Defender Chronicles Hands On Preview – A Breath of Fresh Air
This weekend I was given the opportunity to get my greedy little hands on Defender Chronicles by Gimka Entertainment, an app I’ve been looking forward to since I had my first glance at the gameplay video. In fact, when Louis emailed me asking if I’d like to write this piece for TMA I was excited, so much so that after out short discussion I would check to see if the developers had emailed me every hour or so and when I finally got it, I couldn’t load it onto my iDevice fast enough!
Going in, I had a lot of expectations for the game. I’m a huge fan of Tower Defense games, but the genre has been stale as of late. No new or exciting takes on the genre, just more ways of doing the same thing or adding flashy and unique visuals. This game comes as a breath of fresh air to a pair of fresh lungs, by combining traditional RPG elements into a TD game. If done right, there is little chance of failure — look at Puzzle Quest for example. They take your traditional bejeweled puzzle type of game and throw in the RPG elements and it’s a fantastic little time-sink.
You are immediately thrown into the world map with little explanation as to what you’re supposed to do (as you can see in the picture above). This really wasn’t that big of an issue for me as I’d consider myself an adept video game player, but to someone not quite used to video games it might be a little overwhelming. Shrugging that little issue off, I click on the hero hoping to set up my character.
I was a little disappointed to find that I wasn’t given a choice in what type of character my General or Hero was. I was hoping I’d be able to choose between your basic RPG classes (i.e. Warrior, Thief, Mage, Archer, etc.) as well as gender. I personally believe having this option would increase both replayability and a player’s emotional investment to their character. The game is still in “beta” so it might have just been disabled for the ad-hoc, but if that isn’t the case I hope the devs will consider including this option.
A sinking feeling started to seep up from beneath me as I exited the Hero menu and clicked on the first stage. All of the expectations had for the game weren’t being met and I doubted things would get better, but I soldiered on hoping that all of the potential this game offered wasn’t for naught.
Boy was I glad to find that my suspicions were wide of the mark!
When you choose to play the first stage it asks you if you want to view the tutorial. Even if you’re an avid gamer I would suggest using the tutorial as it walks you through the first handful of turns and includes some pertinent strategic information. After the tutorial, you gain full control in creating and upgrading your army. Each level in the ad-hoc requires certain units to be beefed up more than others. The first stage is quite balanced between the soldiers and knights, but you’ll quickly find which unit type you should build first and which one you need to upgrade at certain points throughout the stage. The second and third stages require you to focus more on archers than on soldiers, as they include a lot of monsters that can’t be “blocked” or “hit” by soldiers (i.e. Flying Goblins and Slimes).
Once you upgrade your units to the 5th level, you can then change their class. For soldiers, upgrades to berserkers can be purchased for 80 gold and archers upgraded to rangers for 90 gold (unfortunately you can only upgrade to rangers on the 3rd stage).
After beating a stage you are awarded stars based on your score (1-4 stars), you can only get 3 stars on the first two difficulty settings and 4 stars on the last two. You are also taken to the Log Book menu where it tells you how many Imperial Coins you have, if your hero gained a level, the score you received for beating that stage as well as that information for stages you beat previously. Imperial Coins are used to buy equipment from the Shop. You receive more Imperial Coins for beating stages on harder difficulty settings.
In the casual mode setting, you’ll learn the basic strategy for the level and as you climb up the difficulty modes from casual to veteran, master, and finally heroic. You’ll have to refine that strategy as well as level up, buy equipment, and increase your hero’s statistics in order to even have a chance to beat a new level of difficulty or even the next stage. I had to grind away on the first two stages on multiple difficulty settings in order to get enough Imperial Coins for new equipment and increase the stats for my units before I was anywhere capable of beating the third stage. Unfortunately the ad-hoc app crashes after a handful of waves on the heroic difficulty settings on any of the three stages so I was unable to complete all of them on the hardest difficulty.
Visually the game is impressive. The detail to the environments, characters, and monsters is astounding. The accompanying sound effects and musical score really help to immerse you into the world the devs have created. They even added voices to the General who speaks to you before and after quests. While this is a splendid idea, the voice acting of the Advisor is jarring to the senses and lacks any skill. Thankfully, you can disable voices in the options menu.
After the second level you’re given access to the Great Library, which is a shop where you can enter and purchase “secrets” or unlockables with your Imperial Tokens. One of the secrets you can unlock is a Rock-themed musical score which plays in the background. The other secrets in the ad-hoc include: a book with detailed info on your deployable units, a secret stage, and another type of unit (costs 120 gold to deploy). This shop offers a lot in the way of expanding the game and in the future might be a way to continue to get more levels, units, shops, equipment etc. which is very exciting!
I’ve spent quite a few hours playing through Defender Chronicles and I can say that I am very impressed. There are a few minor issues, which I’ve raised in this article, but nothing major. I’ve REALLY enjoyed the experience the game has given me. In fact, I was quite sad to reach the limitations of the ad-hoc. I just want to experience everything the game has to offer. I’d highly recommend you pick up this refreshing little game as soon as it hits the AppStore!