves sent by the devil? My reaction could be summed up in one word: SOLD!

Sangfroid (pronounced san-frwa) is a french word for “the ability to stay calm in difficult or dangerous situations.” This game requires exactly that.  Most games give you relatively fast recharge time or a clip for you gun rounds, so you can afford to miss shots occasionally.  In Sang-Froid, you have to reload your musket after every shot.  In many instances, you have to stall the wolves while you reload your musket, and you have to build that time into your gameplan and make every shot count. You have a lot to do and a short time to do it, but the key thing is that you keep calm and carry on.

As I though about the nature of the game’s title and mechanics, I was reminded of this scene from Glory:

I once heard this genre referred to as a “boots on the ground tower defense game,” and I think that’s an apt description.  It reminds me a little bit of Brutal Legend; I even remember thinking during one mission “this does to tower defense what Brutal Legend attempted to do with RTS, but it does it right.”  After reading other reviews, I have seen the game compared to Orcs Must Die and/or Sanctum.  If they are anything like Sang Froid, I am excited about giving them a try.

While Sang Froid requires timing, I wouldn’t call it a twitch game.  That said, it is one where you have to remain alert to the larger danger while keeping your attention on the specific task at hand.  The stages were hard, but satisfying.  whenever I finished one, I felt like Hannibal from the A-Team.

The overall flavor to the game is light, campy, with a good story and just the right amount of cheese.  The game constantly changes graphical styles between game play, cut scenes, and dialog. If I wasn’t such a fan of Ralph Bakshi’s animation I would likely find this quite jarring. I wouldn’t be surprised if other people found this annoying.

The digital storytelling technique used in the game serves as a reminder that it is a low budget title, but I think that added to the overall charm of the game.  The characters appearing and disappearing during dialog reminds me of the dialog from Guild Wars 2 or Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The folk-style soundtrack makes me think of what country music must have sounded like before country music existed; it keeps the player in the moment, but remained light enough to keep it from feeling like a horror game.

Sang Froid is an excellent tower defense game with a lot of charm and an interesting story.  Give it a try.