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Taurian Defense Review


Taurian Defense definitely believes in ‘going big or going home’. There’s no ‘going home’ here: it’s most definitely gone big, at least in the indie sense. This is a 3D dogfighting sim, which you would have thought would be enough of a challenge: big hitters like Star Wars Squadrons have struggled in the same space. Not only that, but Taurian Defense offers three different takes on it, each with their own ship and style of play. It could have mastered one kind of ship and left it that, but oh no: it’s shooting for three. 

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Taurian Defense comes with multiple styles of play

So, for your money you get the Banshee, a gunship with reasonably high maneuverability and both air and ground engagement capabilities. The Banshee is attached to a kind of horde mode, tower-defense thing, where your base gets fizzed by bombers, fighters and tanks. You also get the Interceptor, more of a nippy fighter, where you complete a one-pilot assault on various larger and more open maps, taking down entire fleets and cities. And then there’s the X130, a devastator class frigate that turns like a fridge but can bombard air and ground units. Similar to the Banshee, it gets to defend against waves of enemies, but there’s more emphasis on ground assaults this time round. 

It is a chunk of stuff. We’re still working out whether Taurian Defense is better for the breadth, or if it might have worked better by focusing on one of the better ships – the Interceptor, perhaps. We couldn’t give you a definitive answer. It might have been a better game, but there’s a danger it wouldn’t have been quite so interesting. 

Taurian Defense makes a few good first impressions. For one, it’s prettier than you’d expect from this kind of budget. Don’t get us wrong, the unit design is about as generic as you could possibly imagine. But for all the humdrum unit design (only a spider-like bot makes any kind of impression), they are polished to a degree that belies Taurian Defense’s price tag. This is a surprisingly good looking little indie.

For two, there’s the way Taurian Defense reins in the ambition. This could have been a sketchy 3D aerial shooter, but the ‘3Dness’ is an illusion. Taurian Defense might not look it, but it all actually takes place on a 2D plane. There’s no Z axis here: you’re not moving your ship up or down. You’re only turning or strafing left or right, and the enemies are doing the same. When it comes to ground units, you have to switch mode with a tap of a button, and that allows you to target them. Again, there’s not much need for a 3D space: you are only really missing the enemy if you’re not looking directly at them.

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There’s not too much ambition here

That might sound like it’s overly simple, and Ace Combat fans are probably arching an eyebrow beneath their aviators. But we honestly believe that Taurian Defense would have stumbled in that 3D space. More expensive games certainly have. Taurian Defense would have needed to do a better job with maneuvers, awareness of where enemies are, counter-measures, that sort of thing. As it stands, it just about offers you enough control.

Plus, two of the three ships are a joy to control. The Banshee, with a jab of the RB ‘burst’ button, can move in and out of battle in moments. There’s a satisfying thrill in pumping out chaff to lose a lock-on, too. The Interceptor is similarly fun. You can pump the same RB button to move at about three times the speed of other fighters, and that never gets old. The Lylat Wars-copying maneuvers, triggered through the d-pad, are given a ludicrously long animation, but they can put you in a dominant position. 

Second and third impressions of Taurian Defense are not so hot, though. Taurian Defense is let down by its unit variety. Once you get into the latter waves of the Banshee or X130’s levels, you begin to realise that escalation in difficulty is mostly coming in the number of units, rather than the type. Fighters, hardy bombers and tanks are about all that you get to fight, and Taurian Defense can only tinker with the composition of them in each wave. There’s a gnawing sense of fatigue, particularly in the horde mode levels, since your surroundings never change. You’re reliant on the enemy waves to supply the interest, and they don’t – not really. 

Then there’s the X130. We get the sense that Initus Interactive put in a lot of effort to make it work, but they couldn’t quite get there, so they stuck it on the bottom of the mission options. Being a frigate, it’s about as nimble as a dumpster truck, and its laborious turning circle is no fun to grapple with. You can fire 360 degrees around you as you turn, so you’re never truly vulnerable, but we’d argue that there’s not much fun in holding LT and RT weapons to fire willy-nilly. There’s no skill to it. Engaging with ground units is slightly more fun, mostly because it’s the only 3D shooting in the entire game, but it’s still prone to those gargantuan turning circles. 

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It’s pretty ambitous

There are an awful lot of caveats to swallow in Taurian Defense – we haven’t mentioned the erratic targeting mechanics, the half-hearted approach to power-ups, and a fail condition that means you have to play everything again if you die – but we’d like to make the case that maybe you should give it a go anyway. 

Why? Because we love how Taurian Defense chucks absolutely everything at the wall. There’s a charm in how ambitious it is, as long as you’re willing to sift through it to find the good stuff. And the good stuff is there, we promise. It’s in the Interceptor missions, which make you stupendously overpowered and then gives you a whole region to destroy. It’s in the nimbleness of the Banshee and Interceptor, allowing good players to make short work of whole fleets. 

As long as you’re willing to put up with samey battles, Taurian Defense is an ambitious compendium of dogfighting games, and we’re all in for celebrating that ambition.


  • Three completely different ships to fly
  • Slick dogfighting controls
  • Interceptor missions in particular are great
  • Lacks charm in the unit design
  • Enemy waves get repetitive
  • X130 lacks panache of the other playable ships
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Initus Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 22 March 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Three completely different ships to fly</li> <li>Slick dogfighting controls</li> <li>Interceptor missions in particular are great</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Lacks charm in the unit design</li> <li>Enemy waves get repetitive</li> <li>X130 lacks panache of the other playable ships</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Initus Interactive</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 22 March 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Taurian Defense Review
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