What is it about the "standard fantasy setting" that is so rife with upheaval? The orcs and goblins are always in need of some sacred macguffin the humans possess whether it be a ring or some magic portal. Whichever it may be, there is always a reason to defend your castle against the hordes of rampaging baddies bent on stealing your… whatever. Defenders and Dragons is the newest entry into this genre and may be the perfect defense against boredom.
Defenders and Dragons is a side scrolling action game that has you in control of a warrior tasked with protecting a magical crystal gate. Outside the walls of the fortress, there are hordes of enemies looking to break through your defenses to destroy this source of power. So you've got a warrior and a whole bunch of bad guys, I wonder what could happen next? Wave after wave of mayhem.
The control scheme used is incredibly simple. Hold either side of the screen to move left or right, but in order to attack, you have to stand still. As you progress through the game, you also earn more abilities, power ups, and allies that you can activate using buttons scattered about the screen. The controls are simple and intuitive. They never came between me and the action. They fade into the back of your mind, like all good control systems should, and leave your brain to consider when to most effectively utilize that powerful, spinning slash, a special move of one of the warriors.
The graphics of Defenders and Dragons look simply beautiful. They are uncluttered and shimmer in three dimensions the way a great, modern side-scroller should. They draw you in and your eyes can feast on the backgrounds of the castle or treetop elf fortress. The character designs are all pleasantly cartoonish and the enemies are all designed in such a way that you’ll never mistake an orc archer for a goblin warrior. Defenders and Dragons is easy on the eyes, which is a great thing since you'll be staring at a lot of the same characters through endless waves of attacking baddies.
That spinning slash, like most other aspects of your warrior, can be upgraded. You earn gold and gems by defeating waves and waves of enemies. The upgrade store is similar to just about any other defender game. You can spend your spoils hardening your armor or sharpening your weapons with the money you earned, or the money you've bought. Yes, Defenders and Dragons has in-app purchases so you can essentially buy your way into beastly warriors, but thankfully it never pushes that option in your face; it’s simply there for if you ever get tired of grinding.
It isn't always about your warrior though. Defenders and Dragons injects strategy into the mix by giving you control over autonomous pikemen, guards, and archers that you can summon to help in a pinch. You have to weigh your stockpile of points in order to call for more powerful aid, but you might need help in the short term. This element isn't unique to Defenders and Dragons, but this particular implementation is well balanced and your decision can have an enormous effect on whether you survive the sea of goblins and dragons.
Defenders and Dragons isn't perfect though. It has the same pitfalls of any defense game, which is endless repetition. This isn't the sort of game you want to play for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. The soundtrack leaves something to be desired. It would have been nice to have more than a couple tracks to entertain your ears while you wade through endless waves of orcs, trolls, and dragons. Also, every time you complete a wave of enemies, you have to wade through the menus again, including the shop, to get to the next wave. I simply wish it was easier to rapidly grind and save up some gold and gems for upgrades.
Overall, Defenders and Dragons is a damn good defense game. If you've got the time and the strategic mind, you can really get some enjoyment out of protecting the crystal portal from hordes of baddies. Does it bring anything new to the defender genre? No. It simply does everything a good defense game should, and it does them well. Defenders and Dragons can easily hold off the onslaught of boredom, even if only for a little while.