Most of us wake up feeling a little under the weather like it's no big deal; you take some gross medicine, wheedle some pity out of someone to bring you chocolate and comics, and call it a win. Of course, in this kingdom, you go into the Pit, and nobody has ever come out of the Pit... until now. Defender's Quest is an effortlessly addictive, funny, and engrossing strategic tower defense RPG from indie studio, Level Up Labs (Lars Doucet, James Cavin, Kevin Penkin, and Anthony Pecorella) that has come to devour your free time like few other games before it. You've been warned.
As the star of the story, you discover shortly after coming down with the Plague afflicting the kingdom and being chucked unceremoniously into the Pit to die that you've got powers far beyond your ordinary librarian. Able to pull other people into a strange ethereal realm where you can combat the monstrous Revenants and kill them permanently, you set out on a journey to discover the true source of the Plague. It goes without saying, however, that powers like yours soon attract unwanted attention, and along with the companions you draw to your cause, you find yourself on the run for your very life, and perhaps the very future of the kingdom as well. Also, there are Slak, and Wrenna, who are the best. You'll see. You'll see.
Gameplay in Defender's Quest is more or less described as a tower defense game with RPG elements; the meat of it lies within its challenging and strategic levels, but between battles you'll get to recruit party members, learn more about the story, manage equipment, and so forth. In each stage you start off alone; except for a few magic spells, you can't really attack the enemies directly, so you'll need to summon in friends and recruits at the cost of PSI points to defend you. Each different class has their own unique attacks and abilities, and if they've leveled up sufficiently and you've bought them skills, you can "boost" them during battle for more PSI to get even stronger. As tempting as it might be to pour all your PSI into Slak and Wrenna (the best) and call it a day, you'll soon discover that there are a lot of different enemies with varied skills and weaknesses of their own, so carefully planning where you're going to plunk each hero and what they can do is a must. Don't worry; the in-game tutorial will walk you through everything, and if you mess up, you can simply restart the battle at any time, or quit and try an easier difficulty.
If enemies do reach your main character and manage to kill her, it isn't the end of the world. While you'll fail the level, you'll still keep a portion of the experience and "scrap" (used as currency) you earned and you can simply try again. Each stage has multiple levels of difficulty to choose from, letting you grind levels or test your mettle against more dangerous enemies for a bigger reward, or just enjoy the basic gameplay and story with a "casual" mode. Striding the line between being just strategic enough to offer up a satisfying challenge while not too complex so as to deter the more casual player, it really is the sort of game that can effortlessly suck you in for a long time.
Analysis: One of the best compliments I can give Defender's Quest is that I sat down to check it out for a few minutes and before I realised it, several hours have passed. Tower defense games are sort of a "love 'em or hate 'em" scenario, and even fans of the genre tend to be relentlessly picky. It's rare for one to stumble on that magic formula where it can keep you engaged for hours on end, striving for that perfect rating on each stage, and with its blend of unique classes, upgrades, and battles that are as fast, slow, easy, or hard as you want 'em, Defender's Quest has done just that.
There are a few minor annoyances, such as being unable to swap a hero's position in battle without de-summoning them and losing all their boosties. You can say this forces you to think more strategically, and that's true, but at the same time realising three-quarters of the way through a long level that you're boned and you don't have the PSI to reverse the damage in time will probably make you grind your teeth a little. There's also rather a lot of clicking, though the multiple speed settings are handy for letting you slow down and take stock of a situation so you can figure out how badly you've screwed it up. Not that, um. That ever happened to me.
While the lack of interaction in the story scenes is a little disappointing, Defender's Quest makes up for it by packing its cast full of memorable characters and snappy dialogue. The artwork is colourful, the characters expressive, and even the in-battle graphics have a pleasing sort of "all these colourful lights and explosions all at once" thing going for them. The actual storyline is interesting, though probably a little predictable for most players, and tends to get outshone by the party quips, one-liners, and banter. It's just a shame there isn't more of it; the game can be so unexpectedly funny I found myself wishing in-battle chatter wasn't so scarce.
Defender's Quest is, hands down, one of the best tower defense titles you'll find, but it's also simply just a clever, funny, engaging game period. While it's more RPG-lite in a way that might disappoint purists of the term, those elements serve to elevate Defender's Quest head and shoulders above other games in the genre. As for gameplay length, since that's undoubtedly something you're curious about, that comes more down to play style and your chosen difficulty than anything else. Personally, I sunk another two hours on top of the seven I had into this game while I was supposed to be writing this review. You can only expect that number to go up, since the game has multiple updates coming that add more story scenes, more battle modes, bonus missions, end game content, and more. Colourful, entertaining, addictive, and challenging, Defender's Quest is simply a fantastic game that is well worth a look. Me? I loved it. (Slak + Wrenna 4 EVA.) Highly recommended.
Play Defender's Quest (Flash demo)
Get the full version
Mac OS X:
Get the full version
Get the full version
Level Up Labs has given us 5 free copies to give away to the JIG community.
Just play the Flash demo and post here what you enjoyed about the game, or any hints, tips and/or strategies for getting the most out of it.
Be sure to comment using your Casual Gameplay account to be eligible for the giveaway.
We'll pick winners at random.
Hey, this is Lars, one of the developers!
One thing that could help with the "clickiness" - the entire game is tab-navigatable, so you can use tab and tilde to jump between clickable elements, and use ENTER to simulate a mouse click.
Check out options->controls for hotkeys, too which can help reduce mouse strain :)
Loving this new puzzlequestesque tower defense / RPG hybrid. The gameplay has an arcade rhythm but it also quite deep while the story and the characters are really funny. Slak always make me laugh.
The demo lets you play 2 of the 7 chapters of the full game (and that is quite cheap, 6 bucks).
I've liked it a lot and probably I'll buy it =)
Wow, this is cool.
The story seems good so far, and the characters are funny. Graphics are decent, too, somewhat retro.
This is a great twist on the adventure RPG. The story is making me giggle! My only problem has been the lagginess of the cursor, especially the farther I've advanced. I'm sure the downloadable version won't have that problem.
I am always looking for that next game that is going to grab and hold my attention, that has great replay value, and that has both some level-up grinding as well as a definite goal. I like that there is an overall goal, as well as goals within the chapters as well. VERY well done!
Bought it - currently downloading. Can't wait to play the whole thing! :)
In the options menu, under video, you can turn on "default" mouse cursor, in both the browser demo and the download demo/full version, which should be less laggy :)
It's weird to see such an original TD game.
The art is really well done, and the banter between characters looked pretty clever.
I could see this doing really well on IOS and Steam.
YES!! Let us know the SECOND you port to iOS, because I will play this one on my iPod any day. (and thanks for the tip....I'll try that)
Played through the demo and immediately bought it. Forgot to use the JIG coupon, but I don't care, I just can't wait to keep playing!
Man, as much as I'd love to wait to maybe win one of the copies, I just had to give in and buy it tonight! Great job--5 stars. Best game I've played in ages.
I really loved the demo. The story and presentation are great and I enjoyed the gameplay too.
When we will know if we win or not :p ?
[We'll hand out the free games soon. I want to give others in different time zones a chance. :) -Jay]
I gotta say, the story is really what makes this game great. I'm not usually a fan of tower defense games, but this one...well, I meant to try a level and go to bed two hours ago. The game is just hard enough to keep you interested without being too hard (that's what happened with Kingdom Rush for me). I'm going to bed before I break down and buy it...gotta wait til payday...gotta wait til payday...
I've played many tower defense games and this is an interesting spin on the basic gameplay. Once I had named my characters, they stopped being disposable units. It's almost like Intelligent system had made a TD game and layered on all their usual RPG trappings. This is finest compliment I can give any game. The demo took me quite a chunk of time to complete. It unveiled a very deep skill tree and host of weapons/armour options.
Tip. Level up your archers as soon as possible and make sure you give them some armour. Even the cheap sack cloth helps against the ranged foes.
Well worth a look for all strategy fans.
I'm generally skeptical these days of any new tower defense games -- I assume their proliferation has a bit to do with their ease of development -- but Defender Quest's blend of RPG elements makes this a compelling play. And the fact that the "towers" are companion characters and not merely reproducible buildable objects goes a long way toward making this game stand out as an experience. (At the moment, I've only played through the first few levels of the demo, but I hope to carve out time to come back for more.)
Plus, the main character is a librarian!
I love the concept of towers being named heroes.
Also like the world map system with the multiple settings per battle.
I hope the challenge ramps up in the next few chapters though. I love me some hard retro games.
This takes me back to classic RPGs like Realmz - not being keen on pure tower defence games, this has enough story, upgrades and trading to definitely keep me interested. It's a bit RAM hungry in Chrome, but keeping everything else to a minimum seems to help - and I'm not doing much else while playing this!
This reminds me a bit of the Protector series, particularly Little Protectors. It does a pretty good job of integrating the rpg-style character progression with the tower defense mechanics, and it certainly has one of the best / well-written stories I've seen in a TD. The ability to earn unique equipment by doing extra challenges is a nice feature.
