Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Invasion Defender is a controversial tower defence

iconInvasion Defender brings a controversial new twist into the popular tower defense (TD) genre, which will see some players completely adore it, while others will denounce it, saying it’s not even a real TD game.

Available on iTunesWhatever side you’re on, you can’t deny the fact that for a game built by a single person – Invasion Defender is most impressive. Let’s take it from the top:

Invasion Defender is a freemium mobile game, built exclusively for iOS. It was created by Adilson Dias, and features deep space, a mothership, a lot of expandable fighter planes, various enemies and some power-ups to help you get along.

Controversial mechanics

invasion screenshot 1Like I said in the introduction, this is a tower defense game, however – it’s not a “real” TD. “Real” games in the genre defend a focal point from waves of marauding hordes, by building various towers along the path which the hordes use.

Invasion Defender, being in space, has no such limitations. In it, you are tasked with defending the mothership with fighter planes, but there is no path – you get to place the ships wherever you see fit.

Some will see this as a tactical advantage, while others will definitely see it as a flawed mechanic, because the entire point of the TD genre is to carefully consider where to place which type of canon, to make sure its maximum potential is used.

I won’t be taking any sides here and encourage everyone to try it for themselves. There is another gameplay mechanic which can become controversial: the ships used in the level.

The fighter planes, being in direct line of fire, will most often die trying to protect the mothership. However, you can always have a pre-defined amount of jets on the screen. So if, for example, you can use five of them – even if all five are destroyed, you can again place five more, making sure the mothership survives.

Yet again, some will see this as a tactical advantage, while others will see it as a ruined gameplay experience.

Solid visuals

In terms of visuals, the game is solid. Fairly static, with ships moving about quite slowly, but considering that it’s all the work of a single person, I can’t criticize the looks. There is, however, one thing that could be improved, and that’s the size of the text and the power-ups. Playing the game on an iPhone 5, I have had a lot of trouble reading any text or selecting any of the power-ups. The characters and the icons are quite small, and knowing the limited real-estate of a 4-inch screen, that can be quite a nuisance. I’d recommend increasing the sizes, even if that means having to add both horizontal and vertical scrolls.

In-app purchases and virtual currencies

invasion screenshot 2In terms of monetization, the game does quite nicely even though, as I mentioned earlier, there is some confusion over power-ups. I have spotted two types of ads in the game, a horizontal one at the bottom, which is always present, and a screen takeover one, which pops up once you finish a level.

Unfortunately, I have not seen any rewarded video ads, even though the game’s premise allows it and could fit it quite nicely.

Invasion Defender has an in-game currency of its own, which is collected as you play through the game and finish levels. The currency can then be invested into various power-ups. However, each ship only has a handful of slots where these power-ups can be placed, giving the game a completely new tactical depth.

I find this solution extremely good, and any mechanic where you can choose the way to customize your fighters gives the game +100 on quality.

For the work of a single man, Invasion Defender can only be praised. It has laid great foundations for something that can become a genre-defining (or genre-improving) game. A completely free map to place your fighters, together with a limited amount of slots for power-ups allows the player to get creative and develop a sense of strategy.

On the other hand, the lack of a third dimension, and the possibility to always have a pre-set amount of fighters on screen kills that tactical incentive, which is definitely something I’d work on.

Visually, the game is satisfying, but in terms of monetization it could be better, especially when rewarded ads could reward the player with power-ups and various boosts.

All in all, it’s a good start.

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