When four heroes ride away into the distant horizon on an adventure to save the kingdom, what are their children to do? Well a young wizard, knight, Elf who shoots arrows, and a clerical type play at being heroes.
Etheria is suddenly plunged into danger by the kids antics and now itís up too the kids to sort their own mess out before all kinds of trouble comes banging at the kingdomís walls!
To do this the kids tap the power of a large crystal which is housed in the depths of the earth. This provides the energy or mana needed to build barricades, lay down traps to fend off the attacking beasts and Dark Elf style archers as well as the occasional Ogre or two!
Will they succeed? Thatís down to you!
This is a tower defense game, a format of game I donít usually play to be honest. I approached it with an open mind and soon got into the swing of things and adapted to what was for me, a new format of game.
The game comes in four levels of difficulty, represented by the four character classes.
The Wizard is allegedly the easiest, with the knight being the next one up, the elf the harder mode and the priest being the hardest. Each come equipped with their own sets of tools and abilities to deal with the enemies that will soon be swarming towards you.
The Wizard builds spell towers, ranging from D&D style Magic Missiles to fireballs and the like. He can deal ranged damage with a staff/wand that fires energy projectiles a fair distance and deal moderate damage. The Knight comes equipped with a sword and is a melee specialist but can build spiked barriers and a nice spinning obstacle called the pusher to name but two. The Archer obviously can fire at enemies from afar with a handy repeating crossbow, and she can lay down mines. These can explode or release gas to name but two tools at her disposal. The Priest comes armed with a mace and lays down auras. These auras can slow creatures down or deal electrical damage.
Each barricade will take damage as the enemies encounter them, and if you have the mana and the time to spare, you can repair them in combat, or as I soon discovered, itís best to do that at the start of the next level. it also pays to explore the area between each attack. Chests can be opened to provide better weapons, better armour and gems to fuel the mana or supply gold so items can be bought from the tavern.
The Tavern is where surplus items can be sold on and items that you have not had time to equip can be equipped. You can also buy pets that aid you, but be warned these little beasties are expensive! Mana can also be banked here and the banked mana can buy skills that can supplement your arsenal, these again are not cheap to buy. What these can do Iíll leave it to you to discover.
Now the fun starts when you realize that if you create a new player (in other words notch up the difficulty) you can add the new characters barriers and defenses to ones already in place, this means for instance the Knights barricades can be beaten down only to have your foes walk right into a set of the archers bombs and indeed the clericís auras.
The enemies job is to break the crystal, your job, stop them from doing so. Sounds simple doesnít it? Well itís not. As creatures die and drop mana youíll have to be quick accessing menus to lay down new traps as well as heal yourself if needs be, or collect dropped loot.
The menu is accessed through the R1 button and it will tell you where you can place the item to be built. If the icon stays red, then you cannot build there, relocate with the left stick until it goes green and place it. Bear in mind the area it affects as well. You can however increase the range and strength of these items so collect those crystals and gems and upgrade them as and when you can. You can also repair them as well.
Healing and repairing items in combat is a tricky affair. But as you level up you can speed up building and casting times, increase your health etc. Also the items you have can be upgraded, and this is handled automatically by the a.i. so thatís one less thing you have to worry about thankfully.
Back to healing and repair, to do this in combat leaves you very vulnerable to attack. So speed yourself up as soon as is possible. The quicker the better. One thing to bear in mind is the mage actually has a power that can push enemies away. If they have taken enough damage, this can kill some enemies. He seems to be the only one who can do this.
You can swap characters after leaving traps through the hero forge. But this vanishes as the battle starts so itís not accessible in combat. Mind you using it would leave you exposed to attack so thatís a good thing.
Remember that itís you and you alone that is defending that crystal and that is a formidable task. It has an online mode where two players go head to head in a PVP mode.
The one who kills all the enemies that fastest wins. One hero cannot attack another, so just concentrate on eliminating foes and protecting that home crystal.
The screen will soon become full of enemies and youíll be to busy juggling skills and what not to worry about even trying to attack your opponent! The breakdown comes next.GRAPHICS:
Bright and colorful and you may soon think Oh heck, another kiddie friendly game. To me this is not an issue. Sure they are bright and breezy as it were, but they do not detract you from the frantic action in any way at all. Frame rate is smooth, with no lag and no pop up or drop out, on the whole a decent job. Lighting effects are more than adequate, flames flicker nicely etc etc.SOUND/MUSIC:
Spells, arrows and the like fly with appropriate zings and zaps. Swords and maces hit with meaty whacks and all sounds as it should. The music is calm and soothing but as it gets nearer the time when the doors open and the beasts are released it attempts to deliver some suspense and tension but doesnít quite manage that. So the music is a little bit of a let down at least for me.PHYSICS:
Things react to being hit nicely and all things considered for a budget game there are no disappointments in this area. Despite being powered by the Unreal engine, there are no rag doll effects here, and of there were you are to busy to notice!VOICE TALENT:
This is all done by voice over, no lip synching and the performances are adequate for the title. Itís not a major factor in the game.PROís:
Itís easy enough to get to grips with and the tutorial will soon help you get used to the player interface. The challenge levels wrack up nicely, and you will need to think a little between levels as to where to place the next set of obstacles etc. This exercises the little grey cells as it were very nicely. PVP mode is good fun and will keep you amused.CONíS:
It looks kiddie friendly but it will become apparent that youngsters are going to struggle to manage this one. When the screen becomes full it becomes full. Itís not that easy to heal in the middle of frantic combat and the swarm numbers increase at an alarming rate. Even experienced gamers may wish there were not so many balls to try and juggle all at once. The learning curve isnít too steep, but the sense of being overwhelmed by enemies alas does not match that curve. I enjoyed it yes, but there were times when I had to grit my teeth and try not to swear too loudly. Oh and why no two player Co-op?
SUMMARY: Fun? Yes. Easy? At the start yes, but it becomes harder very quickly so be warned. Engaging? Yes but it does become a bit of a grind to be honest and although most game have a repetitive nature, this one becomes a little TOO repetitive for extended play I feel.
On the whole though itís an enjoyable enough affair and like Mind Benders is a nice break from the norm and is worth a look. Itís also relatively cheap, just £7.99 on the Playstation Network so it wonít break the bank. This is going to be like Marmite, youíll either love it or dislike it.