The tower defence genre has become both increasingly crowded and popular in recent years due to their broad appeal, simple yet addictive nature and the ease with which they can be played on mobile devices. With so many competing titles and a limited scope for variation there’s bound to be similarities between certain titles, and Defend Your Life does have quite a bit in common with Kingdom Rush – one of the most popular Tower Defense games available. However Defend Your Life does have a fairly unique premise in that it’s set within a human body and sees you struggle to fight off an onslaught of viruses and ailments.
The cute cartoony graphics are pretty nice to look at and are certainly reminiscent numerous other titles but the human body setting immediately brought to mind the old Saturday morning cartoon Once Upon a Time… Life. However any hopes for an element of education were short-lived as it was clear there is a fairly loose adherence to the core concept. The enemy types may consist of real-life viruses and poisons such as alcohol and nicotine and the various towers include a platelet barracks (for slowing down enemy units) and a vitamin station (for buffing your other towers) but otherwise the towers could have come from any other game with fast-firing cannons, powerful tesla coils, and splash damage-inflicting bombardment towers. The fact that one of the enemy units is a robot and the bombardment tower can be upgraded to a nuclear missile silo further undermines the setting.
The most important factor of a game though is how fun it is, and Defend Your life certainly succeeds in that area. It’s easy to get sucked in and lose plenty of type fending off the enemy waves in what starts off as as quite a simple game but shows hidden levels of complexity. The attack paths for the enemies are pre-set and the limited areas for placing your towers means there’s no scope for ‘mazing’ the enemies by altering their paths – and surprisingly there are no flying units to deal with – which makes the first few levels a very straightforward process. Oxygen, your in-game resource, is readily available and you’re guided along a fairly rigid path of which towers to place and where.
However as you begin to progress your options open and a variety of tactics start to become available. Towers can be upgraded in a variety of different ways, and crucially you can choose to start each enemy wave earlier for a reward of extra oxygen if you feel you have your defences set up in time. Three different power-up bars (a localised bomb, screen-spanning electric shock and an adrenaline shot for your towers) constantly fill up and choosing when and how to use them can be crucial while the introduction of hero units which you can direct around the screen adds an extra level of interactivity missing from many other tower defence games.
The shallow difficulty level soon ramps up dramatically as well, to the extent I found myself stuck after only about a third of the 17 available levels. At this point the game helpfully reminded me that the earlier levels I had beaten could be replayed on a higher difficulty setting to earn extra tablets – which can be used to purchase permanent upgrades to your towers and abilities. With this in mind I was able to start making progress again – although the increased difficulty (which takes the form of reduced resources, more limited towers and a faster speed) means these easy early levels can become very challenging again. Even after earning extra tablets I still struggled through many of the later levels though and the demanding nature seems slightly at odds with the charming visuals.
Despite being a surprisingly fun experience in most respects, the game lets itself down with some poor production issues. It’s clearly been designed with mobile devices in mind – instructions refer to tapping the screen and images show a finger swiping to activate actions – which also explains the uneven difficulty (as a mobile device would want to encourage players to make in-game purchases to help them). Certain parts of the in-game encylopaedia take you out of the game to Alda Games own website, and the translation appears to be have been completed by individuals of widely differing abilities – some parts are translated so well you wouldn’t know it was created by a Czech developer while other parts are also amusingly poor. The frame rate can also suffer at times which is hard to forgive for such a simple game. It is refreshing however to see the developers supporting the game post-release though with patches to fix glitches and address some of the difficulty issues, and even add an extra stage to up the number available from 16 to 17.
Overall Defend Your Life is certainly fun to play, if a little generic, but with superior games like Plants vs Zombies, Kingdom Rush and Defense Grid available it’s hard to recommend it too highly. Gamers looking for a challenge will definitely be well catered for, and the extra difficulty settings effectively triple the number of stages to play through which provides a worthy amount of content.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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