Since the first Defender Chronicles was released back in 2009 there has been hundreds of tower defence games released upon the App Store.
There has only been one game released in the castle/hero defence genre that Defender Chronicles kind of invented, and that is A Knights Dawn. It strikes me as odd considering I absolutely adored Defender Chronicles three years ago. The more I think about why there hasn’t been a flood of games copying the formula the more confused I get. Either the first game got it all right making it near impossible to create a better game, or what I considered to be a birth of a genre was simply an off-shot from the ordinary tower defence genre. Nevertheless no game has bested it, and I was really stoked when words of a sequel surfaced.
After spending quite a few really pleasurable hours with Defender Chronicles 2 I have to conclude that nothing much has changed. With three years between the games I had hoped to see some new ideas developed. It is certainly bigger, and the graphics have had some serious overhaul. The game is universal for the iPad, and iPhone and runs just as well on both formats. What it fails to do however is syncing my progress between the devices making it bound to be played on only one. I started playing on my iPhone, as this is a perfect game to play when standing in line at the supermarket. When at home in my sofa it is also a great time sink using the iPad. Sadly I have had to ditch it on the phone, as replaying levels from the start is not that fun.
To those not familiar to the formula it is quite simple to explain in one sentence: don’t let the enemy through. Enemies move along set paths, either by foot or wing. You have to plan ahead to make sure you have archers, and other ranged fighters in range of the flying enemies. It is far too easy to focus on the foot soldiers, and forgetting about the flying menace. You can only place your soldiers at set build points, and the game is all about maximising killing capacity. Melee soldiers can stop enemies for a short time period allowing ranged fighters to volley an extra batch of arrows or fireballs. Somewhere on the level your hero can be found, and he or she is a formidable ally.
Upgrading your troops, or building more is the second question you have to ponder when it comes to tactics. The first is what troop to place where. It is easy to upgrade, or sell you placed units. I tend to create a couple of strong units at the end of the map, and spread weaker units across the start. Finding the optimal strategy is really hard, and really rewarding. I have yet to figure some maps out completely even after replaying more than 30 times.
With four levels of difficulty the game is quite forgiving, and allows you to progress in the story even at the lowest level of challenge. Between battles you get to upgrade your hero, and buy new gear using the in game currency. Even when failing a level you get a small compensation, and some experience. There is a lot of IAP only items, and even an IAP only shop. I am not a fan of this, as it alters the experience if you buy too powerful items.
As I mentioned earlier the graphics has been improved quite a bit. The basic unit, enemy and map design are still the same as the original. Pinching in and out does zooming in, and out. I prefer a zoomed out view to get a good overview of the battlefield, but at times it is nice to see my units duking it out in close-up. The music hasn’t changed a lot either, and is a mix of ambient and adventure music. There is also cool theatrical voice acting explaining the setting for the upcoming battle. While playing your units have a number of cool, albeit after a few hours repetitive one-liners.
Defender Chronicles 2 is a great game, but as sequels go it hasn’t really evolved from the original. Some aspects could be improved, such as the progress not syncing over devices. Too much IAP spoils the experience slightly in my opinion. If you loved the original definitely pick up the sequel, but if you had a lukewarm feeling nothing much has changed. To those not at all familiar with the genre I recommend getting a lite of the original first.
I have to conclude that the formula was perfect three years ago, and the original still goes down as one of those games that made me believe in iOS as a proper platform for deep games. I have given five-star ratings to five iOS games in the last three years, and Defender Chronicles was the first ever. I am really glad that it got a sequel to give another shot of life into the formula, and a new opportunity for strategy gamers to enjoy it.