Review: Prime World Defenders

By Dave Neumann 07 Apr 2014 0
Pictured: Every tower defense game, ever

As I was trudging my way through the Prime World Defenders campaign, I was reminded of something from the board game world: JASE.

JASE is an acronym that means Just Another Soulless Euro and is used to describe board games that are lifeless and more of a math exercise than a game. It doesn’t mean these euros are bad games. Quite the contrary, they are usually incredibly polished games with mechanics that all fit together like the innards of a pocket watch. Unfortunately, they just don’t do anything new or innovative, and have been so thoroughly streamlined as to evoke no emotion in the players.

Prime World Defenders isn’t a board game at all, in fact, it’s actually a pretty amazing tower defense game, but nothing you haven’t seen countless times before. Oh, they try to differentiate themselves by adding a collectible card mechanism to the game but, in the end, it all feels like every other tower defense game you’ve ever played. In the end it’s Just Another Soulless Tower Defense Game.

Good to see the steampunk version of the chainmail bikini make an appearance Good to see the steampunk version of the chainmail bikini make an appearance. As we all know, you need hips to accurately fire a crossbow.

Prime World Defenders tries to add a little heart by introducing itself with a comic book style intro that failed in every conceivable way in making me give a whit. Something about an apocalypse (yawn), a new element (yawn), and the ensuing war (yawn). Whatever. Tower defense is such a gamey genre that trying to base it in any sort of reality is pretty ridiculous. So, I’m in a cavern where I can only build towers in certain areas, and the bad guys are all going to come walking through in single-file while I annihilate them? Why are we trying to make this remotely real with some tacked on bullshit story? The best tower defense games either take themselves so lightly that the entire premise is part of the joke (Plants vs. Zombies and Fieldrunners) or create a sense of mystery about what is actually happening (Defense Grid: The Awakening). If you’re not going to do that, just give me a bunch of towers and enemies and let me blow stuff up. Get your trope-tastic story out of my face.

Gameplay wise, PWD is actually pretty slick. There are a lot of towers, the maps are interesting, and the graphics are top notch. Immeditately, however, you’ll start to notice issues. Guess what kind of towers there are. If you guessed “basic tower that shoots”, “tower that can slow”, “tower that has area effect”, “tower that attacks only flying enemies” then you’re a goddamn genius! There are more, but all of them are variants on these standard tower themes. Also, you’re given a limited set of slots that you can bring into each level with you, so get ready to use the same 4-5 towers over and over again. If you got the tower question wrong, here’s an easy one for you: What are the enemies like in PWD? Lets go: “standard walkers”, “tougher walkers”, “weak fast walker swarm”, “flyers”, “really tough walkers”, etc. Again, there is nothing that you haven’t seen before.

Where PWD tries to separate itself from the pack is with the cards. Towers come on cards. That’s it, really. You know how in other tower defense games, when you finish a level you’re awarded with a new tower type? Well, in this game you get cards, many of which have towers on them. So, really, the cards are just a means to get new towers into the game. There is a “forging” ability in the game, which allows you to fuse cards and forge them into new towers. This sounds amazing, but all I could ever get a forging to do was level the tower up. For example, if I took a Fire Tower and fused it with a Detector Tower, all I got was a little stronger Fire Tower. Hell, I fused a Fire Tower with 6 different cards at once, and all it did was add several levels to my Fire Tower. Likewise, you can “evolve” towers by adding them to copies of themselves. Likewise, this only allows you to level up the towers. What do new levels give you? More damage and range. Wahoo! Most (all?) tower defense games allow you to level up towers during the game, giving your towers more range and defense, so the entire collectible card system is just a ham-handed way of achieving what other tower defense games let you do without spending money or grinding.

Not pictured: Gameplay

That’s right, dear readers, in order to fuse or evolve your cards you need to spend silver. A lot of silver. Oh, and if you want to buy booster cards you’ll need stars. That’s right, there are 2 currencies in the game which the developers will graciously allow you to purchase for real money in the IAP store. You don’t need to spend any real money, but you will need to grind in order to do everything you’re going to want to do, or to even beat the harder levels. Luckily, the campaign opens up nodes on the map which contain a boss-type level and they are exceedingly difficult. Connected to each of these nodes are an Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty node. Just perfect for grinding until you’re strong enough to take on that main boss node. Then, move the next one. It’s tedious and there’s nothing more miserable than wanting to use the only cool mechanic in the game (fusing and evolution) and not being able to because of a lack of cash.

Prime World Defenders is a good tower defense game. If you’re a fan of the genre, you can’t go wrong playing your way through it’s very lengthy campaign. Just don’t expect anything earth shattering, here. This is the same TD game you’ve been playing ever since Desktop Tower Defense, only with an IAP scheme attached to it. For the rest of us, there’s nothing here that’s going to change your perception of the genre. In fact, the added IAP and grinding might make you hate the genre a little more once you’re done with it.

Review: Prime World Defenders

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