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Sanctum and Sanctum 2 are part of an Indie Game series released on Steam by Coffee Stain Studios. The games are touted as the first Tower Defense-meets-First-Person Shooter game, meaning gameplay alternates between building/upgrading and fighting; in other words, think co-op Real-Time Strategy if you played as the soldiers too. The central concept involves managing cash and structures, and defending the defense core lest the base be lost.

Enemies come in the typical Tower Defense flavors, but with several twists:

  • The game leaves up to the players to construct a maze to fight enemies. Very rarely stages have a maze already build up, or does not let the players do it.
  • Enemies have a weak point which can be attacked for extra damage, and some are Nigh-Invulnerable save for it; this prevents turrets from taking all the work, which can only whittle away at some enemies.
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  • Towers themselves come in several varieties, including gatling guns, mortars, towers that slow the enemy down, and so forth.
  • The sequel allows for up to four players picking between four/five characters and sharing cash and towers, requiring careful management of resources; each player has a small arsenal to build, which requires careful management to overcome continual waves of enemies.

The first game was released April 15, 2011, and followed by its sequel on May 15th, 2013. To date, four DLC packs have been released for the sequel, plus a skin pack for the core characters. A retro-style 2D pixel art spinoff game called Super Sanctum TD (a conventional tower defence game with no FPS mechanics) was released 5 days before the sequel on May 10th, 2013.


Sanctum and Sanctum 2 contain examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Guns can fire anything from fire shells, electricity, nails, lazer bolts, sawblades, or even small flying drones.
  • Action Girl: Skye, the main character. Her sister Sweet joins the fray in the sequel, and TSYGAN is available as a DLC character.
  • Airborne Mook:
    • Sanctum 1 gives three flavors:
      • Spore Pods, the Jack-of-All-Stats.
      • Glider, the Fragile Speedster.
      • Dodger, a Teleport Spam creep, weaker than the Spore Pod but tougher than the Glider. It teleports forward instead of moving, making it harder for towers or the player to get a bead on them.
    • Sanctum 2 has some as well, this time they're more support oriented enemies:
      • Spitflies, who will ignore your maze, take the shortest path and slow down anything they hit.
      • Healers, who will patch up wounded lumes. Be it a small Runner, or a hulking Walker Patriarch.
      • Spore Pods, who will attack in large numbers to distract players and, quite possibly, force them to invest in Anti-Air measures.
  • All There in the Manual: It's possible to get a better grasp on character backgrounds and The 'Verse by reading dev diaries posted to social media and offical sites, as well as other promo materials such as the Elysian Archive. They explain the backgrounds of Skye and Sweet, explain Haigen joined to get out of the ghetto and get a job, and even reveal TSYGAN (despite zero in-game indication) is actually a hacker named Charlotte Wray.
  • Alternate Reality Game:
    • Prior to her release, DLC character TSYGAN was revealed through her hacking the official Facebook page and controlling a twitter account. Additionally, eight codes found in the sequel can be entered into a real website for extra backstory. The comic it unlocks reveals that TSYGAN is planning a revolution against the rich oppressors, and Haigen is a slum rat tied to her; acting as a mole, he becomes a core guardian to feed her information and aid in overthrowing them.
    • The Elysian Archive, which, provided the player finds the codes hidden in maps, grants backstory and character background for the sequel. A list of unlock codes can be found here.
  • Anime Hair: Haigen, Skye, and Sweet, with the latter even having a blue streak.
  • Art Evolution: The second game's official art is a lot more Western and cartoony than the first's, which was more animesque and occasionally had a semi-realistic depiction of Skye. Skye is a lot less pretty looking in the second game, with a scarred lip and most of her hair shorn short, exception of the hair spike at the top.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most of the enemies have glowing points that grant bonus damage or, in the case of heavy armor enemies, are the only vulnerable spot. Unless playing with certain loadouts and/or perks, hitting weak spots can be vital, as turrets never intentionally hit them.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The end of Sanctum 2 core game, leading into the Road to Elesyon DLC. It takes two shots from a weapon that's openly stated to be strong enough to nuke Elysion One to bring it down.
