Two of my favourite games for my portable devices are Chess and Tower Defense games.It is kind of obvious that a game combining these two into a completely new mix of real time strategy using the strategies of TD and restrictions of Chess would get me excited. The addition of a neon Geometry Wars-esque graphical style, polished presentation and cool voiced snippets just blew me away. If a game ever was to be tailored after my taste it has to work hard to nail it more accurately than Knight Defense HD.
The controls in Knight Defense HD are all touch based. The pieces in the game have the same movement restrictions as found in chess. You are not bound by turn based restrictions though, and are free to move whenever you want to. The aim of the game is to survive all the waves of enemy chess pieces out to get your king. Creating a good line of defense while at the same time be able to utilise the special powers each unit takes a lot of planning. Pawns can freeze opponents, bishops can heal and rooks fire lasers. Points gained by killing opponents let you upgrade your pieces, and this is also a huge aspect of the game. Should you upgrade the line of pawns first or the single rook capable of covering an entire row? Upgrades also heal the pieces, and if you have upgraded too quickly you risk loosing pieces even though they are strong in firepower.
Combining the known games of chess and tower defense is pure brilliance, and it is really easy to get into the game. The learning curve is further lowered due to the fact that you are free to set up your pieces before the enemy onslaught starts. When you have created a great defense you can speed up the game, and focus on upgrading. As enemies keep spawning at different spawn points double speeding the game can mean disaster if you miss a spawn point that all of a sudden throws out loads of enemy rooks for example. The enemies gravitate towards the king, and at times a solid small defense is the way to go by just surrounding the king with units. If the enemies break through it is game over quickly though.
As mentioned the presentation is great with neon glow graphics, cool effects and a user friendly user interface. The music is a driving electronic mix somewhere between ambient and techno. It suits the game perfectly, and if you play your own music it automatically disappears but sound effects are kept. The sound effects are powerful, and a synthesized voice tells you when you upgrade your pieces. Overall the presentation is polished, and takes cues both from the best chess applications and the best tower defense games. Another thing I really like is the fact that the game can be played in either orientation. It rescales, and moves some information around in a manner that both orientations feel like they have their own strong points.
There are 25 levels available spread over three different levels of difficulty. Generally levels are short, and the levels will be over in a matter of hours. A random survival mode is unlockable as a $0.99 IAP. To me that should be included in the core game, and level packs could have been used as IAP instead. Knight Defense HD comes with both Game Center and OpenFeint integration for leaderboards and achievements.
Knight Defense HD is a brilliant mix of real time strategy, and tower defense with a classic chess theme. The presentation is polished, and the entire product feels well made. More levels, and more game modes would have been nice to give the game a longer game life. To me this is a fresh take on the tower defense genre, and at times it gets as intense as an arcade game. It gets an Editor’s Choice award, and my warm recommendation.
Knight Defense HD $0.99
Seller: Milan Nikolic