Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia ($2.99, Universal) is a tower defense strategy game with a character-based RPG element that allows you to take complete control of the players that defend the realm. With five levels of difficulty on each campaign, everyone can have fun playing.
The basic gameplay is simple. You select various points along your enemy’s route and build up defenses to guard against the opposing force. There are several waves of attacks with each level. You can pause each attack to play your strategy and even speed up the rate of the attack when you feel you have everything just right. And as with most tower defense games, deciding where to place your archers, warriors, lizardmen and more than 20 other troop types is just as important as deciding when to upgrade each troop after they are placed. Each troop type in your campaign can be upgraded from level one to level five on the battle field.
Where is gets tricky with many of the levels is that the route taken by each of the 50 different enemy types is not obvious at first. Not being able to see the entire battlefield all at once does not help matters either. So you may find yourself selling off your troops and placing an archer where you first had a squire. And just when you think you have your strategy laid out, a different enemy type starts attacking along a route you were not defending.
Each different enemy type can only be defeated by certain troop types. Archers, for instance, can attach flying enemies like vampire bats whereas squires cannot. So learning your enemy’s strategy and route of attack is key to a successfully campaign and ultimate victory. The goal of each level is to earn all three stars and not allow a single enemy through.
Then there is the RPG aspect of the game. On each level, you can choose which one of four different heroes you wish to use. The heroes are typically the strongest characters and are already placed in a fixed position before the level begins. Each of these heroes develop their skills, arm themselves with magical weapons and armor, earn experience and level up. With each level up, you can choose which of each hero’s abilities you want to increase. Heroes become an important element of the game that you configure before or after each level is played. As the levels increase in difficulty, so does the importance of having a well-developed hero on the battlefield.
With each successful campaign, not only does the hero earn experience, but you also earn tokens. Tokens that can be used at the elf hut and trade shop to purchase armor, weapons and magical items. As an interesting twist, there is also a great library where secrets can be purchased. These secrets will make available additional troop types and other defensive abilities that can be employed on the battlefield. And of course if you want to speed things up a bit and finance a stronger, better-equipped army, you can accelerate things through in-app purchases at the imperial store.
Managing the abilities of each hero, equipping them with items from the shops, and learning the ancient secrets of the library are what it takes to take on the more difficult aspects of the game. At the start of each level, you can choose from one of five different difficulty levels: Novice, Casual, Master, Heroic and Legendary. At its core, this is a simple tower defense game that can be played without paying any attention to the RPG aspects of the game. But if you want to master all five difficulties on each level, then you will have to take more exacting control of your hero’s destiny and choose wisely how you advance their abilities and equip your army.