With so many great tower defense options out there, you’ll never need to play this one
I’ll be spending the next 700 or so words explaining to you why you shouldn’t buy Defenders of Ardania. It would be best that you not bother reading them and just trust me, but that statement alone is not what I was hired to do. So, here it goes.
I love tower defense games. I’ve reviewed a few and played many more on PC, Android, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and while I wouldn’t call myself an authority, I definitely have had more than my fair share of experience with them. That said, I think Defenders of Ardania had a pretty decent idea that was executed fairly poorly.
What attempts to set it apart is adding light RTS elements where you can send groups of soldiers out to make their way across the set path and attack the opponent’s base. These groups of soldiers are essential to winning the map, as they’re the only way to attack the opposing base, and destroying it is the only way to win. So why is it that they are so tedious and boring to use?
Well to start with, on each map there is a limit to the number of towers you and your opponent may place, so everyone has a finite amount of attack power to destroy the soldier groups. It kind of feels like there are two identical single player games going at the same time. Even though the opposing soldier groups are taking the exact same path, they never acknowledge each other’s existence. They only attack the base by default or head to the rally flag that you can place along the way. They will literally run through each other to get to their destination, getting pelted by the towers along the way. There’s nothing special going on in this mechanic.
The finite amount of attack power also lends itself to very long, drawn-out matches that breakdown to who sends the right soldier units out at the right time. That might sound like there’s some strategy involved, but everything happens at such a slow pace that things never get one-sided. The units vary in armor, attack power and speed, but sometimes the only ones who can reach the base alive are the very slowest, armor-heavy and self-healing units. They move so incredibly slow that I was able to get more done in Tiny Tower than the game I was supposed to be focusing on.
Defenders of Ardania also does a horrendously poor job of letting you know how to play the game. During the unnecessarily long tutorial levels you’re told about mechanics that you can’t focus on because the match is in full swing. On many occasions I had to pause and look up the controls since I completely missed the audio cue while I was setting up my towers. It also had the tendency to teach mechanics that were not made available to you. What is the point in doing that? It just confuses the player.
To add insult to injury, the user interface was built on a number of poor and confusing choices. By default, the grid overlay of where you can place towers and the path that the soldiers will take is turned off – you have to hit F1 to turn it on. That an absolutely crucial element is turned off by default is highly suspect. The rest of in-game menus are clumsy to navigate and unintuitive to look at and use. It’s these sort of misgivings that make you wonder if the developers ever actually playtested this thing.
At this point in my life, I have too little time to want to spend it with games that are as poorly designed as Defenders of Ardania. Beyond pieces of the core idea, there’s almost nothing in the finished product that is worth your time. With so many other tower defense choices out there it’s hard to imagine why you’d want to play this over any of the ones that are actually good. Avoid at all costs.