  • Awful Truth: Hinted at in Sanctum 1, but far more prominent in Sanctum 2... The first attempt at colonizing LOEK-III ended with disastrous results and quite possibly with thousands of human casualties but Bright Foundation, the corporation responsible for this, covered up everything and silenced anyone who could tell the truth. Sanctum 1 and 2 shows the period while another attempt to establish human society on the planet is ongoing, but the Cores used to created breathable oxygen, which Core Guardians are tasked to protect with their lives, are actually harming the planet and the lumes are the planet's self-defense organism merely trying to protect itself. To make matters worse Bright Foundation executives couldn't care less about the Core Guardians risking their lives and only cares about their self-image.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Sanctum 2 allows for up to five unique characters across four players, who each have their own specialties and unique abilities.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Most enemies have their weak points in their head. It's also the only way to make Tanks vulnerable, since that's where their weakpoint is, and Hoverers and Bobbleheads are immune to damage anywhere else. Made even more important in the sequel as several new shielded "heavy" enemies can only be damaged by weakspot hits or attacks from powerful weapons or towers, and certain perks focus on enhancing weakspot attacks.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In a sense — whilst weapons require reloading, players carry an infinite amount of all ammo, meaning they need only worry about reload times and tower resources.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • In Sanctum 2:
      • Lightning Towers at level 1. Fairly cheap (150 resources) and can fry any wave which doesn't have masses of Runners, Walker Pups or Brood Mothers. Even stronger enemies like Walker Warriors and Armored Heavies can be easily killed by a number of these towers.
      • The "Friendship Turret". As their defining trait is that they increase in quality with number, filling the map with them and a slowdown turret can allow you to do significant harm very quickly.
      • The "Mind Control" and "Drone" turrets. With the former turning a specific enemy friendly for a period, and the latter creating armor-piercing drones, it's entirely possible to win rounds by letting them do most of the work.
      • The core perks and the "Phoenix" perk. The former allow bonuses like core counterattacks and minor core healing, and the latter allows you to instantly respawn (or normally respawn when they're deactivated) after dying; in other words, entirely passive and boring, but are capable of saving a game from loss.
  • Bottomless Pit:
    • Sanctum 1 has these, but they'll merely force the player to teleport back.
    • Sanctum 2 is far more punishing with those as the player will "faint" and have to wait for 10 seconds to respawn, or in case Hardcore feat is active, they won't respawn until the current wave is finished. Hoverers are particularly dangerous in certain stages as their attack will send you flying very far.
  • Cold Sniper: Sanctum 2's SiMo - but that's to be expected since it's a robot and named after the highest kill-count sniper ever.
  • Crossover: The Yogscave free DLC level, with Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane voicing versions of themselves.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss:
    • Sanctum 1 has Soakers, which have ridiculously high HP but become larger and lose defense the more they are hit. Big Walkers are similar, possessing less overall health but are larger and don't lose defense.
    • In Sanctum 2 'every boss is this having far more health than any other type of lume, sans Soakers.
  • Dance Party Ending: In the first game, Skye likes to shuffle or do the Caramelldansen after her victories. The same happens if the core is destroyed, only with Walkers in top hats dancing instead of Skye.
  • Darker and Edgier: Sanctum 2 is an odd case where the game just shows more of the current setting and does away with (most) of the silliness the first game had. Skye seems more unhinged as Core Guardian and the stakes are higher than before especially as Haigen uncovers a sinister corporation conspiration in Elysion One regarding the disastrous failure of the previous colony in LOEK III...
  • Death Course: In both games you must do it in the majority of the levels to survive the onslaught of lumes coming to destroy the cores.
  • Developers' Foresight: The maps are pretty large, and extend to regions where you cannot build and enemies do not tread. Exploring said areas can result in finding spare mines, or even hidden easter egg, such as well hidden buttons that unlock doors to joke areas.
  • Double Jump: In Sanctum 2 this is a possible perk, which even stacks to a triple jump if used with Skye.
  • Difficulty Spike: While Sanctum 2 game is manageable on the first two worlds, world 3, Giant Trees, features three difficult levels to solo: Train Station, Roadworks and Abandoned Lab.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sweet's official profile can be found in the original game and Haigen makes an appearance as an NPC.
  • Early Game Hell: In Sanctum 2, certain stages can be very difficult to beat early on due the lack of better towers and perks. As soon the player open up new perks and towers they become a lot more manageable.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Numerous hidden codes can be found that unlock parts of the ARG site.
    • Several maps contain well hidden buttons that, when pressed, open a locked door located in an obscure place. Finding both often leads to bizarro-grade weirdness like this.
    • Some secrets grant achievements if you can find them, and some maps even contain arcade games within the game, such as Snake and Pong.
  • Energy Weapon: Violator towers, with Focus towers added in the sequel.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: Every character in Sanctum 2 gets three unique perks — a conditional damage bonus, a passive ability, and (until lv40) an exclusive primary weapon.
