Blending genres to create interesting gaming experiences usually has mixed results. However, Aegis Defenders' combination of 2D platforming and real-time strategy is an absolute blast that you can enjoy with a chum so let's start hunting for relics!
Aegis Defenders stars a gang of Ruinhunters who are on a mission to explore the ruins of an advanced civilization after humankind entered a new dark age. At the start, you and a friend control the curious Clu and her delightful grandfather Bart. Each stage consists of two phases: a platforming phase where you explore a somewhat small Metroidvania-like level and a tower defense phase where you build traps and fend off encroaching enemies to protect a valuable central asset. Exploring to uncover a wealth of collectibles (known as relics), materials, and possibly a power-up then using your found materials to construct turrets and traps only to successfully fend off the final phase's monsters feels just awesome. This is especially true when you play with a friend as you can communicate to ensure that you perform effectively as a team. Overall, I'm thoroughly impressed with Aegis Defenders' satisfying mix of mechanics.
The world of Aegis Defenders comes to life with gorgeous environments that are composed of subtle hues, well-done character artwork, and a stunning soundscape. You'll hear urgent orchestral pieces during the defense phase that'll keep you on the edge of your seat while characters grunt as they struggle to keep up. The story sequences come to life with lively dialogue and the odd vocalisation that helps set the tone for whatever characters are saying. In the end, Aegis Defenders is a fantastic looking and sounding game.
One aspect that Aegis Defenders accomplishes far better than most games is provide a gentle yet constantly engaging learning curve. You start the campaign by building simple traps and learning the ropes and by the end; you'll be controlling four characters simultaneously while a ridiculous amount of monsters fill the screen. However, you'll never find yourself struggling when it comes to how to play because Aegis Defenders does such a phenomenal job of slowly introducing new mechanics, traps, and characters. You'll also purchase new contraption recipes and upgrades as you progress which helps give the campaign an even more rewarding sense of accomplishment.
Although Aegis Defenders is an incredible game, it has a few disappointing aspects. For starters, it's definitely not as fun playing solo. Having to switch characters and keep track of where they're at and what they're doing isn't as fun as having a friend just control them. Speaking of which, considering you eventually need to control four characters simultaneously, it's surprising that there is no four player support. I can see that being super fun yet you can only play with a maximum of two players.
Finally, one small gripe is that collecting all of the relics in a stage can be pretty annoying due to one frustrating flaw. Basically, when you reach the defense phase, you often can't go back. In some stages, a relic may be hiding just past a hole that leads to the defense phase. As a result, not being able to collect everything on the first try will likely make perfectionists frequently irritated.
Aegis Defenders is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable cooperative indie games on the market. If you're looking to spend some 2D gaming time with a chum then you can't do much better than joining this ragtag group of Ruinhunters.
- + Awesome mix of 2D action, exploration, and tower defense gameplay
- + Fantastic characters, graphics, and sound
- + Perfectly implemented learning curve
- - Missing collectibles can be annoying due to reaching points of no return
- - Not as much fun playing solo
- - How come there's no 4 player support?