Aegis Defenders – Tower Defence Indie Game Review
The big stage of the pixel adventure is a post-apocalyptic world that has long been haunted by wild beetles, caterpillars and other creatures. What makes these creatures so aggressive is to be found out in the role of the young Clu and her likeable grandfather Bart.
Aegis Defenders is controlled in much the same way as Blizzard’s classic platform game Lost Vikings: At the touch of a button, you switch between two protagonists, each with different abilities. Huntress Clu can plant bombs, set traps and target enemy packs with long-range weapons. Engineer Bart concentrates on close combat and the installation of automatic gun turrets.
In the course of the almost eight-hour story, two more playable heroes join the troops, which opens up many new tactical possibilities. Keyword tactics: At the end of each of the 18 levels, the developers confront you with a crisp tower defense passage. Enemies storm in from all directions and now it is up to Clu and Co. to keep the invaders at bay for five waves with cleverly positioned defensive positions and a variety of upgradeable gadgets. A lot of fun – especially in co-op mode!
Humanity was thrown back into the Stone Age. Only the remnants of former technology still exist and only a powerful weapon called the aegis could save a village from destruction. Clu and her grandfather Bart therefore go in search of the legendary weapon.
At its core, the title is a fusion of a platformer adventure and a tower defense game: the gameplay can therefore be divided into two different phases. First you explore a level in good old platformer style, solve some puzzles and get rid of certain enemies. In some places it feels a bit clunky, especially because of the somewhat unintuitive controls. The puzzles are well staged and give you a little sense of achievement every time you solve them.
After the first few sections, you quickly notice how the level of difficulty increases and becomes quite demanding. You can always decide to get through the level as quickly as possible and go straight to the tower defense part, but then you are missing important items that give various bonuses when completing a mission: For example, more money for better weapons and Equipment and points that you can invest in your towers to increase their repartee.
Improving your equipment is a particularly important point, because as already mentioned, the difficulty increases steadily and sometimes leaves you behind if you don’t adapt yourself properly. The whole thing seems a bit cumbersome because there is no option to play the game on “Easy” and it can be quite a challenge even on “Normal”.
At the end of each level you have to protect a certain thing, an artifact or several characters from burning monster waves. For this you should cleverly use and combine the towers that you can build. You have to pay particular attention to the colors of the monsters. If you attack a yellow monster with a yellow weapon, you do more damage than with a different color.
Pretty quickly you notice that not only your towers are effective weapons in the fight against the monsters, but also your characters themselves. You can command them to stop and defend their position with more or less successful key combinations. A small “Hero Line Wars” aspect also finds its way into the gameplay, even if you unfortunately cannot equip your characters with spectacular skills.
The first tower defense missions are still quite simple. At the latest from halfway through it gets really tricky and you have to decide exactly which tower to place where. Nevertheless, the game always motivates you to try new combinations and gives you moments of happiness when they really work.
But there are also a few shadows: In some levels you have to defend a moving base. That sounds like an interesting concept at first, but it quickly gets too busy and leads to the fact that you have to play the level more often than usual in order to win, since you simply have to memorize the respective “spawn points” and colors of the opponents. The checkpoint system in particular doesn’t seem to work in these levels. If your base is destroyed, you have to start all over again, which is annoying, since such sections can take up 15 minutes of your time.
At this point, the side missions that you can take on between your main levels are worthy of praise. Here you always have to help a stray hiker (beware of the cameo alarm!) Out of trouble and get a special item for it. These sections are very interesting as they turn the game’s gameplay upside down and offer varied interludes.
The plot and aesthetics of the game often make an inclined fan of the Ghibli film studio think of “Nausicaä from the Valley of the Winds”. Again, it is about large, machine-like weapons that have destroyed the earth in the past. But also the style of how the characters, especially Bart, were designed shows clear parallels with the films by Hayao Miyazaki. The story itself does not come close to its great role models: Although the game knows how to lure with lovable characters and an interesting premise, all in all the story feels a little sluggish and too long.
The graphics are always breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly detailed. It is worthwhile to simply stop in the levels and look at the backgrounds that are presented to you. This also creates a very dense atmosphere, which skilfully reflects the state of the world in which the characters are. Aside from the graphic style, one could possibly criticize the frame rate, which drops slightly, especially in the last sections, but it is really not that important.
The mixture of puzzle platformer and tower defense action not only looks extremely charming thanks to its colorful pixel look, but also plays amazingly refreshing. The latter is especially due to the cleverly worked out co-op mechanics, the nerve-racking defense passages and the continuously increasing difficulty. But also the interesting narrative universe as well as the wittily staged characters quickly became dear to my heart. The platform sections, on the other hand, could have been a bit more extensive. Apart from that, Aegis Defenders is a real indie insider tip.
For all who love Tower Defence Games and PC games where you have to build your base and defend it against monsters, aliens or other creepy stuff you should check out this video: