Thursday, February 8

Review: Aegis Defenders [Nintendo Switch eShop]


One of the greatest things about the indie game movement is that it results in new experiments, combinations of game genres you’ve never seen before. Puzzle platforming is a well-know style dating back to classics like The Lost Vikings and Trine (and further if you’re old like me), demanding that people make smart use of multiple characters and their varied skills to help one another advance through the journey. In a very different space there’s the tower defense genre, requiring you to apply strategy and intelligent use of resources to keep advancing forces from making it through to whatever it is you’re charged to protect. Aegis Defenders is a title that has taken on the task of melding these two genres together, and it does so effectively by matching it with a reasonably good story including some entertaining characters and dialogue.


The first component of the game is the puzzle platforming, and I’d say this is probably the part of the game I enjoyed the most. While you only begin with two characters, as the game progresses you’ll eventually be managing four. Each member of your team has their own attack style, ability, and items they’re able to construct when they have the proper materials. In the platforming segments you’ll most commonly be using your attacks and abilities to fight a menagerie of beasts and activate switches, but there are also elements you’ll need to contend with like doorways only a specific character can go through. As you go you’ll want to be on the lookout for the 4 relics that are hidden on every level, the bonus you’ll be awarded as you complete each stage is typically worth your while on top of it satisfying the completionist in you.

The second element of every stage is the tower defense portion. While I did enjoy these phases and they were sometimes challenging I also found that since I was always sure to try to find everything, get all bonuses, and then make my upgrades to my equipment strategically as the game went on I typically was able to breeze through them. Nonetheless, dominating this portion of the level does take effective planning and as the levels wear on they try to consistently throw in elements to make you work for it. My recommendation wouldn’t be to spread your upgrades out and to instead focus on a few very specific elements you can exploit together to cover your bases since you only have so many resources you can build with anyway.


Aside from a few quibbles with the varying difficulty from stage to stage I can’t say that I have many criticisms. The amount of work invested in trying to make the characters and story feel relevant is evident but for the most part it is a bit boilerplate. That said, I did like some of the dialogue choices you’re presented with over the course of the game… but I found it unusual that you were given points for which response you chose. At the end of the day I’m not sure a few points here and there made much difference but by making the choice to give your responses values it does prompt a small question of why?

All things considered I found Aegis Defenders to be a refreshing combination of a genre I typically enjoy and one that I’m normally not a fan of. Putting them together, doing a fairly good job with both, and then blending them in a way that matches up with the story really makes the game unique and special. The highlight is absolutely some of the clever and inventive puzzle platforming sections that will make you fully exploit every ability your characters have to complete them. It all comes together to make for an engaging and entertaining title that works brilliantly on the Switch.



Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Some outstanding puzzle platforming sections
  • Choosing your own upgrades lets you define your style
  • There’s a fair amount of humor that keeps things fun
  • Works well as single-player, even more fun and effective with a friend!

Cons:
  • Until you get your third character, roughly half way through the game, it doesn’t fully hit its stride
  • Once you get on top of the tower defense elements you can generally dominate
  • Despite the investment in the story it is still pretty generic