When you think of Humble Bundle, you often think of the games they’re selling or giving away, but sometimes they publish their own titles, and one of them is a unique mix of Tower Defense, Puzzle, and Platforming mixed in a story of gods and men. This is Aegis Defenders.
Game Name: Aegis Defenders
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PS4, Mac
Publisher(s): GUTS Department
Developer(s): Humble Bundle
Release Date: Feb 8, 2018
The world of Aegis Defenders is actually a really interesting one. It’s set in a land where there were gods known as the Deathless, and they ruled over humanity for better or for worse. But then, things changed, and now the lands are full of destroyed societies and lost technology. You play as two characters who are trying to survive in this new world and find that things aren’t as simple as they once thought.
I won’t go into too many spoilers, but I will say that you play in the beginning as Bart and Clu, two scavengers who sell tech they find so they can eat. But, after finding a lost weapon known as the Aegis, things start to get a lot more interesting in their lives.
In a way, the game actually has two stories. The first is through interesting cutscenes that tell the story of the world, and then, there’s Bart and Clu’s story. They’re very different, and yet, it’s very obvious how they all tie together.
Of course, the main crux of Aegis Defenders is the gameplay, which can be as varied as the characters you play as. It starts out as a simple platformer with puzzle elements. Each character has different abilities that they’ll need to use in order to beat enemies, activate switches, etc. You’ll need to be mindful of your surroundings as well as your character abilities in order to advance.
Then, as you near the end of the level, you’ll find yourself in Tower Defense situations. These are true tests of preparation and adaptation. As monsters (called Berserkers, and more) will try and destroy the item you’re trying to protect/power-up/etc. It will challenge you, make no mistake. For like a good Tower Defense game, you need resources in order to build defense units. Each character has their own special weapons, like bombs, spike traps, turrets, floating torches, and more. You’ll need to use them wisely in order to stifle advancements.
But, if your defenses do get breached, there’s always the direct approach. Clu, Bart, and the other characters you receive (4 in total) each have primary and secondary weapons that they can use to beat enemies. Each one of them is assigned a color and can do certain damage to certain enemies. Use your offensive and defensive abilities well enough and you’ll go far. Fail, and…well…you’ll fail.
Which is another key aspect of Aegis Defenders, switching between characters. This is both a massive pro and a massive con for the game. On one hand, having to swap between characters to get things done is rather clever, especially in the puzzle and Tower Defense gameplay sections. However, this game was built to be played in co-op, so if you don’t have someone to play with (like me), prepare for a lot of frustration when the buttons and characters don’t do what you want.
For example, when you switch characters, you have to highlight them, then either select or move as them, which in and of itself can be hard. And because of the control scheme, it’s easy to mess up and press a wrong button and thus mess up what you were trying to do. And in battles, pressing the wrong button can be fatal, which will make you start over.
This applies most definitely with the Tower Defense sections, as the gameplay is very fast and very furious. You only have 60 seconds to get everything ready to go. While that’s plenty of time in the beginning of the game, as you advancement, it seems like you have barely any time at all.
Even the puzzle sections struggle at times because of this. For if you play alone, you have to remember ALL the characters abilities, and I had to look up help because I forgot a rather simple one.
Thankfully, between the levels, you’re able to go to a campsite area and level up your weapons, defensive abilities, health, etc. Making collecting money and points (via conversations) all the more important.
Now, while the formula for the game is very wash, rinse, repeat, the level design is actually very good. Sometimes you’ll be dropped right into the Tower Defense sections, while other times you’ll have large, intricate puzzles you’ll need to solve. There are even hidden areas and bosses where you can collect special rewards or more cash. It’s all very lovely and gives you plenty of variety.
That goes double for enemies. The further you go into the game, the more enemies you’ll face and have to be prepared for. Just like the characters, they all have color-coated strengths and weaknesses, as well as movement patterns, attacks, and more. Yes, this does mean you have to memorize more, but, it also adds to the thrill when you know there are more enemies to fight.
I also want to give a shoutout to the characters in the game, Bart, Clu, Kobo, Kalim, Zula, and more all have unique personalities, and it helps you connect with them in a very special way. Especially as things start escalating. Yes, some of it is telegraphed heavily, but it makes up for it more times than naught.
In the end, Aegis Defenders is a very solid gameplay experience set in a deep world. I would recommend though that if you play it, you play it with friends, less hassle and stress that way.
Review Disclosure Statement: This copy of Aegis was given to us for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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One part co-op adventure (that you can play by yourself), one part puzzle-solving journey, and many parts Tower Defense game, Aegis Defenders balances a lot of things, and it gets most of it right.