Duke of Defense Review – Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Duke of Defense
Tower defense games have always had a special place in my heart, but I’ve never played one that’s held my attention for more than an hour or two. As fun as it is watching your turrets cut down hordes of enemies, I lose interest quickly due to the lack of depth in gameplay. Duke of Defense approaches the idea of tower defense games in a different way. The player controls a knight that must run around the map building structures while also striking at enemies. At first, I questioned if this was enough to keep me interested to the end, but Duke of Defense delivers a unique experience that’s fun and worthwhile for everyone. Albeit a not very long game, Duke of Defense rethinks what the tower defense genre can be, while keeping things simple.
Putting up a fight
The game starts by showing the Duke trekking through a forest. He hears some screams coming from a distance and immediately runs in that direction to help. A simple narrative works for a game like this. It breaks up the stress of the levels and delivers some decent humour to cool everything down. The story never takes itself too seriously, but still coincides with the visuals, music, and gameplay.
With no cursor to assist, building your turrets is not a fast process. Duke of Defense plays slower than most tower defence games but uses different methods to create some tense moments. Once you’ve adjusted to building whilst attacking the waves of enemies bent on your destruction, things are pretty easy for a while. Difficulty ramps up in the final third of the game, but it was a little too late for me. Any difficult level merely required using the same two or three turrets that are overpowered, and that’s it.
Being the Duke
While boasting nine separate turrets, not all of them are worth using if you only enjoy the victories. Much of my enjoyment of the campaign came from learning how to utilize the inferior turrets. After the story, six additional levels unlock and actually prove to be somewhat of a challenge, requiring decisive, good, decisive management skills. Additionally, several boss fights occur and steal the entire show. Bosses in tower defense games usually only beefier normal enemies, but Duke of Defense’s bosses fight back. There’s still a horde to deal with, but with many deadly, magic obstacles for the player to survive. These bosses made me with the entire game was only bosses; the level layout and intensity of the fight are stellar.
Both turrets and the Duke may be upgraded but in different ways. Turrets have several choices to upgrade depending on the type. Upgrades for these structures require the player to stand on the turret and wait for a set amount of time. The Duke has over a dozen upgrades relating to his attacks, mobility, and structures. These can only be obtained after completing certain levels. All get unlocked by the end of the game, giving a false sense of choice as it doesn’t matter what choose first. Several other rewards are unlocked throughout the game, with some changing the Duke’s appearance. Any game that lets the player have the head of a deer is good in my books.
Duke of Defense is a refreshing take on an old classic. The game only took just over five hours for me to complete so it is very short. I would have loved to see an endless wave mode as a challenge to promote more replayability. Still, all stages are replayable and have a few secrets to be on the look for. The active gameplay and story serve as an appetizer to the main course that is the boss battles. It’s perfect if you have an entire night to yourself and feel like completing a whole game in one sitting.
Reviewed by Taylor Ivings on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Hitcents.