Evil Defenders lets you be the bad guy. Instead of being the knight in shining armour, you are the goblins, mages, ogres and demons doing your best to tower defence the good guys out of existence. It’s a refreshing take on a genre that is easily made but rarely satisfyingly pulled off.
Evil Defenders excels in a few key areas. Firstly – it looks beautiful. The hand-drawn whimsical fairytale feel works perfectly here and the spells and effects work nicely. Secondly, each map is vastly different in look and feel. Tower layouts always change between levels but here each map has an environmental quirk that can help or hinder you. Some have trap doors you can keep shut to stop more enemies attacking, others have a bog that you can pay to spew some poisonous gas at your opponents. They add a nice twist to the levels and some can be quite key to your success. One instance will see you casting a tesla coil attack whilst the enemy is wading through the river so you can give more damage.
Of the towers themselves – there are only five – arrows, elemental magic, a bomber, troops and an enemy status effect caster. Along with four power-ups to help you out, they form the building blocks of your assault. It sounds small initially but the towers have a branching tree of upgrades you can buy in level from the coins gained killing enemies. Each tower has three initial versions of itself and they can be upgraded into one of three higher levels to then be upgraded three times again. With each having different abilities, attack ranges and damage stats, the early stages are genuinely fun as you use trial and error to see what works well and where.
Each level, to begin with, contains 15 stars and each successful playthrough earns between 1 and 3 stars depending on how well you did. That unlocks the next difficulty level which increases the number of waves, enemies and their stats. To combat the curve you can also upgrade your skills and towers too. You can go straight for causing more damage or spend time augmenting towers by adding freezes, stat reductions and time warps. These are the things you’ll have unlocked in your skill tree mentioned earlier. By the time you’ve completed the 15 stars you then unlock a challenge level for that map which gives you 25 non-stop waves and a limited starting budget.
Evil Defenders is not difficult by any stretch, although getting all the stars will take some time (I’m a good 17 hours in and not quite there just yet) but if you find yourself struggling, replaying old levels nets you more cash to spend on the upgrades tree. That way purists who will see this as a nice lite game will enjoy the challenge, whilst newcomers and casual fans can still reach the end goal happily.