If you’ve ever wanted the chance to fire Ash’s boomstick, now’s you chance. Based on the film, Army of Darkness Defense is a loving nod to fans of the cult classic, complete with plenty of in-jokes and one-liners. While this makes for a fun trip down memory lane for some of us, the actual game doesn’t quite live up to the source material.
Army of Darkness Defense is a side-scrolling tower defense game. Bad guys come from a tunnel on the right, and you need to defend your castle (which houses the dangerous book of the dead) on the left. You play as series hero Ash, complete with his infamous shotgun and, after a few upgrades, chainsaw hand. Ash attacks automatically, but you can also perform special attacks that recharge after a time, including a super powerful gun blast and summoning an evil book that sucks up any nearby monsters.
You just got boomstuck.
But Ash can’t do it by himself. You’ll also have a blacksmith, named Smithy, who will constantly produce bars of iron. And these are what you’ll use to create units to help defend the castle. Weaker units, like pitchfork-wielding farmers, cost less, while more powerful ones like am armor-clad knight will require quite a few bars to summon. Enemies will also drop iron, along with money, that Ash can collect by touching.
As you make your way through wave after wave of undead enemies, you’ll unlock new units and abilities, as well as defenses for your castle like archers. Virtually everything in the game can also be upgraded by spending some cash, which becomes an important strategy. Eventually you’ll have more units and abilities than you can actually equip, which results in a Plants Vs Zombies-style selection screen where you’re forced to choose who to use in battle and who to discard.
The main problem with the game, though, is that there’s no real sense of progression. You play through the same stage over and over, only with new units and harder enemies. But it doesn’t really feel like you’re doing it for any real reason. You simply beat a wave to earn some money so you can upgrade for the next wave. Rinse and repeat.
He only felt calm on the battlefield.
This also means that there’s quite a bit of repetition, both in terms of gameplay and presentation. While the 2.5D visuals are goofy and charming, fighting in the same stage over and over again eventually becomes tiresome. Same goes for the sound effects. Ash and his loyal army will frequently spout off familiar one-liners from the movie, which are funny at first, but grow dull after the dozenth or so time you hear them. There’s simply not enough variety in either the visuals or sound.
The controls can also be a bit annoying at times, as it’s very easy to accidentally purchase a unit when you’re actually just trying to move Ash around. And because of the way the screen is laid out you almost always end up accidentally summoning the lowest level soldier.
With its dark setting and great sense of humor, Army of Darkness seems like the perfect candidate for a tower defense game. Unfortunately, Army of Darkness Defense amounts to little more than a much too simple game with a familiar coat of paint. And when the appeal of that coating wears off, you’re left with a game with little lasting appeal.