The demo was really enjoyable and I like how the game is a tower defense/RPG fusion. That seems to be becoming more common but Defender's Quest does it really well.
The speed up and slow down buttons are also really nice, I like the range of choices. Wish Gemcraft has the same system!
Lars, one thing I'm noticing on the download version is that every once in a while, an unequipped item fails to show up in the store when you try to sell it, even tho you can still see it in the party menu. The first time it happened, it was a specialty item I had won in an early Extreme battle, so I thought it was because it was a relic, but the second time it was a bow I had bought earlier and which was still in the list of purchasable items. I'm playing on a Mac running Lion.
BTW--anyone have any suggestions for beating the Extreme battle just south of the Monastery? It's like 3 waves of bosses--even with two dragons, I can't seem to beat it! And I've beaten several Extreme battles beyond this point...just wondering why this particular one is so hard.
I can't watch while the Snake Men slither across the screen. This is helpful in my job since I can time those levels with those moments when my boss is walking by.
Seriously: those Snake Men are the WORST!
It's supposed to only be unique items that are un-sellable, because in the coming expansion we're doing something that makes it worth collecting them all. I'll look into it and see if there's a bug for non-sellable generics.
We just sent out codes to unlock the full version of Defender's Quest to the following winners:
Thanks to everyone for your continued support of what we do here at JIG! We just couldn't do it without you. :)
Was so excited to buy it I forgot to even use the coupon you guys so kindly provided!
It's cool, the designers could use the extra buck I'm sure!
Thank you so much! I know what I'm doing tonight!
Funny i did the opposite as soon as i saw the coupon i knew i had to buy it, even though the last thing i need a another game hah oh well its a late christmas present.it reminds me of the fun i had when i first played disgaea.
Bought it! Totally awesome game, Thumbs way up to the devs!
Oh. My. God. To those of you who bought the full version:
You know the sheep level?
DON'T BOTHER with the extreme option... possibly ever, or at least not until you have a full roster of fighters with the best weapons. You will NOT gain experience points from failing this level, so it's basically a big frustrating waste of time unless you're prepared for it.
Oh yes. Yes, the sheep level. I thought I could take it. I WAS WRONG.
Man, I don't even like tower defense games, generally speaking. But this is just too much fun.
I love the combination of RPG and TD its fantastic.
Actually quite impressed. That was an addictive little game. I'm seriously considering buying it. It seems like it would eventually become tedious grinding for equipment and levels, or too easy from being over-equipped or -leveled, but up to the end of the demo it remained doable yet challenging. The rewards for the challenge modes seem like they would lead to epic unique items, which I'd look forward to.
Plus, the characters are kinda fun despite their goofiness.
Good job, and hopefully I'll get the chance to see if the balance lasts until the end of the game!
it is good ok ? really fun td game
Bought the game and find it very impressing. Only thing that I find annoying are the "dark" creatures. Seems to be impossible to get a "perfect" rating on challenge modes advanced or extreme.
How are you suppose to deal with those armored skeletons? I can't even dent them.
I've only encountered one set of Dark creatures so far, but I found that using several Healers with Ether Flash and Holy Light made them a lot easier to hit.
Here's what worked for me: Before you get units capable of piercing/breaking armor, use a few highly boosted units (berserkers are good) instead of a lot of weaker ones. They will be able to get through the armor. When you do get the armor-busting units, level up Armor Break a lot and put them near the spawn points with the "attack strong enemies" setting. They will destroy the armor, leaving the enemies vulnerable to your other units.
So, for anyone with the full game, how do you
Kill the 'blood mad revenant' guy on the level with the red hand? The hand was no problem, but even though I have tons of armour breaking units, they don't seem to touch the cultist guy.
I even tried spamming priests in case he counted as Dark.
Nevermind, power of posting.
Only 4 levels left which I did not complete "perfect" on the highest difficulty level, but these are really challenges. Can I have a clue how to beat the "mega sheep" with 10 mio. hit points?
Hope there will be more levels soon!
A few of my tips so far (in act 4 currently):
1) Several of the skills have exponential effects like the Frenzy in that the Effect AND duration increase with levels, such that the final buffed skill is WAY stronger than the original. Take advantage!
1.1) I highly recommend putting all your Librarian points into the Frenzy skill that makes you attack faster. 9 points in it turns a 30% AS for 6 seconds(or so) skill into a killer 66% AS for 15 seconds. For the same Psi cost, you have increased the power of this spell by six times over!
