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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Defender's Quest Raises the Bar for Indie Dev's

Have you ever played a game and thought, "This game is fun, but I wish they would change this and this and that -- then this game would be awesome!" Or more specifically, when you played Square Enix's Crystal Defenders, did you love it, but think it needed a little more depth (maybe a little more RPG-lite depth)?

Well Lars Doucet and team have your back. Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten is a delightful mix of tower defense and RPG. As noted above, the TD side of the game mimics Crystal Defenders in many ways, and the added RPG elements round the game off with just enough inventory management and skill point assignment to strike that perfect balance we call "classic."

The game sprawls over a fair-sized world map, with a story that is quite typical of most RPG's. That being said, for a $6-10 indie title, the graphical assets that make up the world and battle maps are a fun throwback to the 16-24-bit era, and the sexy-smooth comic-book-style panels used for story sequences are an asset, not a liability. The story and music mesh well, and give the game a solid, polished feel that goes a step beyond what most indie studios produce. Although the story may not be particularly original, the setting is interesting, and the rather impressive soundtrack really strikes the appropriate mood.



The world map consists of nodes that represent either battles or towns, the latter of which can be visited to buy/sell gear or recruit new troops. Nothing special here, but a long overdue addition to the tower defense genre. Battles pan out in the traditional TD fashion, with waves of mobs winding through mazes on their way to your main character, who can summon recruits to act as "towers" to defend her, or cast spells on her own (both actions coming from the same pool of Psi points, which you attain from killing mobs). Recruits (and your main character) gain XP, rise levels, equip gear, and possess skill trees that can be customized to your liking.



Each unit you recruit to your party costs more scrap (Defender's Quest's currency) than the last, so you will eventually have a unique party make-up based on financial limitations. I found this to be a very smart way of letting players customize their parties. Rather than setting arbitrary limits on party size, you decide for yourself how you'd like to approach combat.


Defender's Quest can be purchased here for about $7. It runs on PC, Mac, and Linux. Flash versions can be found on various websites, but come on, who wants to sit through adverts while playing a game? And besides, indie dev's like Lars Doucet are the future. They're the ones struggling the most to impress us, provide affordable games, and diversify the industry. Plus, smaller budgets usually mean retro graphics, which is a huge bonus to gamers like myself ;-)

Info on the latest patch, 0.8.6, can be found here.

Bravo, Lars! Let's see what you make next...

Play the Defender's Quest Demo for free!

Written by Andy Thayer

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