Duke of Defense
Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Christopher Anselmo & Sebastion Nigro
Published By: Hitcents
Category: Tower Defense
Release Date: 06.20.2019

Whenever I start playing a Tower Defense game I get this sense of excitement, and am immediately taken back to my middle school days playing Bloons Tower Defense on Ninja Kiwi. This genre just brings on the nostalgia of not paying attention in computer class, and that gives me the fuzziest of feelings. Duke of Defense continues this storied legacy with the newest Tower Defense addition to the Nintendo Switch. These titles are few and far between these days, but the ones at the top really are high shelf with their offerings. With how they meld smaller gameplay experiences with intense strategy in a real-time setting, you really get a unique experience with this genre. This title brings a lot of excitement, and high expectations for me, and this is one you may want to discover more about if you are a fan of Tower Defense games. 

This title starts with a quirky cast of characters who are pushing for the protagonist to protect the kingdom from the classic set of Dungeons and Dragons baddies (goblins, ogres, etc.). You start out meeting a mysterious, robed stranger who teaches you the basics of the gameplay loop, and then you are thrust into his throne as the newest Duke of Defense. Save the peasants and help the kingdom. 

The main gameplay loop for this title consists of entering various maps and stages and building up towers to replace the trees that litter the screen. Placement and tower type are the main strategics you will do in this stage, and making sure towers can maximize damage with their reach, and using the correct type of towers for the enemies is crucial. You have general towers that launch arrows, anti-air towers for those pesky flying minions, and various other specialty towers that shoot electricity, bombs, or lay down paths of fire. All of this combines for the most common way you will stop the plight on the kingdom and protect the castle from the onslaught. You also have the ability to stand on the towers that you build in order to slowly upgrade them. Upgrades include things like range and fire rate increases that are vital for making sure your defenses hold back the hordes. Beyond that you also have the ability to face your foes yourself with your mighty swing. However, this isn’t the strongest of defenses, as it takes a good while for you to be able to stand up very well against the incoming attackers. 

This is done through the games RPG mechanic skill tree. You have the ability to upgrade certain aspects of your building, attacking, and agility. In this tree you can make your attack stronger or allow yourself to attack airborne characters in the attack tier, upgrade roll speed and pickup distance in agility, or increase the speed in which you build or have towers drop gold every so often in the building tier. These tiers are upgraded through gaining ability points which are rewarded for beating levels throughout the single player story campaign. 

This brings us to the crux of your building pleasure; the necessity of gold. Enemies drop gold when killed and you are awarded gold with each wave of enemies you successfully defeat. Do this and you will gain the momentum necessary to build to your hearts content, and allow for some serious damage output. 

When you combine all of these things you have your overall gameplay and strategy that will take you throughout the title. You must decide if you want to focus attack for your character and gain the majority of your gold that way while sacrificing tower upgrades, or abandon attacking altogether and focusing on tower building and upgrades that increase tower attack output while you are upgrading them. You can take this game down a few different paths, and it adds some flavor to the basic place unit and move on structure of most other titles in the Tower Defense genre. 

The game also offers a co-op function where you take all of the TD goodness you have discovered so far and just add a friend to increase the fun two-fold. The game is great fun, and is a welcome addition to the world of couch co-op, and I give a serious recommendation to try out this mode if you are a fan of the game as a whole. 

So the game is well done, and it contains most of what genre-lovers will be yearning for, however there are a couple of downsides to this title. The graphics are a pixel art style, which for most indie game fans won’t be an issue in the slightest, but is something I feel like is worth mentioning for those who are looking for top notch graphics and realistic looks. Also, the game is pretty short, only taking a couple of hours to complete through the story, but even so I found myself a little bored with the loop towards the end. I find in games like this you are playing through a pretty monotonous pace, and this title doesn’t do a lot to add flavor to a loop that is very same-sy. You have some cosmetics you unlock for your characters, and the addition of a few new towers as you progress, but other than the difficulty increase you aren’t going to find something to blow your mind for the long game. With that said, if you like this gameplay style then you won’t find this to be an issue either, and the game is well built and designed for what it is. This title is great for drop-in-drop-out gameplay, where you kill a level or two and take a break before bed, but might be something lang haulers won’t take as kindly to. 

I found myself really enjoying my time with Duke of Defense. You have a game that is going for the basics of the Tower Defense genre, and shines in making those work well. A couple of niceties, and some interesting characters and story allow for an extra flavor here and there, but overall lack of depth or change to get you through the monotony and a short game overall make for a title that I can recommend highly to someone looking to scratch that TD itch, but for people who aren’t fans of the genre, or get bored easily this might be something you can pass up for now. 


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