In my reviews I try to bring to your attention games that are not just good, but that push the boundaries of style/game-play that little bit further while maintaining a high level of playability and fun... And Defender II by FallenMaster is another of those games! I was first attracted to this title by the graphics - they have a unique hand drawn quality that I really liked and they are what gives you a first hint as to the original nature of the game.
The game starts with a nice presentation screen with a few options for sound and music as well as whether to play in windowed mode or not, and when you are ready you click on "Prepare" which take you to the main character selection screen. Here you can create your defender by giving him a name and choosing a colour, and then once created you can customise the controls to your liking as well as see your stats and achievements. It should be noted that you can create more than one defender and assign each one different controls... so this means that two people can play this game at once! No, wait... 3 people!! No... Wow!!! FIVE PEOPLE at once!!! The keyboard may get a bit crowded but with a game pad or two and the mouse this is actually pretty feasible and I though that this was a great addition to an already interesting game. It is definitely a feature that I appreciate!
Now, before going any further I should say that I have one major complaint about the game... There is no story, no help and no tutorial! With a complex game of this nature I really feel that this is a bit of a black mark against the developer, but I also urge any potential players to persevere and not be put off by this as it really is worth the time invested in learning how things work! The game itself is an odd mix of tower defense, rpg and hack'n'slash that melds together surprisingly well considering all that it contains... Your character is a "defender" (of what you donīt know, as I said earlier!) who must fight against increasingly difficult waves of ghostly enemies, and to do this you have a variety of skill based attacks as well as magic and your trusty baston. Each of these things have their own stats - intelligence, strength and agility - which can be up-graded to give access to more powerful attacks. The upgrade screen is accessed from a portal in the game world, and once there you are presented with a multitude of details and options. It seems a bit confusing at first, but taking your time to read the mouse-over tool-tips will soon make it clear as to what it all means, and then you can start spending money on improving your stats! You may also upgrade the armour and weapons of your player and these changes are reflected in the game graphics, so you can visibly see how mean and tough your defender is becoming! A nice detail...
Apart from the player options, there are also certain world elements that can be bought and that are actually essential if you want to get the most out of this title and play successfully. The most important of these is the castle, which, when you have enough money, allows you build a fortress in the real world. this can then be populated with canons, archers and wizards!!! It can also be given passages and different levels, allowing your player to travel from level to level to fight different enemies (some of them fly)... another nice tough that gives added depth and strategic possibilities to the game-play.
The game-play itself is simple, like all good hack'n'slash games! Your character must travel around the screen, destroying all enemies that come his way while collecting gold to buy better things with. It doesnīt sound very inspiring, I know, but the controls are very well thought out and easy to master (left, right, jump, choose skill/magic, and a melee and skill/magic attack) while the number and type of enemies is excellent! Some of them fly, some come out the ground and grab onto you, some are invisible etc... my favorites are the yellow blobs that explode and fire octopus at you that then stick to you and suck out your life! Very original, very well thought out and they all provide just the right amount of challenge to be entertaining but not frustrating. This is all beautifully drawn and brought to life in a reduced game world, and although the graphics may seem naive or amateur, the truth is that they look great and work very well within the framework of the game. The sound is good too and adds to the atmosphere, although the music is a bit boring and I ended up switching it off after a while.
All in all this is a most enjoyable game, and due to the multiple choices you can take while playing (A strong or an agile character? Build a castle from the start or is it better to buy stats? etc...) it has a longer shelf-life than many GM games out there. The mechanics may be simple, but it never gets boring due to the sheer wealth of different enemies that are thrown at you and the fact that your character can change in many different ways... Add to that the ability to play in co-op mode with a friend or two and you have a very, very good game! I canīt recommend this enough...
Edited by Mark13673, 01 June 2010 - 03:02 PM.