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iPhone  header logo

Defenders & Dragons


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Also some dungeons, I think

Product: Defenders & Dragons | Publisher: Glu Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Multiplayer, Strategy | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
 
Defenders & Dragons iPhone, thumbnail 1
I'm not really sure what to expect from Defenders & Dragons. On the one hand it's a Glu game, and Glu games of late haven't been fantastic. The thought of plodding through another soulless video game misfire fills me with dread.

But on the other hand, this looks different from the recent releases I've been reviewing. It appears to be a side-scrolling platformer or brawler, but then the App Store screens describe building an army, protecting gates, and challenging other players.

That sounds an awful lot like a MOBA to me.

I'm intrigued, and I can't wait to see what's in store.

First impressions

Defenders & Dragons is slowly revealing its bag of tricks, and from what I can tell thus far it's a 2D, slightly simplified, multiplayer online battle arena.

You start at one end of a level, and goons make their way towards you. You fight them off automatically, using either ranged or close combat weapons depending on how close you are to your opponent.

When you've lost too much health you retreat until you regenerate more hit points, at which point you dive back into the fray to push back against the menace and ensure they don't get too close to your Gate. If they destroy that, you fail the mission.

The combat is basic, but there are special attacks to help add clout to your assault, and knowing when to make a hasty getaway is a skill in itself.

It runs smoothly on my iPhone 5C, the characters and creeps are adorable and - most importantly - easily distinguishable when mixed up in a group, and the minimal controls make for straightforward and immediate gameplay experience.

So far, so good.

Day 3: Push and pull

Defenders & Dragons is getting better and better the longer I play it, and it was pretty enjoyable to begin with.

I've realised that I can generate my own soldiers to take into battles with me - an aspect of the game that wasn't made clear at first - and this has added more complexity to these armed engagements.

IAPs explained
You use Coins to upgrade most elements of your character. Coins cost £2.99 / $4.99 for 5000. That's not too bad, and will net you a fair few improvements.

You can use Gems for a limited number of upgrades and can spend them on revivals. They cost £2.99 / $4.99 for 100. You get Coins for free by playing missions and multiplayer, and Gems are also available for free through the usual partner offer stuff.

There's one premium character available for purchase, too, called the Archangel, at an obscene price that isn't worth repeating here.
You build up points to bring allies into battle automatically, and can boost how quickly these are generated over time. You then have to think about whether you want to add lots of cheap soldiers to your forces or save up points for a unit that does significantly more damage.

If I'm playing as the elven archer I like to make a few very strong melee units, which I back up with my upgraded bow skills from afar. If I'm playing as the human knight, I'll spend a few more points on archers and jump into the conflict myself.

It's not a mindless slog, as I feared it might become, and each encounter in this brutal tug of war can have a little tactical thinking (and some soft currency) applied to it to make victory easier.

At one point over the last couple of days I was regularly losing one battle because I let some small but fast enemies creep past me. They went on to destroy my base. As my warrior is slow-moving, I decided to upgrade my HQ with archers so that they would pick off these tiny but troublesome foes.

Thus far, every problem has had a solution, and finding them has been very satisfying indeed.

As you progress you're awarded money and Souls for your Soul Jar. These Souls are used to enter the multiplayer and collect artefacts, and apparently the artefacts confer bonuses, but even though I've played a few encounters with other human players I'm yet to collect a full set of them.

I can't wait to jump back into this area of the game to see what improvements they'll give to my team.

Day 7: Getting tougher

The game has become really challenging, but I'm mostly okay with that.

Having unlocked the Daily Challenges, I've started attempting them when I fire the game up, and they're a great way of keeping you thinking about strategy and how you can improve your skills.

The latest one had me facing off against some slow-moving but heavy hitting trolls while playing as the Knight.

The problem is obvious: how do you defeat two enemies that are much more powerful than you, when both you and your opponent's speciality is walking forwards and engaging in melee combat?

You're given access to skills you might not yet have unlocked, and forced to choose certain elements of your army over others, and this makes the game very much a tactical puzzle.

These Daily Challenges give you glimpses of enemies that lie ahead in the single-player, and sneak peeks of the powers you might wield later in multiplayer too.

Powers fundamentally change the way you approach the game. When you have access to your mount as the Knight, for example, you can move much faster, which gives you the option to dash into combat for a few strikes and then dash away again as the baddies are about to strike.

If there's a stumbling block to be found, it's that you can't go back and replay levels for more currency. It's not a major issue, as you do get Coins each time you lose a new level, but it would be nice to have the option.

Defenders & Dragons is a mini-MOBA, and though slightly more passive in its multiplayer it's no less thrilling for it. Most importantly, there's depth here, and working out ways of defeating your opponents and dealing with new situations will keep you entertained for weeks.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
 
Defenders & Dragons
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 31 January 2014
Be prepared for a tough but rewarding challenge with Defenders & Dragons, one that emerges from a deceptively simple tug of war setup
 
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