Defender Chronicles is a game from Gimka and Menara Games, published by Chillingo. It was one of those titles I had picked up on a whim based on a random suggestion (and a weekend sale!) that I just fell in love with. I apologize in advance for any sort of gushing that I do during this review.
Ooh, real scary, Mr. Orc.
Defender Chronicles puts a completely different spin on tower defense games: you build guilds instead of towers, you are viewing from the side instead of a top-down view, and you have a hero who can gain experience and levels and be outfitted with gear. Guilds are essentially buildings that recruit units who stand outside and beat the crap out of anything that walks in front of it, which makes me wonder if these are actually just bars.
Guilds come in four distinct flavours, Warrior guilds, Archery guilds, Mage guilds, and Thieves guilds. Warriors are your run-of-the-mill action heroes, they are suited up in full plate armour and they carry a big stick, a big, sharp stick. Archers are weaker in attack compared to Warriors, but they attack three times as fast, so they are much better suited for attacking faster but weaker creatures, as well as flying creatures which neither Warriors, Thieves, or your hero can attack. Mages have a stronger ranged attack in comparison to Archers but at a reduced rate, but they also prioritize their attacks for the stronger enemies, which is perfect when paired up with Archers, who will attack the weaker enemies. Last but not least, Thieves are essentially mini-Warriors (Literally, they’re Hobbits.) who will block and slow down enemies, and net you an extra gold for every kill they make. In addition, they will poison whoever they slash, but they will not attack anything that they deem strong, wusses. In addition, Warriors can be upgraded to Beserkers and Archers can be upgraded to Rangers, both are much stronger versions of their predecessors.
Oh crap he’s actually coming.
You’re going to need all four of these guild types in Defender Chronicles, because the enemies are vast in number, both variety and volume. You will be attacked by legions of orcs and gnolls, and little creatures whom I have never even seen before, and it is your job to stop them all. Should you fail, your last line of defense is you, your valiant hero standing at the gates of the city, who can level up and have his stats increased, and have a weapon and armour fitted onto him. Of course, if the creature is quite a bit stronger than usual creatures, like a boss, your hero will get flattened like a bug, so try to make sure nothing reaches him but outliers and stragglers.
There are six levels which all have different environments, enemy variants, and different strategies. In addition, there is a shop to buy items, a library to buy research, and an elf hut to also buy research. The game itself is still being updated with new maps, buildings, items, and upgrades while the storyline progresses, so you really do get a good bang for your buck.
The graphics themselves may not seem all that impressive initially, but once you take a closer look, you can really see all of the detail behind the sprites, levels, and other art. You can see the little serrations in the sword of the orcs, the straps of leather across their armour, the lighting of the environments, and the detail in all of the art in the game. Graphics don’t normally impress me, but Defender Chronicles has a really well polished look that gives the game a complete feeling and really adds to the fantasy aspects of the game.
Worst. British Accent. Ever.
Defender Chronicles has a fantastic soundtrack that gives the game that sort of “epic” feeling that you really need when dealing with hordes of evil minions. The sound effects are distinct, they are clear, and they actually sound like what they are supposed to sound like. A great addition to the game was the ability to play the songs you have in your iPod, but you can only select songs, and you have no real control over what plays. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t allow for you to have your iPod playing in the background either.
Defender Chronicles was also the first game I have ever played on the iPhone with full voice acting for the stories. The gentleman who acts as your advisor will speak to you before every battle, and all of your units will shout out battle cries. It’s a very nice touch, that you can thankfully turn off should you ever get annoyed of it. The ability to turn it off is a fantastic option because the voice acting was actually kind of cringe-inducing at times, which may be one of the few drawbacks of this game.
Four extra modes of madness.
The game has plenty of extras to speak of. The Custom Game feature adds to the replayability of the game, where you can play four extra modes: Freestyle (Random), Extended, Classic, Classic Extended. Each of the four modes is unique in its own way and will give you another reason to play through the levels again. In addition, you can go ahead and send an e-mail full of smack talk to a friend or colleague challenging them to an artifact hunt in the game. Personally, I’ve gone ahead and challenged everyone I know without an iPhone or iPod Touch, because I know I’d win that match.
Defender Chronicles is a game that is huge in scope and depth, which gives tower defense a unique twist that will keep your eyes glued to that tiny screen for hours upon hours. You’d better buy this game, or you’re going to miss out.