Tower defense style games have evolved just like the technology in game systems. They started from simple maze paths where enemies traveled along to attack an objective you’re supposed to defend with towers or units along the way. Now games have come along like FORTIFIED and X-MORPH that change up the gameplay style slightly with a character you can control freely around the map, place units and attack the enemy. Hell Warders is very similar to this style but even this game switches it up and adds more of a dynamic to the gameplay with several changes that make it a great tower defense, RPG-hybrid game.
Hell Warders story starts with a portal from hell that is opened and demons of hell are coming to kill the humans on earth. It’s the Hell Warders job to defend a central nexus that is providing you the resources to fight the demons back off. With five acts and about five chapters there is a ton of gameplay. Each chapter has about five waves. In the beginning of each wave you’re given about three minutes to build up your units before the waves come. Waves consist of hundreds of demons that range from small zombie like demons to huge tank style ones. Dragons, skeletons, you name it, there are a ton of hells creatures ripe for you or your defenses to kill. At the end of each chapter there is a boss round where you must not only fight off the waves of demons but a boss as well. You can deploy units all around the map and even position them in specific directions to help battle the enemies more effectively. You have an overall limit of how many units you can have but a cool feature is that some units cost more build points but all units only take up the same “space.” Some past tower defense games count bigger units as more than one where Hell Warders doesn’t.
Units vary in abilities from up close attackers (pike men) to ranged archers, wizards and catapults. All unit’s range in price and can be upgraded for more points or can be sacrificed to regain the points. Another big part of the game is collecting upgrade points based on how you do in that chapter, with a maximum of 5 points that can be awarded. These points can either upgrade your units or upgrade your hero. You can add to increase things like health, damage, attack range, cooldowns on special abilities, movement for your hero or you can upgrade your unit health, damage, or attack range. This really adds to the game play as in you can customize your towers and hero based on your play style. You can heavily add to your towers and hangout or you can beef up your hero and fight in the front of the waves. Another customizable part is adding artifacts which are special power ups that range from increased health to higher tower damage. You can have up to six hot keyed units and you can swap them out with the other ones depending on the enemies you face. There are three different hero types, I mainly played as Samson, the sort of tank character that has close range power attacks and drops a barrel bomb special. There is a knight that has a shield and some mid ranged attacks and another that has two double barreled shot guns for more ranged attacks. There is a lot of customizable options that you don’t see in traditional tower defense style games.
Hell Warders does a lot right with its changes in gameplay and player interaction editing the game for their playstyle but there are some bigger issues that are here. The game graphically looks like it’s from the PS2 era. There is no real interaction with blood hitting the screen or on the ground when you smash a demon with a hammer. They just kind of fall over and you can see their body laying there. The ranged attacks show a fire ball flying but it’s basically a glowing ball. No real cool animations or graphics that wowed me, especially being a game on the Xbox One it’s surprising how little there is to like visually. Cut scenes are the same way, lacking in the development style but the story overall has a good direction, but a little too corny for my taste. The physical movement of your character is very boxy. Sort of feels like you’re a 3D scroller. The left to right movements and jumping are blocky and not consistent or smooth feeling. Setting up units can be slightly annoying as it can be hard to position units in the specific spot you want. When upgrading you have get right near them and wait for the pop up menu to show if you want to upgrade or sell. Graphics and mechanics are tough to get right but there should be a standard when releasing on the current hardware.
Overall Hell Warders is a pretty fun game. A very creative look at the tower defense genre but also has the creative parts of an RPG. There is a multiplayer aspect that allows up to 4 players to battle against the demons but I unfortunately did not get a chance to give that a go through. If the graphics and game character mechanics were slightly better this game would be great, but not all can be smash hits. I wouldn’t send Hell Warders back to hell because it does have some decent game play and several levels giving you some substance as well.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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