Mighty Wardens has received its first substantive update, and it brings some nice new additions, albeit with questionable freemium-style delivery. The major changes you’ll notice are a few new enemies, sub-bosses, and bigger bonuses for multiplayer (likely to encourage a more active community there). They’ve also redone the skill tree to require paying in-game gold to unlock and level skills– and fortunately, the gold costs are minimal.
The last major change is that shops occur in every level, and they have one new addition: familiars. These cutesy and sometimes creepy familiars collect gold for your warden, and provide other bonuses, including more experience and combat-related spells. Unfortunately, you have to buy them with real money, which only perpetuates our original feelings about the shops being an opportunity to spend your money, not your warden’s money, on content easily done without. This update is nice for current players, but not enough to change the game’s score.
While most games provide some form of plot, other games rely on nonverbal cutscenes and visual cues to give you a gist of where you are and what you’re doing. Mighty Wardens is one of those games. It’s filled with button-mashing combat and is occasionally interrupted by cutscenes of orcs beheading noble-looking monarchs to convince you that you’re fighting for the good guys. Of course, plot isn’t really the selling point of a side-scrolling action game, but we appreciated the non-intrusive story delivery all the same.
In Mighty Wardens, you choose one of four classes to help out the monarchs through a single-player or co-operative multiplayer campaign, or you can instead choose to go straight for glory in battle against one to three other foes in an arena. Your progress with each class is saved, so if you level up your Druid, it will remain at that level even if you decide to roll with the Battle Mage for a while.
Hey! If you’re going to fight, do it outside!
Regardless of class, the game mechanics are very simple: a mostly invisible joystick and three buttons, one each for attacking, jumping, and using a special move. You encounter waves of not greatly varying enemies as you venture through each level, which include somewhat generic settings of forests and castles and mountains, and do battle with them using simple but fun combos and class-specific attacks. You can save items in your inventory to be used by your other characters, and you can buy more in the surprisingly infrequent shops– however, loot you find usually serves you better than the shops, which serve more as prompts to spend real money on the highest-end weapons and armor.
The game benefits from a simple design that doesn’t require much attention be paid to inventory management or skill development (good or bad depending on the gamer), leaving more time for paving your way through hordes of enemies. We hesitate to say that these enemies are cute, but the relatively charming animation calls for that term; stunted characters with occasionally bulging eyes carrying disproportionately-sized weapons are rather adorable, even when they are hacking away at each other.
The multiplayer modes have potential, but only if you bring friends, because the auto-match times we experienced were long and lonely. While this is no fault of the developer, we found ourselves turning to the single-player campaign more often than not. There are enough achievements and reasons to replay the campaign (four reasons to be precise– one for each class) to redeem the multiplayer weakness, but the game doesn’t have enough variety to make you want to max out the levels for all four classes. Still, fans of the genre will enjoy this well polished and simple action experience.