Hero Defense: Haunted Island Review
Hero Defense: Haunted Island is a game that wears its genre on its sleeve, providing solid – if formulaic – gameplay in the classic tower defense style. What it lacks in story-telling, it makes up for in polished game design, but would have benefited from mixing up the formula occasionally.
As the name would suggest, Hero Defense is a tower defense game in its purest form. Enemies funnel through pre-set paths and you maneuver your heroes to hold them back. In this way, your characters really just act as mobile traps and each suit a different function.
Story telling in Hero Defense is relegated to dialogue boxes in between waves of monsters. This strategy keeps it separate from gameplay, which might as well be in a completely different universe. The campy tone of the aesthetics simply don’t match the dialogue which seems to be tongue in cheek, but is delivered straight-faced by its voice actors. This makes the story neither comical nor serious, and it just comes off as awkward. I often found myself cringing at the dialogue and every time I heard Jane Doe say “I’ll never be a victim again”, I considered muting the game entirely.
“The mechanics are solid and while the moment to moment action is a bit repetitive, the steady grind to level your characters is surprisingly satisfying.”
The game fares much better in the gameplay department. The mechanics are solid and while the moment to moment action is a bit repetitive, the steady grind to level your characters is surprisingly satisfying. Static buffs persist once acquired and you can see the effects over time which actually caused me to replay previous levels to grind more experience and money. I do wish the levels and strategies varied more but this is a pure tower defense experience and it’s good at what it does.
Fans of the genre will appreciate the progressive difficulty and replayability of the levels. The extra challenge was enjoyable, but it didn’t always feel fair. Trial and error was the best way to persevere, and that is not often a good strategy. In particular, the fast enemies verge on being unfair and without replaying the level, they will often lead to an instant defeat. Repositioning can be finicky when you’re pressed for time and one missed click can end in disaster. This made me long for a pause option during repositioning even if it would have ruined the flow of combat.
Hero Defense is solid and inoffensive. It does nothing new but it has enough charm and polish to appeal to fans of tower defense. For players who seek higher level strategy or varied gameplay, it will disappoint. It has a very specific niche to fill. The story can be wholly ignored as the conflict between the titular heroes and the villainous Count Necrosis is neither comical nor dramatic, and will be forgotten as soon as gameplay resumes. While it has RPG mechanics this is a tower defense game through and through, substituting canons for characters doesn’t change that. If you love tower defense and can ignore some of the game’s quirks, Hero Defense is worth picking up, but there are not enough unique features to recommend this to the broader PC player base.
***A PC review code was provided by the publisher***
- Appealing character designs
- Pleasant art style
- Strong gameplay
- Repetitive design
- Weak storytelling
- Lackluster voice acting