Friday, March 8, 2019

Hell Warders (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

SuperPhillip Central continues this busy day of content with a second review to lead us into the weekend. It's for a combination action/tower-defense game, Hell Warders for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Let's check it out and fend off the warriors of Hell with this review.

Ward off both Hell and boredom at the same time

It's always entertaining when developers take a mishmash of gaming genres and combine them into one game. That's exactly what Anti Gravity Studios has done with Hell Warders, part action-RPG, part tower-defense game. The end result makes for a compelling enough game to stick with to the very end, if not one that reveals most of its tricks in its repertoire fairly early.

Battles in Hell Warders consist of various waves, with the goal of using your character (from a choice of three types with different skills and attacks to them) and an assortment of troops to ward off attacking waves of Hell's warriors. At the beginning of each battle, you get some currency to work with to purchase new troops to place around the 3D arena battlegrounds in real time, as well as upgrade their power. Once you're ready and raring to go to war with Hell's forces, the first wave begins.

Troops come in the form of foot soldiers, archers, mages, catapults, ballistas, and more, and each is introduced one after the other per mission, of which there are five per area of the game--around 20 total. The more powerful the troop type, the more money they cost to place. You're limited by not only how much money you have to work with--though this is remedied by the fact that enemies do drop money as battles wage on--but how many different units you can have active on the battlefield at one time, and how many times you can strengthen them. There's definitely strategy in factoring in where to place units, what types of units to have, and when to strengthen them.

This boss surely isn't going to play a game of croquet with its mallet.
Troop and unit placement is important, as starting off in each map, enemies will descend onto the battlefield from several entry points. As more waves progress (you get small reprieves to gather resources and rebuild your army in between waves), new entry points are established by the enemy, resulting in needing to expand your troops and where you position them.

The final mission of each area of the game features a tremendously powerful boss to take down in the final wave. These foes are large and definitely in charge, able to strike down your units as well as your own character with one to two blows. While your troops don't revive themselves, your character does--though it requires a ten second wait period to do so, and in a game with a focus on time and micromanagement, this can be a killer. Well, not as much as a killer as the rather difficult bosses to battle.

One of the early battlefields in Hell Warders' campaign introduces a bit of verticality into the fold.
Completing missions earns you artifacts that can be equipped to your character to present new bonuses in battle for different troops types. One raises the health of spearmen, while another boosts the attack rate of archers. You also earn beacons, up to five depending on how swiftly you complete a mission and how little damage has been inflicted on your crystal, which serve as means to boost the stats of your characters and troops. You can increase your character's attack, health, ability cooldown time, and improve your overall units' health, damage, attack speed, and more. Thus, there is an incentive to perform well in battles and replay them.

Hell Warders supports co-operative play for up to four players online, and really, it seems like the game was mostly built for that. Trying to multitask and micromanage later battles in Hell Warders' campaign gets to the point where luck becomes as much of a factor as skill when you're playing alone. The proverbial cards have to be stacked in your favor sometimes just to get a victory, which obviously isn't a problem when you have one or more other players helping you out against Hell's horde of monsters and demons. A bit more balance for solo players would have been greatly appreciated.

Join forces online to ward off the forces of Hell together.
Performance of Hell Warders isn't too terribly terrific. The Nintendo Switch build runs like a slideshow when an immense amount of monsters appear on the screen, and since this is commonplace in the game, this occurs multiple times every wave. The art style is fittingly Gothic and gloomy, so if you're fan of drab and dull environments, Hell Warders has got your covered, as the game has a lot of those areas to battle in. The voice acting is quite forced, rarely getting above serviceable levels, and oftentimes being jarring at worst. Meanwhile, the music suits the game well with its forlorn on some occasions and other times bombastic score.

Hell Warders shows most of its tricks early on within its campaign, but the tricks it does have are pretty solid. The balance of the campaign in solo play is off kilter by quite a bit, and the performance is less than satisfactory. It all amounts to a game that you'll be warding off not only Hell's forces, but also the occasional frustration here and there, too.

[SPC Says: C]

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