Game Review #218: Hell Warders (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Reviewer: Allan Jenks
Developer: Anti Gravity Game Studios
Category: Action, Tower Defense, Strategy
Release Date: 2.21.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy Hell Warders from the Nintendo eShop here.
Hell Warders is a tower defense game where you place different types of soldiers with specialized abilities—known as Hell Warders—strategically throughout your tower to prevent demons from destroying your Nexus, a source of power that the demons are seeking out to become super demons. In addition to the placement of these Hell Warders, your character also plays an active role in the battle, fighting through swarms of demons coming through the literal gates of Hell to destroy you. This frenzy of action, mixed with some RPG, strategy, and beat ‘em up creates a unique-yet-familiar experience. Is it a great experience? Let’s jump right in…
So... I just… Wing It?
The first thing I noticed about this game upon starting was that there was very little along the lines of a tutorial. There was some basic storytelling—if you let the title screen play for a minute, it will elaborate on the story as well—but, for the most part, you just sort of get tossed into the game and left to figure out what to do on your own.
There is a quick rundown of the controls, explaining how to bring up the Hell Warders you can place throughout the stage and how to set them in place once you decide where you want to place them. You also get a rundown of the different attacks your main character has available.
Throughout the game, as you unlock additional types of Warders, the game will give you a brief description of what their specialties are. It will also explain the new types of enemies you may encounter and what they are weak against. So, there is a tutorial, but it still didn’t feel like I had any better of a grasp on the strategy involved when all was said and done.
Suffice it to say, I was just randomly placing Warders around the stages and hoping for the best, and for the most part, it was working out… until it stopped working and I kept dying. At that point, I started dying a lot. Apparently I am just not very good at this game. I tried to play online multiplayer to see if I had better luck on a team, but unfortunately, there were never any other players online at the same time as me, so I was unable to experience the online mode.
Here’s What I Came Up With…
What I was able to figure out about the game is this: You have a set timer that tells you when the next attack wave will start. Once you run out of time—or if you finish positioning everyone and just start the wave on your own—the enemies start their raid on your Nexus. Several waves will occur before the tower is cleared. Each wave has a set number of enemies which is displayed in one of the tiny boxes on-screen that I couldn’t read until I watched a gameplay video that zoomed in on it and told me what it was—more on tiny text a little later.
Once an enemy is killed or one of your soldiers is defeated, you gain points that can be used to place more soldiers. This can be done during an active wave, which is nice, because otherwise you would have to rely solely on your initial attack formation. After a successful battle, you receive new upgrades and skill points, as well as the occasional unlocked warder to deploy or sometimes to play as. You can use the skill points to upgrade stats on either your character or the soldiers, so you can really customize your approach and decide if you want to be the team’s tank, or if you want a more evenly distributed support team.
Visually, when I saw the trailer I was impressed. When I played the actual game, however, I felt a bit different. The graphics look amazing in the trailer… smooth frame rate, excellent light and shading, all that jazz. The actual gameplay, however, was a different animal. It’s like when I first found out that Mortal Kombat was released on the Sega Master System and I pulled up gameplay footage. Sure… it was Mortal Kombat… but not quite the same. The actual Hell Warders gameplay was choppy, the lighting and shading was bad or non-existent most of the time, and the enemies just weren’t as intense. That said, it wasn’t horrible, but had the expectations been set a little lower, it would have been a bit less disappointing.
The soundtrack was good. Ominous orchestral arrangements kept the tension high during wave after wave of demonic battling. It set the correct mood for demon battling, and was quite intense.
Now, this may not affect everyone, but I feel that it is worth noting that the text on the screen is TINY! I wear glasses, so I am not the bearer of 20/20 excellence in vision, but my prescription is up-to-date, and I can usually see what is going on, but in handheld mode, I simply couldn’t read 80-90% of the text on the screen, which was the majority of the helpful information about the different Warders and enemies. It wasn’t much easier to read on the big screen either, but I could at least mostly make it out if I squinted. I am sure this also affected my overall gameplay experience, as most of the time I had no idea what was going on or why things were working or not working.
I am normally a fan of tower defense games, because I am pretty decent at most of them, and enjoy a good defense strategy. Hell Warders wasn’t a terrible experience, but it wasn’t a great experience either. It was just OK. Had I understood a bit more of what was going on most of the time, I would have probably enjoyed it a bit more, but overall, it was just not very engaging for me. If you are a fan of the genre though, you may get some enjoyment out of this one, but probably more as something to kill a few minutes when you can’t think of something else to play.
Buy Hell Warders from the Nintendo eShop here.
Follow Anti Gravity Game Studios
*Review Code Provided by PQube