Tuesday, February 26

Review: Hell Warders [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Recently the Switch has seemed to have an influx of tower defense-style titles, but thankfully since there’s been some variety in them they haven’t felt very redundant. Going for a hack-and-slash meets tower defense style we now have Hell Warders. In it you’ll choose a class, each of which looks sort of like a Diablo second or third stringer, try to position some defenses, and then let the onslaught begin.

Only through a mix of some smart defensive planning, supplemented with your ability to move around the battlefield and fill in when necessary will you survive, and this is especially true if you try to go it solo. In the planning phase before each wave you’ll get to examine the entry points and flow of your enemies towards the orb you’re defending and then place a growing variety of units to help slow and destroy the attackers outright. You have both a monetary and unit hard limit to consider so you’ll need to carefully consider where and what you’re placing, often wanting or needing to focus your initial and most critical defenses near the end rather than risk getting caught by surprise as some enemies manage to trickle through your front-line defenses.

Once you allow the current wave to proceed the game will throw hordes of enemies at you and you’ll get to see how well you planned. No matter how well you’ve done there’ll inevitably be some surges that will overcome your units, meaning you’ll have to get involved. Depending on whether you go with melee or a ranged character will somewhat alter your tactics but in general you have a base attack and then some special attacks on a cooldown. Being smart and trying to focus your efforts on taking out enemies at bottlenecks tends to take the direct pressure off of you more and it may also save some of your units so you won’t need to expend currency to replace them.

There are a few issues really holding the game back though. The first is that the performance of the game on Switch is noticeably janky. Stutters and issues crop up with some regularity as enemies pour onto the screen, enough so that even as a person who doesn’t get too bent out of shape about a few hitches is taking the trouble to mention it. Paired with the lacking performance is pretty dull and highly repetitive action. Each class sort of has their own tactics that end up being the most effective and unfortunately once you get into a groove with them you’re unlikely to bother with trying anything else, you’ll just stick to what works and it gets boring. Then throw in the fact that solo play doesn’t feel very well balanced. This spreads you out a bit too much while having at least 2 people makes things considerably easier as you can address issues on multiple fronts then far more easily. Last, though this is a smaller complaint the game just sort of drops you into things without much direction so it takes some trial and error to understand how to position your troops in the first place.

Overall, Hell Warders is a title that has a great look and some Diablo-esque qualities but that just doesn’t feel quite finished. Repetition sets in pretty quickly and the combat is far more of a slog than it should be if they’re going to bother to allow you to be an active participant. Top that with the very noticeable performance issues and it’s hard to recommend with any energy against its competition in the eShop.

Score: 5.5

  • In principle its mix of tower defense and action seems appealing
  • Played with some friends the game is more balanced and fun

  • The game’s performance issues are impossible to miss
  • In terms of core gameplay there’s just not much to get excited about
  • When it comes to solo play the game doesn’t feel very well balanced