Dragon Slaughter Episode l in Review – Rebirth of the TD genre?

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Ok folks, I know you are probably sick and tired of hearing this from me, but the Tower Defence genre has been a bit stale lately. And even the appearances of recent titles like TriDefense and geoDefense Swarm have done little to change that, with things being more of a quantitive than a qualitative difference from the older representatives of the genre. Well, this may finally have changed. Rockiphone, the developers of Battlefield, an open-field TD with a rather interesting and different upgrade path, have gone out and put together another TD game called Dragon Slaughter Episode 1.

To kick start this review with some basics – as noted earlier, Dragon Slaughter is a fixed path TD game. You play a mage and your goal is to defend towns from the onslaught of monsters. As in most other members of the genre, the number of lives is limited and set at 20. Once a monster reaches the mage, -1 life. And to eliminate the monsters before they reach your precious hide, you make use of crystal towers.

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The level is divided into a square grid and you can place your towers on it. The towers do not appear instantly, rather they take a few seconds to materialize. When you tap on a free space, you get to choose which type of tower to place. Well actually, there is only ONE type of tower to build. That’s a bit unsettling at first, at least until you tap the newly built tower. And here’s the catch: Each tower can have up to 3 slots, in which you can place crystals of varying colours.

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There are 5 crystals in all, each with their own attributes (Red – Power, Green – Speed, Purple – Range, Blue – Adaptation, Yellow – Balanced). The first crystal you put in defines how the tower will act. But that’s not all. The second and third crystals will also give additional bonuses, based on the resulting colour combination. The game also builds up a database of colour=bonus correlations for future reference. A note to the casual player – there are two additional upgrade levels after you unlock all the crystal slots which really make the difference in power.

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The enemies also have their own element(colour) affinities with a bonus or penalty to damage from towers. An interface issue I have is that once you tap the tower upgrade button, it does not show a preview on how the tower characteristics will change, it simply immediately does the upgrade (provided you have the cash of course). You get the feel for tower parameters depending on their level after a while, but it can be rather annoying at times.

The graphics are very nice and while not spectacular, it does provide the necessary in-game experience. And the special effects are great. I would note that it is rather hard to distinguish between level 3, 4 and 5 towers at first glance and that is something the developers should definitely have a look at. The interface is clean and user friendly, and the basic pinch in/out to zoom works very well. The game also features both the speed multiplier option (up to 3x) and the immediate next wave toggle. If desired, you can always hide the extra buttons to avoid any unnecessary distractions.

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I really liked Dragon Slaughter. I have probably tried out about 90% of TD games on the market and this is definitely one of the better ones out there. Featuring a dozen stages in campaign mode, an endless mode for each level and 3 difficulty settings for each, this game has the potential to bring you back time and time again. And speaking about difficulty – I would really recommend starting off at easy even to the seasoned TDers. Until you get the hang of the game mechanics, the enemies seamlessly overwhelm you in no time even at medium.

I would definitely recommend Dragon Slaughter Episode 1 not only to any TD fan, but to newcomers to the genre as well. While it is not perfect, it is an extremely well-made game that I feel the developers have laid down a solid ground for them to build on. The game is still missing online leader boards and some additional variety in gameplay, but then again, this is still Episode 1. One thing though, some folks may consider the game a little pricey at $2.99 (by App Store standards). If so I would advise waiting for a sale if you’re in no rush.

With this I declare Dragon Slaughter Episode 1 officially touched.

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App Summary
Title:Dragon Slaughter Episode l (v.1.2)Developer:rockifone.com
Price:$2.99App Size:16.3 MB
  • Solid graphics and interface
  • Zero performance issues
  • Very nice crystal-based tower upgrade mechanic
  • Reasonable game-length and difficulty
  • A little too pricey
  • Lacks variety after a point

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  • http://www.touchmyapps.com/author/tma_jim/ Jim Haley

    Nice reivew. I’ve been keeping my eye on this TD and your overview really gave me a feel for it – I like the idea of the different characteristics that the crystals give it. I’ll probably wait for a sale, but I’ll likely pick this up at some point.

  • Ricky

    Haven’t tried Dragon Slaughter yet, but I do feel I should say something about this statement: “recent titles like TriDefense and geoDefense Swarm have done little to change that”. I agree with you regarding geoDefense, but it’s different with TriDefense. At first I *hated* the game, it was too hard. But after a playing it for a while, I really got into it and it just felt different. Now I must say, TriDefense is my favorite TD game, along with Def Chronicles.

  • http://www.touchmyapps.com/author/tma_chiffan/ ChiffaN

    Ricky, I did a review of TriDefense myself and can say that it is a solid TD game, but still has only quantitive differences from the other open-fielders. Personally, I’m still waiting for THE TD games.

  • Louis

    Yes, nice review ChiffaN :)

    @Ricky I haven’t tried TriDefense yet, but seeing how much you seem to enjoy it, I’ll have to give it a try myself sometime.

    Off the top of my head, some of my favorite TDs (in no particular order)

    - GeoDefense
    - 7 Cities
    - Zombies Attack
    -The Creeps!
    -Defender Chronicles

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