A seemingly nice co-op game in the platformer and tower defense genre with the added difficulty if played solo.
Type: Single-player, Co-op
Genre: Platformer, Tower Defense
Developer: GUTS Department
Publisher: Humble Games
Release date: 8 Feb, 2018
Are you fond of platformers and tower defense games? How about playing both at the same time? Aegis Defenders provides both elements in the same game with some co-op elements in it. Both genres are not mixed into one – they exist as two different sections that complement each other.
Note that although the game supports co-op, I played this solo, so my review will be based on that.
The combination of pixel arts and non-pixel arts is used well in this game. Characters are portrayed in sketch-like drawings on the cutscenes with the use of a more polished one in the portraits. I usually don’t feel attached to characters in a game, but I somehow did in Aegis Defenders due to the art style. Characters have a clean and polished look with a strong color palette and a certain color as their focus. The pixelated arts are also lovely – each environment looks unique and the usage of vibrant colors and light effects help to set the mood.
The story was divided into two sections: the low-quality cutscene that speaks about what was happening in the world and the high-quality one with dialogues between main characters. To be honest, I found the first one to be hard to understand at first. The low occurrence of the cutscene doesn’t help either – I tend to forget what was happening when the next one shows up. Luckily, both cutscene will be connected in some way or another, making sense of everything.
While the story is important, what captivates me the most is the conversation between the characters. Each character has a unique personality and the conversation between them tends to bring a smile to my face.
Each level is divided into two sections: a platformer and a tower defense section. Some areas in the platformer section require cooperation between characters, showing that the game is more focused on the co-op side. While it’s still doable to finish these areas by yourself, some areas will take a longer time to finish since you have to do everything one by one.
As a single-player game, you need to do a lot of tasks: commanding other characters to follow or unfollow you, collecting all resources, and setting up buildings in the tower defense section. While the latter one is easier to be done solo if you are not communicating with each other, the first two can be time-consuming to do, punishing you greatly if you have to do this while dealing with a horde of enemies at the same time.
The follow and unfollow command needs some time to get used to – I was almost finished with the game by the time that I noticed that I could see whether the other characters are following me or not. I had to press the command button until the character speaks something that I understand as a follow/unfollow command since I thought there was no other way to check it. I also thought that the game will reset the command when I switch characters, thus making it always end up as a follow command on the first attempt after switching. While I understand why the game didn’t implement it like this, the confusion adds more difficulty to the game, especially since time is limited in the tower defense section.
The platformer elements feel empty despite the high occurrence. There isn’t much to do apart from switching between characters to get through each area. The game might introduce some minibosses to add more variety, but they are too easy to defeat. Controls are also clunky that you can’t press the up button while you jump – doing so will undo the jump, making you fall to the ground.
Unlike the platformer section, all characters are vital to beat the game in this section. Each character can build different types of buildings, cross-combining them if necessary, as long as you have the resources. Some characters excel in collecting resources that are spread across the area, some are more proficient in their attacks. All characters’ roles are divided very well in this regard, and the characters that you are not using will be treated as a building if you order them to standby, each with different functionalities.
Although it’s normal to have timers in a tower defense game, sometimes, the timer between waves is too short. Some resources are spawned too far from each other, making them hard to collect. This also makes it clear that the game is more geared towards co-op play, although tower defense fans that love some challenge will enjoy the limitation.
Length and Difficulty
I finished the game in 22.6h. The game has 4 difficulty settings, and I played the hardest one for an achievement. It wasn’t difficult to finish the game as long as you know what to do.
You can’t shoot diagonally to the bottom although you can do the same thing to the top. I also tend to misclick the controls since there are so many buttons that you need to press – the game is more suited for controllers.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
I didn’t like the game at first. Ordering the AI that didn’t want to move as I wanted while struggling with the controls doesn’t make the game to be an enjoyable one. However, the controls become more bearable later on, especially after understanding how the follow/unfollow command work, which is vital to the game. Although the platformer section doesn’t seem to shine, the unique storytelling makes up for it with its dialogues. I could see that the game will be more enjoyable in co-op, although people who like tower defense games will still enjoy the increased difficulty by playing solo.