Keep Defenders is designed as a game that melds the similar, yet fundamentally disparate genres of tower defense and real-time-strategy. Similar to a TD game, waves of enemies crash into your forces as you attempt to keep your tower from sustaining damage. It also fuses that with the RTS ability to move your characters anywhere on screen. The formula is sound, but the problem is that Keep Defenders is dull and not much fun.
The problems start with the simple fact that the entire first hour of this game is effectively a tutorial. The first several rounds of gameplay all exist as an introduction to new unit types. This isn’t a big deal on its own, but combine that with ridiculously long tutorial rounds (25 waves taking about 45 seconds each, 10 seconds of which is down time between waves) and we soon realized that we had spent an entire hour doing practically nothing. These segments could easily have been diluted down to as few as five waves, but we were kept waiting much longer just to extend the life of an otherwise very short game.
Storm the sand castle!
While the graphics and aesthetic style are both quite good, nothing else is done to give more personality to the soldiers you’re fighting with. They’re all essentially the same, but with a few different abilities. It seems almost impossible that cute little characters like these could be so bereft of charisma. What’s the point of fighting with soldiers if they have the same amount of personality as a machine gun from Fieldrunners?
There’s really no reason for the RTS controls, because they actually remove strategy from the game. If units were stationary, the player would at least have to plan out where to place the units. However, since the units can be moved anywhere, all you have to do is lump them all together in one big mass, and head straight for the enemy.
Washington on the Delaware.
It’s not all bad, though. The controls are simple, and in an RTS, simple is good. It can be somewhat difficult to select individual units, which can lead to some frustration, but it’s not that much of an annoyance.
Keep Defenders actually handles unit selection rather nicely. In many other games, the means for drag-selecting a mass of units is done by placing two fingers on the screen and dragging outwards away from one another to create a box. In Keep Defenders, there is an icon on the tool bar that you can tap, and then your next finger swipe creates a box. So instead of changing your grip and fumbling around trying to make a box, Keep Defenders allows you to do the job quickly and simply.
This is a game that doesn’t make the best of RTS or Tower Defense style games. In this sense, Keep Defenders is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.