When your guys are starting to fall behind a bit, for 35 Psi this gives a huuge increase in everyone's damage. Calculate how much damage ALL your dudes do in 15 seconds... take 66% of that. I guarantee its a HECK of a lot more than your Lightning Bolt or Crystal!
1.2) The same applies to several Damage multiplier effects. Bleed makes a monster take extra damage for a certain duration. You can go from 2% chance for 5 sec to like 11% chance for 14 seconds which hugely increases everyone's DPS vs that foe.
Poison is similarly strong and is not reduced by armor.
2) Buffing the basic attack is almost always better than buffing an advanced attack. This is simply because the basic attack happens so much more often.
A berserker attacks every 0.3 seconds whereas his advanced attack hits like 3 dudes every 2.1 seconds.
I'd rather have +3ish damage hit 7 times, than gain +4 to my advanced attack even vs 3 dudes, that happens 1/7th as often.
PLUS you don't have to be upgraded to use your basic attacks. All attacks include weaponry and boosts, so the fact that the advanced attack does 10 more damage than your basic is eclipsed. (i.e. 100 adv vs 90 is much less of a thing than 30 vs 20)
3) Make sure to get enough dudes and don't get too caught up on winning the advanced/expert modes. If you have trouble, push forward to get to better weapons/armor and more dudes/spells.
Definitely one of the best tower defense games out there. Like everyone else, I love the characters' attitudes and banter, and the gradual unveiling of plot and history between the characters. The way that locations on the map are affected by plot events is great as well. I'll definitely be getting the full thing.
I was about to say I wished the full thing existed in flash rather than as a downloadable game. But I see there is a full game option on Kongregate, so maybe I should check that out.
Lovely game. I really enjoyed the demo.
This game is pretty good, from what I've seen. Also, I sort of suck at it.
I don't normally enjoy tower defense games, but this ones story really stands out from what I can tell from playing the demo, and the gameplay isn't as grating as some other titles.
"Call your mom" indeed !
Not a genre I normally enjoy but I loved this demo with its wacky humour so thanks for the Friday link.
The game got hard pretty quickly.
Archers having a min range is super annoying, and pretty crippling.
Brilliant game... love how far Lars (and the rest of the team) have come from Super Energy Apocalypse which was a JIG competition entry years ago... I was a beta tester for that too... proud!
I really enjoyed it! Right from the start has started to enjoy everything that I featured the game (characters, upgrades, etc.)
I've actually tried to buy this game a few times, but my card keeps getting declined. It's really fun. I love leveling up my units and customizing their abilities. The fact that I can have the same kind of unit with different specializations that don't reset between battles is brilliant.
My favorite games ever have all been character driven, where they become more powerful the more you use them. Shining Force, Valkyria Chronicles, this game, they all have units that grow in power and depth as you go through the game.
I just wish that the site would shut up with the error messages and take my money.
Ahhh, I remember this game from it's initial coverage here at JIG. I have to say it's just as fun now as it was then. And, for a chance for a free copy of the full version?? I'll definitely say how much I loved AND love it. ;)
I think this game is pretty cool, and I don't usually like TD games. I like the persistence between battles that the skills and equipment provide.
I really liked the game! O:
I enjoyed the persistent upgrades, and I especially liked the ability to pick unit colors.
I've always been a sucker for customization. The art style for the game is nice, and Slak is pretty much my favorite. He's a nut. A really good nut.
I like this game quite a bit, and following the storyline does add another wrinkle to the standard TD fare. That said, no one would classify this game as an RPG really (unless Super PSTW Action RPG was also an RPG, which I reley dont wan to say), and as a standalone TD game it would be middle of the pack. I doubt I would sit through a video of all the cutaway scenes, and if it were just the TD game, I would play Bloons or Gemcraft first, but because both are done well and the humor works, I may buy the game. Of course, I'd prefer to win a free copy. :)
I usually don't like Tower Defense games, but this...I think my favorite thing about it is the characters. They're quite diverse in personality and the storytelling went at a smooth pace. I liked it a lot.
Just plain good fun. The sense of humor helps make it. The gameplay is balanced so far, but I haven't reached high level yet.
I want to see the end.
GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!
heh heh...ok, why is no one talking about how good the upgrade is? My day has been decimated, thanks to this!
So normally I never play games you have to buy, or even the demos of games.
But. I just had to play this game the moment i saw the art.
And now I've finished the demo and somehow i will convince my mom that buying a game online will not destroy my computer or anything.