When you think of Chinese mythology your mind probably goes straight to something involving dragons – not a gang consisting of a timid monk, a pig warrior, a wannabe monkey king, and the like.
But, as Secret Kingdom Defenders demonstrates, controlling such a crew can actually be good fun.
This title, the latest from developer Doppler Hat Games, sets up a very simple story – via some nicely presented comic strip style cutscenes – of a young monk who must team up with a variety of characters to help rescue a princess.
Wonton of adventure
You do this by selecting a number of different warriors to enter a series of self-contained arenas, where you do battle in real-time. You drag individual squad members to where you want them to stand and whom you want them to attack, with the action occurring across three planes.
To complete battles you must defeat every foe that approaches you, with both forward- and fast-thinking required to succeed. If your entire squad dies it’s game over – but the same is true if you allow just one enemy to reach the far left of the screen.
This means every battle is a constant balancing act between attack and defence, with each member of your team equipped with different abilities.
Your squad is limited in strength but not powers. There are characters with long-range weapons, others with healing abilities, and others with close-range attacks. Winning battles earns you Jade, with which you can summon new characters and buy new equipment to improve your existing roster.
The real-time nature of the battles in Secret Kingdom Defenders makes them far more involving than a turn-based set-up, with the visuals being clear and colourful enough to make the action work.
Secret Kingdom Defenders is similar to other grid-based defence titles like Battleheart and Hero Academy, but looks to give things its own unique oriental twist.
However, the game is not free of flaws, aside from its obvious debt to other titles. One of these includes the fact that it becomes difficult to progress once you’ve got roughly an hour in, unless you’re prepared to repeat previous levels constantly or turn to in-app purchases.
These let you obtain new characters – with specific ones available at a discount at specific times of the day – as well as items including Jade, which in turn allows you to unlock new characters.
Once you progress to a certain point in the game your squad will simply not be good enough to repel the enemies thrown at you. You can choose to grind away to rectify this rather than spending real-life cash, but levels are less fun the second, third, and fourth time around. Especially when the reward is simply more levels containing a slightly harder version of the same thing.
There are elements thrown in to add variety, such as random characters – and defeated bosses – joining your team. These are more than welcome, but ultimately how much you enjoy Secret Kingdom Defenders will depend on how much you get out of the combat system.
Secret Kingdom Defenders is a title that manages to successfully stand its ground in the somewhat crowded grid-based defence genre