Prime World: Defenders was released for the PC/Mac sometime in 2013 – last month, this card collecting tower defense (TD) game, now simply called Defenders was released for the iPad (you can also check out appSIZED's review of Man At Arms TD, which employs the same mechanic).
There is a story to this game and your mission mainly is to defend powerful and valuable prime (crystals) from the Touched (enemies or creeps, in TD parlance) who want to take it for themselves. Caught in the middle of two warring groups trying to control the resource, your job is to keep them away using various powerful towers.
The first thing I can say about Defenders is that it's gorgeously imagined and designed in 3D. The colors are vibrant, the towers really come to life and there's a neat feature of panning and zooming the screen to adjust your perspective. On a side note, while this is a very nice feature, it's also hard to figure out where the creeps are headed and where to place towers (some are obstructed by the view), even with arrows subtly pointing the way.
Your towers come from a deck of cards that you build by gaining silver coins for each successful campaign. You have mini-campaigns and then you have the ultimate level to beat, which also earns you extra cards on top of the silver.
With enough coins, you can make your towers stronger in two ways: the fuse method and the evolution method.
When you 'fuse' cards, you use cards designated as 'artifacts' to boost your card's efficiency and damage. When you 'evolve' your card, you combine several identical cards to make a stronger and more powerful one.
In both cases, you need to have enough silver to afford to fuse or evolve cards.
Please note that in Defenders, fusing or evolving, you don't create new cards, only level up or strengthen existing ones – which, in my opinion, takes out a lot of fun and mystery in the process.
The part where you need to have enough silver to afford fusing or evolving cards hinders my enjoyment of the Defenders It's annoying to have a deck full of promising cards, eating up space, and not be able to combine them for lack of money. Although you can earn silver and cards through some games of luck and chance, you will end up grinding a lot to get to that point. Of course, there is a not so subtle push towards IAP, which offers rare cards up for grabs.
As for the gameplay itself, Defenders contains some unique features of other beloved TD games such as The Creeps (destroyable elements), Fieldrunners (maps), etc. In addition, there are key points on the map that will enable you to boost your tower's range and performance (anomalies), and in the case of enemies, increase their speed or heal them (totems).
While Defenders is truly a visual feast, the TD aspect itself is a bit bland, and the maps are rather small. It's quite funny to see the creeps go round and turn back and around again til they finally leave.
That said, Defenders is an adequate and stylish TD game that will surely appeal to casual players and newcomers to tower defense. The gorgeous graphics alone is worth the price of admission, but as for its staying power, I have my reservations.
Check out the report card below:
Rating: 4 out of 5
Link: Defenders for iPad
Compatibility: iPad only
Version reviewed: 1.0
Genre: Tower Defense