Review: Defenders of Ardania (XBLA)

Review: Defenders of Ardania (XBLA)

I remember quite enjoying a flash based web tower defense game years ago. I had played tower defense style games before, but none had really captured my attention or entertained me in the way Desktop Tower Defense did. Something about the design of the enemies, the open area for building mazes of damage, and the desktop background all clicked for me and gave me what remains to this day one of my favorite tower defense titles. In recent years, the tower defense genre has been making its presence felt in hugely successful ways on consoles as digital downloads, each with its own twist on the genre. The latest twist comes in the form of Defenders of Ardania, mixing RTS elements with tower defense basics.

Defenders of Ardania has a more classic Tower Defense style and feel to it than some of the more popular tower defense-esque titles it competes with on the marketplace. The scenery (which is attractive enough) and the towers have a very medieval feel to them, which fits the tower defense motif perfectly, in my mind. The real standout for Defenders of Ardania is the inclusion of offense. The concept is fantastic: not only do you have to defend your home base from the invading hordes, but to complete the stage, you have to defeat the home base of said invading hordes with your own hordes. It’s a solid concept that needs a bit of refinement. The battles that start off as entertaining quickly become battles of attrition. You set up your towers quickly in order to defend, and then spend the next 5-10 minutes churning out attackers and wearing down your enemy’s HP.

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The story mode provides a way of keeping you invested in progressing through the various tower defense levels, in spite of the corny humor and odd Sean Connery impersonation. You at least have a reason to go from stage to stage. The biggest problem comes in the tutorial/skill unlock pace. With the length of each battle, you would think that basic skills (such as upgrading or even removing a tower) would be gradually unlocked within the first stage. Instead, it seems that each individual stage is given one (maybe two) new pieces of information. With each stage lasting 5-15 minutes due to the aforementioned war of attrition, the learning curve is painfully slow.

For $14.99, Defenders of Ardania is best suited to big fans of the tower defense genre. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a starting point in the genre for the uninitiated, considering that it will feel like a drag at some point, but the game has an awesome concept, and it is well presented. Defenders of Ardania gives you standard tower defense, but it also puts you in the position of the attacking horde at the same time. It’s a fun concept that needs a little refinement, but in the end, it’s fun in spite of itself.

Review

ProsCons
Tower defense/offense battle style is fun
Story progression maintains player interest
Multiplayer
Offense becomes a grind
Tutorial/skill unlocks figuratively take forever
Can become confusing visually
Rating
75 out of 100
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