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The tower defense genre is overflowing with boring carbon copies and redundant gameplay. Most of the time all you notice is a slight change in the setting (space, fantasy, or some old medieval place) and usually comes with the usual styles of towers (slowing, rapid fire, anti-air, and area of effect). Defenders of Ardania is, indeed, a tower defense game through and through. It maintains all the stereotypes of its genre and does so in a less than stellar way. It’s not bad, it’s not amazing; it’s what you would expect from the sort of game that it is and the sort of game it presents itself as.
It begins with an introduction from your advisor who is apparently a hooded version of Sean Connery. He gives you some basic instruction on how to place towers, send units, and view the grid of spaces that units and towers can travel over and be built on. This is some very basic exposition here, nothing too fancy. You fight bravely against an army of shambling undead share some words with Sean and go on your way. You move from stage to stage afterwards learning how to upgrade your towers and unlock new units as you gain more allies. The overall progression of story and gameplay turns out to be the only really redeeming factor of this game even though the dialogue is a tad overdramatic. The setting is right but the mood is ruined by the game's inability to take itself seriously as a story.
Defenders of Ardania flies the tower defense flag and thus the gameplay runs basically identical to any other tower defense game you’ve ever played. The basics include building towers of different types on a grid to try and protect your base from increasingly difficult waves. This game is interesting in that not only are you defending your base from waves of enemies and building towers but you are also sending waves of units yourself towards the enemy base trying to break through their network of towers to destroy their base. One would expect that adding this sort of two sided aspect to the game would make it very dynamic and complex but the AI is very simple and easily overcome along with the best unit choice being pretty much the wizards who are almost impossible to bring down and destroys towers. This really just destroys any chance this game had to be difficult. Throw some towers down, buy upgrades, and sit tight until you can send 30 wizards at once.
Another unique aspect of this game is that it seems to be very behind the times. It’s a rare trait to still actually have generic game design flaws that one would have thought had been bred out of our carbon copy games by now. One such error is the inability to skip the overly drawn out and boring dialogue at the beginning of each level. Not settled with just one glaring problem, the game gets very unresponsive as more units (which happens frequently) enter the game. If you are playing on a four player map then middle of the screen brings almost three seconds worth of delay on clicking my “make more wizards” button.
The visuals in the game serve to be the only leg Defenders of Ardania really has to stand on. They are fine, and that’s as far as I’ll take it, just fine. I can appreciate the style thrown into the wizard’s robes and the animations on the crossbow tower but overall the game could have been much better looking. While lacking in texture the color palate was more than satisfactory using certain colors to accent characters, spells, and upgraded towers.
Overall this is a fun waste of time for about ten minutes before it delves into the realm of frustrating and boring gameplay. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone trying to get some bang for his buck but if you have some money to waste and enjoy a game based in a fantasy setting then go for it.