Hero Defense shows that you can pick off hordes of Zombies, Skeletons, Vampires and other creeping monstrosities with relative ease — given that they are all marching in a single file. Count Necrosis is your typical vampire bad guy who wants to take over an island using his hordes of monsters. Happy Tuesday and Headup Games have created a tower defence hybrid with movable towers and RPG elements. Yes, Hero Defense is marketed as a tower defence game, if by towers you mean a cast of eclectic, upgradeable characters. There is a little more to Hero Defense than its unimaginative name would suggest.
Hero Defense is now coming to the PS4 after originally being released on Steam in 2016. Fans and veterans of the game will find nothing new here and in fact even less so, as the console version isn’t being released with multiplayer. Even without multiplayer, the main game holds enough hours and variety to keep you shooting and slashing until your heart is content. The premise is simple, place your characters around the map, within range of the oncoming beasts, moving if necessary to kill them all and prevent them from reaching the end of the map. Of course, every character is different and each of them is specifically equipped to deal with different types of horrors. The strategy really comes to light when you must move the correct fighters into the correct positions depending on what type of hoard you have creeping towards you (and sometimes there’s a mix).
The town is your hub for improving your fighters by using skill trees and runes to imbue your weapons with abilities. It can all get quite difficult very quickly if you don’t visit regularly to take care of your characters. Upgrading certain parts of your town will allow you to push your characters further and make them more powerful and this can be down using currency that you obtain in battles. Everything is easily laid out and there is a degree of RPG upgradability, however, this isn’t as deep as you would think. Each character has a very minimal skill tree with very few upgradeable elements to each of them. This eliminates the aspect of choice and instead it’s more about just grinding skill points and filling it up when you can.
Killing hordes of the undead have never felt so strategic. The types of hordes that will be coming at you and what path they will take will be displayed at the top of the screen allowing you to think of what characters you will need and where they should be positioned. When all looks bleak you can charge abilities using the orbs you gain from defeating enemies or you can simply lob a bomb. Placing a character on a shrine can also help turn the tide of a fight. Shrines can be found on some maps or can be created if you have enough gems. They can be character specific or can be used by all characters and can improve attack power, attack speed and increase the distance of your attacks among other helpful buffs. If all else fails you could always call on the angry mob, but you won’t get many opportunities to use them.
The camera is a bit of an issue when attempting to manoeuvre it over the map. Rather than being a free-roaming camera it feels stuck on a rail which causes problems when attempting to see certain parts of the level. This is worsened when there are too many moving parts on screen and everything can be a bit of a clusterfuck. Luckily, you can pause the action while you figure out your next moves, but you will mostly want to do this to get the camera in the right position. The pause button is actually a bit of a godsend.
As you work your way through the island, eventually you will have to backtrack and complete previous levels on harder difficulties. This allows you to obtain more stars to unlock new sections of the story. This does add replay value, however trawling back to a level that you may have struggled with for a while isn’t exactly a lot of fun.
Hero Defense shines brightest in the way it merges tower defence with RPG elements, although the latter isn’t as in-depth as it could be. Fans of the genre will find something new in here and fans of the original game on Steam will find nothing new. There are many fun elements to this game with a few drawbacks that stop it on its way to true blood-curdling potential.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*
Awkward camera control Character skill trees are a bit basic Backtracking may not be so appealing