It’s not every day that you find a mobile game as rich and plentiful as Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia. This game is deep. Very deep. Between acquiring magical spoils of war and leveling up four hero protagonists, DC II pits iOS players against countless droves of dragons, werewolves, golems, ninjas, vampires and dozens of other foul creatures in a quest to protect your military stronghold. Yes, Heroes of Athelia is another tower-defense game. Don’t roll your eyes just yet, though, because this one proudly stands out among the crowd, just as Defender Chronicles I did back in 2009.
DC II is a vertical tower-defense game set in a medieval fantasy universe. The concept is fairly straightforward: earn military units, strategically place them, and prevent enemies from reaching your tower. Players scroll up and down the battlefield with their finger and tap flags scattered throughout to build units. Available units include mages, archers, knights, dwarves, and more. Fallen enemies grant the player coins to spend toward new units or unit upgrades. A somewhat lackluster and vaguely humorous storyline ties the action together via comic book-like stills.
Aside from its main campaign, Heroes of Athelia offers freestyle and extended modes that considerably increase its replay value. Be prepared to spend way too much time playing this game. Five levels of difficulty ensure that new and veteran players alike can find a place to jump right in. While fast fingers and hours of grinding can give players some advantage, this game ultimately relies on pure strategy.
The more hours I put into DC II (and trust me, you will put many hours into this game), I began to realize just how much depth it has. There are ten battle maps and twenty accessible map locations in total. Each of the four available “heroes” provides unique skill sets and gameplay styles. Weapons can be purchased from any of the numerous in-game stores or earned from victories in battle. Well-balanced mathematical combat formulas, unlockable medals, spells, status attacks, epic background music, and tiered bosses are only a few indicators of just how huge this game really is. One of the map locations, called “The Academy,” functions as a comprehensive guide to the stats and descriptions of every single friendly and enemy unit in the game(the App store claims nearly 75 all together). The degree of incredible detail found in Heroes of Athelia, in my opinion, is simply remarkable for a game app under $5.
The game does have its drawbacks. While hardcore gamers may want to burn me at the stake for doing so, I have to admit that DC II’s frustratingly difficult gameplay will be a downside for casual gamers. Of the five levels of difficulty available, it took me hours of practice and leveling up to even have a chance past the second. It’s my theory that the developers used this difficulty element to milk money from players via in-app purchases. I’ve never been particularly fond of that tactic, so I was forced to forsake certain tiers of weapons and abilities.
This review might seem a tad overwhelming, but I assure you that’s the way I felt when I played Defender Chronicles II. Never having played the first one, I had no idea what to expect going into it. It’s addictive, challenging, and much more satisfying than your average tower-defense game. The best advice I can give is to grab a copy yourself and get started. There are towers that need defending.