Niche Spotlight – Protolife: Biological-Terror Tower Defense

This is Niche Spotlight. In this column, we regularly introduce new games to our fans, so please leave feedback and let us know if there’s a game you want us to cover!

Today’s Spotlight is Protolife, a unique take on the tower defense genre by indie developer Volcanic Giraffe. The game started life as an entry in Ludum Dare 38, and has since been completely reworked and expanded upon into a full commercial release.

The once-peaceful colony on the planet Gagarin-5 is under siege. A mysterious hive-like organism has awakened and began creeping its way across the planet, devouring everything in its path and coating the land in a crimson biomatter.

You command the last line of defense, a small army of builder drones that are tasked with gathering resources to build fortifications and gradually push back the corruption until you reach its source.

You directly control a builder robot that constructs defensive towers one block at a time. The way you arrange these individual blocks determines what type of tower it makes. Your towers are also destroyed one block at a time, causing them to cease functioning or transform into different towers until repaired.

As you advance in the game’s 30 mission campaign, you’ll be placed in command of multiple drones at once on different fronts that you can freely switch between to fight back the creeping biomass consuming the planet.

Protolife is available on Windows PC and Mac via Steam for $11.99.

Here’s a rundown of the game:

15 years since the first colonization parties landed on Gagarin-5. 15 years of tedious yet satisfying work on making this planet our home. I miss these years now.

It all happened in mere days. The corruption spread across our lands, waves of crimson doom washed away our mushroom farms, and giant worms devoured our cities. As far as I know, only few thousands of people were able to escape into the emergency bases. Now the thing.. is dormant. It sleeps during the day, and grows only slowly over the night, filled with tumors, blights and rolling, nauseating pink lights.

This small opening seems to be our only chance to fight back, to clean the planet. And we are sure to take it.


Stand to defend a distant human colony against the growing lifeform that devours everything in its wake. Build complex defenses from the simplest element possible – a single block, save few remaining settlements and clean the planetary surface from the corruption in this original tower-based RTS. Initially built for a Ludum Dare 38 game jam, it was completely redesigned, got a graphics update, tons of new content, but still works around a simple idea: build towers from blocks, contain the enemy, survive the night onslaught and strike back.

Key Features

  • Unique approach to building process: Every tower is constructed from patterns of simple blocks. Build your defense grid piece by piece the way you like it, upgrade, combine, optimize space and resources to survive against the overwhelming odds.
  • An enemy unlike usual RTS adversaries: Growing, living entity designed to exploit every small weakness in your defense. The more space it takes from you, the more powerful it becomes.
  • Freedom of strategy and flexible defense perimeter: Go for quick low-tier tower rush or bunk with well-defended artillery posts, then collect your blocks and rebuild the defenses on the spot — just mind the free space and resources left.
  • Direct control over the builder: Or two? Dynamically switch between several battlefronts and dominate over the enemy.
  • Over 30 levels with variative gameplay and win objectives.
  • Remappable keyboard or gamepad controls. Please note that the game was not designed for mouse control.

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Niche Gamer’s resident indie expert. Digs through the Steam new releases so you don’t have to. Massive fan of miniature and board games as well.