    • Skye: Multi-hit bonus (a consecutive hit does +2% dmg; +100% cap means 200% max); double jump; and an assault rifle.
    • Sweet: Fire bonus (4% hit dmg inflicted/sec; stops after 6s); best air control; and a rocket launcher.
    • SiMo: Multi-weakness hit (+30% dmg per weak-spot hit; +150% cap means 250% max); highest accuracy (160%), and a sniper rifle.
    • Haigen: Close-up bonus (+35% dmg to target within 2 spaces); highest health (150%); and a shotgun.
    • TSYGAN: Final shot bonus [hit dmg + (25% inflicted x clip size)]; fastest base speed; and a crossbow.
  • Excuse Plot: In the first game, an orange-haired girl who laughs a lot kills lots of aliens in various maps on what might be Earth. That's about it.
    • Sanctum 2 more or less tries to avoid it showing comic-strip cutscenes before the map starts. They highlight Skye commanding her squad and the interactions between her, Sweet, SiMo, Haigen, TSYGAN and other secondary characters.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Following All There in the Manual character biographies and speech: Skye Autumn is melancholic; Sweet Autumn is sanguine; Haigen Hawkins is phlegmatic; SiMo is choleric; and TSYGAN is leukine.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Explained in Sanctum 2: As it turns out the Cores you fight so hard to protect harms the planet itself, and the planet's Guardians, the Lumes, are sent to destroy them. By the end of the main campaign the planet decides it had enough of you and sends a MASSIVE lume of titanic proportions to do the job.
  • Game Within a Game: Sanctum 2 features six playable arcade machines, usually well-hidden in their respective maps. Completing them all nets you an achievement.
  • Genki Girl: Sweet is just about the polar opposite of her sister personality-wise, being a lot more cheerful and enthusiastic. However, she shares Skye's enjoyment of seeing Lumes go boom.
    • Skye herself in Sanctum 1, who was hyper... about seeing Lumes die.
  • Glass Cannon: Bobble Heads. They are slow, but they will almost certainly hit you in a one-block wide path and are invulnerable except when shot in their weak point. They have very little health, though, so they tend to die quickly despite swaying their heads to make it more difficult.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The noise the core makes whenever an enemy pass through your defenses you thought were perfect will make you rush back at it really fast.
    • At level 4-4, The End, a very loud noise will be heard when bosses are about to appear.
  • Hold the Line: The only Game Over condition in the sequel is if the core loses all health; even if everyone dies under the no respawn "feat of strength", the game will continue until the core is destroyed or enemies are killed by the core.note 
  • In the Back: Hoverers only take damage from headshots fired from behind. Joined by the massive Heavy Walkers in the sequel.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure:
    • Sanctum 1. If lose, your AI shouts "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" as the core goes critical and explodes, and you get treated to a screen of Skye sulking while the lumes with top hats dally about.
    • Sanctum 2. It's more of a Have a Nice Death (minus the death) as the Core Guardian you're controlling will react with anger or annoyance over their defeat.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Walkers, which have average speed and defense, and come in decent-sized groups. The Spore Pods are the airborne version.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • From Sanctum 1:
      • Blockers are nearly as fast as Chargers and can hit just as hard, but also have a lot more health and the ability to shield themselves at the cost of mobility.
    • Sanctum 2:
      • Haigen for the players. Despite being one of the shortest core defenders, he boasts impressive 150% base health, and deals massive close range damage. And he is by no means less agile than any other Core Guardian.
      • Rhinos on straight lines become this. They can one-hit KO any character if they build up enough momentum and run over them.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Hovers in both games have a shield which nullifies all damage. Their only vulnerable point is their soft back behind it. Tanks possess a shield that reduces damage but can be disabled by attacking their weak point. It regenerates if they aren't attacked continuously. Finally, Blockers curl into a ball when attacked by the player (but not when attacked by turrets), reducing damage done to them until the player lets up.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The alternate firing mode of the REX Launcher. The sequel has a Missile tower that also launches salvos of rockets at enemy groups.
  • Marathon Level: Sanctum 2 final, non-DLC mission, The End, lasts for only one very long round. You have 50 tower bases, 6000 resources per player, random enemy types, and six bosses (two of each) to fend off. Serves also as a Final Exam Finale since you'll fight every single type of enemy in the game here.
