Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia in Review – Skeletal Genocide on an Evil Scale

As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight into my good books. Such is the challenge facing Gimka Entertainment with their offering of Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia.

In DC2, players must defend the world of Athelia from the evil armies attempting to take it over. Their motives? No one truly knows, but I believe it’s safe to assume they’re not simply looking for a new place to buy more crooked staffs, black robes, and ragged skeleton pants.

As is the case with any Tower Defense game, the actual mechanics are generally what allow the cream to rise. My first impression of DC2 was that the controls were actually somewhat clunky. While I did end up getting used to them, my initial qualms lead me to believe that the overall design isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be.

The 2D platform view works, but excessive waves of enemies can lead to serious, indecipherable clutter

Building encampments requires three button presses, and each press requires you to touch a different spot on the screen. For example, to build an infantryman station you must select an open area, press the infantryman icon which pops up on the bottom right of the screen, then tap the build site again. On occasion class icons can actually cover the area on which you are building. In these situations you can’t make the third tap without moving the camera, which ends up aborting the building process entirely. This seems miniscule, but in tight situations it can be quite bothersome.

Controls aside, DC2 manages to introduce a level of depth which is not seen in most other games in the same genre. Players may choose from one of four heroes to help lead their troops, and each hero has his or her own set of skills, weapons, attacks, and troops. In addition, each hero can be leveled up and given skill points with which to increase the effectiveness of their commanded units.

The levelling and equipment systems for each hero take some getting used to, but they can become as addicting as the tower defense itself

This aspect almost makes it as much RPG as it is Tower Defense, which may actually split its player base down the middle. For those looking for a pick up and play game into which they don’t have to invest much thought outside of where they place their troops, this will be very off-putting. However, players looking for a much more demanding game will fall in love with the hours of grinding and levels which, on occasion, may take up to as long as forty minutes. Hell, simply learning the leveling and equipment systems is a task which might take some less committed players up to two hours to fully understand.

On a more technical level, the game won’t exactly grab anyone with its visuals. In fact, the blocky character design looks somewhat like it was taken directly from RPG Maker. Okay, that might be a little cruel. Let’s say RPG Maker 2 (or some incarnation thereof). In spite of this, visuals are rarely the draw of a good game in this genre.

After 40 minutes, when the boss makes it to your final encampment on wave 114, the line between throwing your hands in the air, and your iPad at the wall is extremely thin

Levels are set up on a platformer-esque 2D plane akin to that of any of the famous “run and jump from left to right” games of the past. It’s an interesting response to the standard bird’s eye view, and aside from minor clutter and an occasional inability to decipher which area of the level the enemies are charging, it works fairly well.

Defender Chronicles 2 may initially come off as a drop in the pond, but it certainly manages to achieve the sought after “it” factor which shoots addiction into the hearts of Tower Defense fans. The one barrier to entry is the commitment of time and effort. The breakdown is simple: If I’m looking for a tower defense fix, and I’m not on an airplane for 3 hours, I’ll likely boot up something more along the lines of Kingdom Rush (TMA Review). However, if I know I have a good chunk of free time, Defender Chronicles 2: Heroes of Athelia is an excellent way to fully engross myself in the cultish glare of an iPad screen.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of AtheliaDeveloper: Gimka Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:1.1.1Min OS Req:3.2
Price:$0.99App Size:208.31MB
  • Innovative RPG elements
  • Highly addictive gameplay
  • Perfect for those looking to invest a lot of time
  • Clunky interface
  • Extremely long missions
  • Forgettable graphics and design

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