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PC Game Review: Defenders of Ardania

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Defenders of Ardania is the latest and greatest addition to your collection of tower defense games. This is a beautifully and uniquely done game that will catch you by surprise, as I haven’t played a tower defense game quite like this.

If you haven’t played tower defense games before, you basically defend yourself against an enemy who attacks with a set amount of waves of enemies set to travel along predetermined paths that lead to your base. It sounds simple but it isn’t. Defenders of Ardania is a game of survival and strategy as you place the right towers in the right places to increase efficiency and your chances of survival each level.

However, Defenders of Ardania adds so much more than this to the game, I can’t believe this could be considered just a tower defense game. You don’t sit through a set amount of waves trying to survive because this time the enemy has an unlimited amount of waves. So how do you win this one? You have to destroy the enemy base. That’s right, you have to destroy it, demolish it and ruin it. Not with towers but with your own troops.

Never before have I played this type of game and had my own troops. You have an array of troops to choose form, design and build your own waves to send against the enemy, who by the way is capable of building their own towers to protect themselves. This adds a whole new level of strategy to the game, as you have to place your towers quickly to get strategically important tower locations before the computer can take them. It’s like playing Chess with your towers while playing Risk with your troops. There is a lot going on.

Like all tower defense games, you have the freedom to upgrade your towers and earn resources from kills. Unlike other games, you are limited to the amount of towers you can have. Where most let you build as many as you want, as long as availability on the map allows, Ardania limits your towers to 10 per levels. At least, that’s the most I could ever have as I played the game. Perhaps in the final few levels you get more.

Your troops earn experience while fighting in the battle field. As you send waves of your troops out, whom by the way never are under your control really, they gain experience and become more powerful. Once a particular type of troop reaches level three, you gain access to a special hero specific to that troop type who does massive damage, has a lot of health and can survive almost anything.

Unfortunately, you never really control your troops.  You do get two forms of control but it isn’t much. First, the rally point. This tells your troops to go to a particular location before moving on the enemy base and attacking it. This doesn’t do much and is pretty useless when you only have one target to destroy. However, in missions where you may face multiple enemy bases to destroy, the rally point does function as an “Attack this” marker, letting you control which enemy is killed first. It doesn’t do too much more beyond that unfortunately, or at least not that I’ve found useful.

The second control mechanism is the bounty system. This is a fun and unique system that lets you put a big fat bullseye on an enemy unit or tower. If your units can attack other units as they pass it, they will focus their attacks on this one unit and your towers will do the same when said unit is in firing range. This is great when you have to deal with a hero or bosses. Nothing annoys me more in these games than when you have a boss to kill, but your towers attack everything BUT the boss! This is also great against towers that are devastating your troops. Slap a bounty on that deadly tower, sound out a few squads of tower attack troops and they will make sure to make that tower a pile of rubble.

Lastly, there are economic upgrades you can purchase every level for your army and towers. They range from cheaper units, cheaper upgrades, being able to hold more money in your reserves and many other upgrades to help make you a little more efficient in your battles.

The graphics in Defenders of Ardania are beautiful. Crisp and clean, they give just the right look to a medieval set world about to be taken over by an undead army. Vibrant colors and beautiful environments add to the atmosphere of the game. Every level brings a new and vibrant look that is almost as enjoyable to look at as it is to play. The sounds are great as well. Clear and sharp, you clearly know what is going on as everything has a unique sound. You can almost identify any enemy tower just by its sound alone.  The story of the game is a bit cheesy and fun. It almost feels like a bit of a hat tip to Monty Python and the Holy Grail mixed with Warcraft.

There is so much to this game that it’s out of this world. From the units, experience, towers, upgrades, the strategy involved. Defenders of Ardania is one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had playing a tower defense game. Since there is so much, do I dare call it a tower defense game though? It’s more along the lines of a tower defense with aspects of a real time strategy mixed into it. For people who have never played these types of games, give this a shot. For those who love tower defense, this game will take a moment to learn because there is so much more than just towers, but you won’t regret it in the end.  Defenders of Ardania will be available on December 6th, 2011.

Defenders of Ardania is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence and Mild Language. This game can also be found on: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and iPad.



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