  • Meaningful Name: Team sniper SiMo is named after Simo Häyhä. History buffs know him as an exemplary World War II sniper, who was even known as "White Death" among enemies.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In The End, the last level of core game you can see the Titan raising every time an earthquake happens, it also sounds whenever a boss is coming.
  • More Dakka:
    • Gatling Towers. Sanctum 2 adds new automatic weapons, like Skye's default Assault Rifle and the secondary Submachine gun that any character can equip.
    • Skye herself applies as, upon a second consecutive hit of the same enemy, she starts receiving +2% damage for each hit, with each bonus lasting up to 5 seconds. Naturally, by riddling a specific enemy with bullets, it's possible to boost right up to a +100% damage limit, allowing players to seriously harm well protected enemies.
  • Power-Up Letdown: In Sanctum 2 perks that summons friendlies to aid you in battle (Reinforcements, G-2 Companion...) can work horribly against you if a boss shows up as they can easily trigger a maze-annihilating attack (Walker Patriarch and Super Heavy) or a tower jamming attack (Hoverer Queen).
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: More or less downplayed in Sanctum 2. The team is based of a military squad with each character having their role to defend the cores, but that doesn't mean all of them get along.
  • Redshirt Army:
    • Sanctum 2 has the Explorers, who are friendly mooks who delay enemies and do little else. A DLC perk even lets you spawn them with shields, allowing you to delay and cherry tap enemies after a kill.
  • Rocket Jump: Sweet's REX gun allows her to rocket jump, especially so given her increased air mobility. With the right perks, she is also able to Goomba Stomp enemies for 4000 damage.
  • Scenery Porn: Both games have gorgeous scenery.
  • Secondary Fire: Every weapon has two types of fire, which usually allows for alternative tactics. For example: Sweet's rocket launcher can lock on to one or more targets; Haigen's shotgun can load remaining shells into the barrel, allowing for higher damage multi-shots; and TSYGAN's Ballista can do lesser base damage, but inflicts shock damage to the surrounding area.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Sanctum 2 adds "Feats of Strength" which act like Halo's difficulty-modifying Skulls, adding attributes to the enemies like increased speed and aggressiveness (towards the core and you) along with more health and regenerative abilities, and worst of all the harsh penalty of disabling respawns until the next wave combined with decreased returns when recycling towers. There's a good reason to try these out, as each feat added gives you an extra 20% experience boost.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Skye and Sweet are as equal as water is to oil. Skye is cynical, flippant and completely crazed when killing lumes, Sweet on the other hand is more cheerful, levelheaded and while she enjoys blasting lumes she doesn't laughs hysterically while doing so. Moreover this reflects on their playstyle: Skye is in constant need to cause pain - and loses her damage passive if she doesn't hurt anything in a few seconds - and her double jump allows her to keep her momentum to reach distant targets and keep hurting them, but is hard to control, Sweet on the other hand is a lot more focused on support dealing constant, controlled, damage with her burning passive (which also allows debuffs to trigger and stay afflicting enemies much longer) and her jump is higher and much easier to steer and direct.
  • Silliness Switch: The victory/defeat screens in the first game are all of Skye/The monsters goofing about.
  • Shock and Awe: Lightning Towers. The Electrical Outburst perk in Sanctum 2 causes enemies to burst in lightning damaging everything surrounding them.
    • The weapon ETK-Testla Rifle is more or less a flamethrower, just swap flame for "lightning".
  • Shoot the Medic First: A must do in Sanctum 2, if left unattended Healer will get even boss level lumes back to full health essentially ending the game for the players.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Haigen's primary. As it can stack multiple shells to fire simultaneously, and he has a close range damage bonus, getting up close can turn him into a powerhouse.
    • The Shotgun in Sanctum 2 invokes and enforces this trope. Firing the Shotgun at an enemy that is too far will result in no damage dealt even if you somehow manage to hit it. Fire it close enough and the damage is massive.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the achievements, there are several. The "Legolaser aimed shots"'s icon uses a white-and-black filtered picture of Legolas from The Lord of the Rings while "I am SUPER ANGRY" uses one of Leonidas from 300. There's a whole collection of them relating to The Protomen , as well as one called Giant Enemy Crab.
    • There are references to I Love Strawberries, a failed game that the studio previously worked on.
    • One of the achievements is BOOM! HEADSHOT!
    • Swarming an enemy with flying drones unlocks "Not the bees!"
    • In the first game, Skye either does Caramelldansen or the Melbourne Shuffle in her victory screen.
    • Beating Brightholme with all feats of strength unlocks "We don't go to Brightholme".
    • In the sequel mission "Biolab", heading up to the left-hand doorway, turning left, and following the path reveals an Explorer hanging over a pit; when you approach, he shouts "Fly, you fools!" before dropping.
    • SIMO in the sequel is named after Simo Hayha, the sniper with the highest body count ever. Fittingly, he's a sniper.
    • The Explorer Conscipts can occasionally be heard saying "My body is ready!" at a wave's start. "Game over man, game over!" in a wave or "I never asked for this..." upon death is possible as well.
  • Socialization Bonus: In an inversion of Multiplayer Difficulty Spike, Sanctum 2 gives each player a fixed amount of resources depending on the level and current wave, irrespective of the number of players actually present. The number of enemies isn't scaled either, and the game is balanced on the assumption that you will always have four players. Playing solo leaves you with a quarter the resources you're supposed to have, making the game incredibly difficult.
  • Sociopathic Hero: According to the comic book sold with the retail version of the game, Skye was apparently noted to have sociopathic tendencies during training, and is referred to as such in the sequel. In-game, she's Laughing Mad, but this is otherwise an Informed Flaw. The prequel comics explains in more detail why Skye is so messed up: her father, a Core Guardian, went on a mission to protect a core with his squad and everyone but him were slaughtered by lumes, but Skye's father is on his death bed wondering if his sacrifices were worth anything as he ponders about the true intentions of Bright Foundation.
    • However in Sanctum 2, in-between games, the comic strip cutscenes show her as lacking some empathy for the Conscripts, and being flippant toward a base commander who does not like Skye's track record. Besides she's a bit too enthusiastic about "doing her job" (i.e: killing lumes with extreme prejudice).
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Happens in Sanctum 2. At the end of the core game, the team protects the final core in the lair of the Lumes, holding off everything that is thrown at them. Fleeing as the caverns collapse, the first thing the player sees is an enormous lume stomping towards a city, shrugging off cannon fire from the attacking city and vehicles.
    • Played cruelly straight also in Sanctum 2 at the end of "The Last Stand DLC" in one big, messed, "Shaggy Dog" Story. You brought down The Titan after much effort, you are helping people evacuate Elysion One which is getting overrun by an overwhelming number of lumes... Too bad there are THREE more of them. TSYGAN has a huge HeroicBSOD breakdown and Sweet panics, the only thing the Core Guardians can do is survive long enough so the Core will power the escape shuttles. While most of the population of Elysion One manages get aboard, the majority of the people living in the slums don't. To add insult to injury even more Titans appear at the end and they manage to destroy some of the escape shuttles. What makes it even worse is the fact TSYGAN decides to stay behind at her home in the slums, Haigen also orders SiMo to stay with her.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Skye and Haigen are not exactly on good terms and both often trade insults. Things only gets tenser with the arrival of the revolutionary leader TSYGAN, but the situation is more or less controlled by Sweet.
  • Teleport Spam: The Dodgers.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • In Sanctum 1, the achievement "I Said STOP!" requires the player to shoot an enemy in a slow field with a freeze grenade.
    • In Sanctum 2, Haigen's main shotgun applies, as the secondary fire causes spare shells to load, allowing him to empty his entire clip in a shot if desired. Combined with his close range damage boost, only giant and armored enemies can survive it, and even they will find a significant dent in their health.
    • Also in Sanctum 2 is TSYGAN's final shot bonus. Calculated as "25% of damage done x clip size", it can be the most harmful move in the game if used correctly. For example, her primary crossbow has a max damage of 2970, players can cause 7425dmg from one non-weakspot crossbow shot.
  • Too Fast to Stop: Chargers can run extremely fast in a straight line, but tend to bottleneck in tight corners because they can't turn well.
  • The Unfought: The Titan lume, which is taken down in two separate cutscenes.
  • Urban Segregation: Despite the opening level being set in a shiny, high-tech city, the ARG explains there's rich areas behind higher security, and structurally-weak ghettos filled with the poor and the unemployed. In Haigen's story, he explains "Brightsiders" have the right to vote, own property, and work a real job; unless you're born there or have the right to work there, you don't get the same rights. In the comic book, they're also commonly bait and fodder for the lumes.
  • Video Game Demake: People who preordered Sanctum 2 got "Super Sanctum TD", a sprite-based 2D tower defense game.
  • Zerg Rush: A common occurrence in both games, if you see Walker Pups, Runners expect to see lots of them.

Alternative Title(s): Sanctum 2


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