There’s quite a large number of mobile game ports on Switch; though not inherently a bad thing, especially when you consider the option to use the Switch on the move – therefore, games already being designed to be played in quick bursts with a touchscreen should be a perfect fit – there are far too many that were already lazy cash grabs, being stripped of things like ads and in-app purchases, but without any rejigging of the in-game economies to compensate for the lack of bonuses.
Evil Defenders, though a port of a mobile game, was already a much more polished and content-heavy experience than many other ports I’ve seen. It’s a tower defence game, with the twist being that, instead of being cast as the good guys, you’re instead tasked with defending the forces of evil from the humans – who would normally be the good guys in this sort of game.
It’s a nice idea, but in practice the only sense that you’re evil comes from the character design and some of the powers – with your creatures and super powers often looking monstrous or demonic. The story sees humans decide to rid the world of the ‘evil’, but from these cut scenes the humans don’t seem particularly heroic and in fact, with them choosing to invade your territory, just come off as the bad guys in the situation anyway.
The production values are high throughout, with brilliant art and a superb soundtrack, part of which is a fully-vocal song when the game begins. There’s a wealth of content here, with a large variety of towers, upgrades and powers; customising your character and each individual tower type offers a huge amount of options to customise the game to your own playstyle too.
There are some really neat touches; I always find myself restarting a level in a tower defence game if even one enemy gets through my carefully laid defences, but in Evil Defenders a complete restart isn’t necessary – you can pay in-game currency, earned from destroying humans, to skip back as many (or as few) waves as you want in order to try stopping the pesky interlopers again. It works brilliantly.
Though there’s eventually a large number of towers to choose from, the options never feel overwhelming as information on each tower’s capabilities is always displayed clearly when needed. The symbols for powers – that you can use directly on the battlefield when charged, rather than at fixed tower points – could perhaps do with this clarity, as I was often forgetting which power did what in the heat of the moment, at least in some cases. My favourite of these powers has been the Hellboy-esque demon, who stomps around the path, slaying any humans he comes across. In addition to the Hellboy tribute, there are little nods to other franchises too; one of the human types looks as if he belongs to the Assassin’s Creed universe, for example.
Each level can be attempted at a different difficulty level; I’ve found it’s best to come back to some of the tougher ones once you’re a lot more equipped to deal with them, upgrade-wise. Some can get extremely challenging; in fact, even some of the easiest difficulty levels are a really tough challenge at the beginning of the game, when you don’t have much in the way of upgrades to your towers. Though the challenge can sometimes feel overwhelming, thankfully Evil Defenders still proves to be a very appealing and well produced tower defence game.
I’ve been consistently impressed with the art design and feeling of high production values throughout Evil Defenders. It’s a real breath of fresh air, especially when I was dreading another lazy mobile port. It helps that the mobile game was already pretty polished and far from a lazy, one-note cash grab like some other games I’ve recently taken a look at; some of the scenery itself is gorgeus, with a beautifully cascading waterfall forming part of the level in one of the early stages – it’s definitely a surprise for a tower defence game to have so much care and attention paid to its visuals; I think we’ve come to expect little more than functional graphics when we play a tower defence game, so Evil Defenders really does raise the bar in that respect.
The only aspect of the art design I find offputting is the lack of noses on the characters; it’s something I still haven’t become used to! They’re very odd looking, to say the least.
Still, that doesn’t detract from what is, overall, a very polished and satisfying experience. The only caveat I’d offer prior to recommending Evil Defenders is that it’s very challenging from the get-go (perhaps due to its origins – no doubt the in-app purchases available in the mobile version do ease the challenge somewhat); however, persevere and you’ll find a wealth of content with fantastic audio and visuals for a game of this type. Though the twist of being on the side of evil isn’t one that’s really capitalised on to any great extent, it’s still an excellent game and one I’ve been pleasantly surprised by.
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The review key was kindly provided by the publisher. Thank you!