Fantasy epics are the heart of gaming. While it’s exciting to fight for one’s country as a soldier or earn some dubious cash as a mercenary, the fantasy genre represents what we seek from games – a temporary reprieve the real world. Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, and the massive World of Warcraft offer that heady fantasy world we love. With this in mind, Gimka and Menara Games, publishing under Chillingo, banded together to produce Defender Chronicles: Legend of the Desert King for the iPod Touch and iPhone.
The premise is simple; three kingdoms exist in the land of Men, Orcs, and Beasts. The Beast King kept the two other kingdoms in check, maintaining an uneasy balance. However, that changed when the Beast King suddenly disappeared, giving the Orcs the chance they’d long desired. Orcish troops moved out, sacking and conquering. Now the Humans must repel this invasion. You play the commander of the royal armies, simply called The General, fighting monsters, Orcs, and other beasts across various maps.
Defender Chronicles is basically a tower defense game, similar to Knights Onrush. Enemies move past your fortifications, and you must blast them before they reach a certain point. However, this is a tower defense game with a twist. You rarely get a simple path between the start and end of the map. Enemies take twisting paths, move through tunnels, and even come from both top and bottom. Diverse enemy units also make matters more intricate, like little balls of slime which break down into smaller versions of themselves.
Units fight these intruders, new versions of which are introduced in later levels. All units must be carefully placed considering the terrain and the oncoming enemies. Warriors have the highest attack rating in the game, but are slow to attack. Archers fire more rapidly then warriors, and have the longest range, but don’t do as much damage. Mages can kill in one shot, but are also slow to fire. You must place these in the right spots to ensure they are used to maximum effect. Let me tell you, that is a tricky prospect. Defender Chronicles is one hard game. Often I had to lower the difficulty to the lowest setting to win. If you’re more of a casual player, this isn’t the game for you.
However, if you do like a challenge, this is for you. The game looks good, with each unit having a unique look, method of attack, and manner of speech. The backgrounds look good as well, placing you in leafy forested areas and mountainous regions. The graphics are nothing to sneeze at, and the animation quality is very smooth.
Defender Chronicle’s biggest problem is its audio. It’s not the sound effects or music, which is repetitive but suitable, but the voice acting. The voice actors in the game are clearly reading from a script with all the emotion and enthusiasm that entails. I’m not asking for sweeping performances, but a little more enthusiasm would have helped.
Controls present no problems. Each level is dotted with flags, which represent where you can place troops. This is your sole interaction during game play (discounting the options and map screen). You press a flag and choose a unit from a list – which need Guild Houses to be summoned. The placing of each Guild House costs 20 points, and after that there is an increasing fee to upgrade your units. On the bigger levels, you’ll heavily manage points to bring all your units up to snuff. Mechanically, it works fine.
Defender Chronicles is well put together, but the rising level of difficulty will discourage casual players. The voice acting is not up to par, but that’s a minor issue. If you can excuse those two things, you’ll enjoy Defender Chronicles.