‘NecroDefense’ sounds a little like a misnomer. In this tower defense game from KONGZHONG Mammoth, you defend structures throughout the land from wave after wave (after wave, after wave) of orcs, who look more like a goblin race than anything dead. However, the game’s story says they come from the gates of Hell, so perhaps they’re dead orcs?
Story aside (evil rises, wakes up some guy, he wants to put them back so he can get back to sleep, or something like that), NecroDefense is a pretty solid little game, though not without a few minor flaws. Better still, it has an incredibly intuitive interface and requires a strong amount of input from the player.
Your basic set-up is to hold the iPhone in portrait mode, which places the area you’re defending at the top of the screen. Orcs and their allies (including red four-legged beasts, catapults, and big armored hulks) soon begin to approach from the bottom and sides of the screen. Your job is to make sure they don’t reach the top of the screen, or at least the point where they begin actively throwing things at you, draining your life bar.
One flaming canonball, coming up.
From the outset, you are given a three-man (well, one man and two women) squad to use to defend the gates. The man wields a bow, which will be your primary defense as you attempt to pick enemies off one by one, though some require more hits. He also has a secondary attack, triggering a winch to hurl a large boulder at your enemy.
Using the bow is quite simple: Tap an enemy, and he gets shot. Less simple is the boulder, which requires you to hold your finger over the enemy you want hit. The problem with this is that the characters are moving, and there is not a very generous margin of error. The attack takes time to activate, and the enemy is likely to wander outside of your touch range in that time (while still being largely hidden by your finger), thus negating the attack. This resulted in us largely ignoring this attack altogether and focusing on other methods.
Your other two members are magic users, and they require more time to prep their spells than it does for your lead to draw his bow, so they’ll probably be used more frequently. Fortunately, their attacks also cast across a much wider range, affecting many more enemies.
I knew I should’ve brought my jacket.
Your second character has spells activated by swiping your finger either horizontally or vertically. Vertical swipes will cause a flaming boulder to roll down the screen, crushing everything in its path, while horizontal swipes cause a wall of ice to form. The only real problem is that the game does not seem to require very long swipes, so occasionally you’ll accidentally trigger an attack where or when you don’t want to.
The third and final character is what you might consider your ‘big guns,’ as their spell takes the longest to ready. But once it’s ready, you just follow a line shown on the screen to activate a full-screen ice storm. Unfortunately, for the time it takes, it doesn’t seem to kill a lot of enemies.
And so it goes as your trio progresses throughout the land fighting evil. You gain gold from each battle, win or lose (more if you win, of course), which can be used to upgrade your characters with faster reloading time, or to purchase new characters who bring their own somewhat-unique attacks to the field. In the archer’s case, the second character you can get is Robin Hood, who uses ice arrows and a catapult. The second mage uses poisonous roses and a tornado, and so on.
Engage? We hardly know each other!
While the backdrops change as you progress, it doesn’t feel like there is a whole lot of variety. New enemies do seem to wait around every turn, and the difficulty starts to take a steep climb around midway through the second part of the map. This is where upgrading your characters and/or purchasing new ones comes in handy; however, this is done by either using gold earned in-game or purchasing gemstones using real-life currency. And if you’re not looking to spend, then you’ll be looking to grind.
Unfortunately, NecroDefense’s gameplay doesn’t really hold up well when repeating the same stages over and over again, so playing the game for money can become tedious. However, there is at least one special area in which you are attacked by a significant number of the game’s most basic enemy, and you can leave with a pretty decent score and amount of gold. But it’s not even remotely challenging, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re just trying to earn more money.
Though NecroDefense has some flaws and is probably not ideal for longer game sessions, particularly as you progress and need to build up your team, it’s still a rather enjoyable experience at its core.