Duke of Defense Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Christopher Anselmo, Sebastian Nigro

Published By: Hitcents

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Hitcents for providing a review code

Every so often a new tower defense game slides into existence and it piques my nostalgia. I used to love the tower defense genre and as a child, I played them religiously. Last time I reviewed OTTD and it had lots of content, but wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Now I have been given a second chance to review the genre with the Duke of Defense. It’s time to check out this tower defense title and see how it ranks in the genre.

Story

Duke of Defense doesn’t try to capture your attention with a big, exciting story. You start out in a land that’s in danger from evil forces. The people need a new hero to help defend the land and that’s where you come in. After taking out some goblins with some advice from the former Duke of Defense, you’re passed on the glorious title. Now, as the lands Duke of Defense it’s up to you to protect it from harm.

The story relies on its witty humor that each of the character uses to make the story worth reading. I enjoyed the humor and although it was a bit dry, I can honestly say I did chuckle a few times. Let’s just say the main 3 enemies are evil wizards, but their humor doesn’t make them all that intimidating. Simple and effective humor definitely triumphs here and creates a story that’s worth experiencing.

Gameplay

Duke of Defense is a 2D action tower defense game. For the most part Duke of Defense plays like many in the genre. Levels are chosen by stepping on a specific space in each of the game’s mini overworlds. These overworld’s contain 2 to 3 levels that you can access. They usually also contain a random npc you can talk to that usually has something funny to say.

When you start a chapter you will be given a specific amount of gold, gems and hearts. Gold is used to purchase new towers and gems are required to build certain types of towers. Hearts are the life of your castle. The castle is what you’re desperately trying to defend, because enemies will drain your castles hearts. Once your heart count drops to zero, it’s game over. Along every map there will be trees and it’s where these trees are located that you can build your towers. There’s 9 different towers available, but not all towers can be used right from the start. As you complete levels and progress the story you will get the chance to unlock new towers (sometimes in weird ways). There’s a good variety in towers that range from your basic arrow shooting tower, to fire and ice towers or a tower that shoots bombs. In the center at the top of your screen you’ll also see a changing bar. This bar changes as you come closer to finishing each level.

Every tower can be upgraded to increase their fire rate and range, or their strength and their range depending on the tower. Unlike many tower defense games Duke of Defense doesn’t allow you to use gold to upgrade your towers. No, you actually have to stand on top of your tower for a certain amount of time depending on how many times you’ve already upgraded a tower. If you really need an upgrade you can also spend a precious gem to instantly upgrade any tower. Upgrading towers by having to use time spent at a tower and not gold is a fantastic mechanic that adds a bit more depth to this tower defense title.

What’s different from Duke of Defense compared to others in the genre is your ability to completely control your character. You have full access to move your character around the map and build towers, but also use him to defeat enemies. With your trusty sword you can help your towers take out the incoming forces of evil. Your only two mechanics are attacking and rolling, which both become essential to a successful or failed mission. The roll will help you get out of tough situations, because if a monster runs into you you’ll become temporarily stunned and  some of your gold will be scattered.

Enemies are broken into two categories similar to other tower defense games. Ground enemies can be hit by the player and specific ground towers. Aerial enemies can only be hit by specific aerial defense towers. The enemy variety isn’t huge, but there’s enough differentiation between their attributes. Each one have different weaknesses and strengths.

Every area has a specific boss to fight against that goes against the traditional formula. These wizard bosses involve you running and dodging their attacks, while you gain money to build towers and defeat them. These boss fights are a bit strange and while they’re not they’re kind of underwhelming.

Duke of Defense also offers some minor rpg elements. Some levels will award you with skill points which can be used to unlock an ability from one of three skill tress. Skill trees are broken up between melee, defending/evading and towers. Each skill tree provides meaningful upgrades that i felt really made a difference. If you’re a fan of collecting you can also unlock new heads for your character as you complete more of the story and achieve different milestones. The heads are purely cosmetic so don’t worry too much and use whichever one you like

I wasn’t sure about Duke of Defense at first, but after spending a bit of time with it I found myself really enjoying it. The mix of tower defense, micromanaging and controlling your character blends very well here. Having only your one character to control is great and makes things easy enough to manage.

Extras

If you’re looking to spice things up Duke of Defense offers 2 player local co-op. Local co-op can be a really enjoyable experience if you have a friend that wants to play.

Presentation

Unfortunately, it’s in its presentation that Duke of Defense’s flaws start to reveal. There are man pixel art style games that look fantastic, but this one is fairly mediocre. Character designs look alright, but they’re a little bland and lack features to make them look unique. The enemy design I think was my biggest problem as they just weren’t exciting. All of the enemies looked rather generic or simply not good.

The towers probably look the best out of everything, but even still their attack animations were bland. Also level environments lacked creativity and only had basic design ideas like forest snow and Desert. Duke of Defense doesn’t look outright bad, but it lacks creativity and makes the visuals look mediocre overall. The soundtrack was alright and I did find some enjoyment with some of the tracks.

Technical Issues

Luckily I didn’t experience any technical issues during my playthrough of Duke of Defense.

Summary

Being a big fan of the tower defense genre I had to have high expectations for Duke of Defense. If you can look past the poor visual design Duke of Defense does a terrific job at creating a solid and interesting experience. With a campaign that will last 4-5 hours and local co-op Duke of Defense is a genuinely pleasing tower defense game. I would recommend this to any fans of the genre and as a great entry point for newcomers.

8/10

Pros

  • Really Enjoyable Blend of Tower Defense & Action
  • Enjoyably Witty Story
  • Interesting Way to Upgrade Towers
  • Local Co-Op
  • Skill Tree Has Upgrades That Actually Feel Useful

Cons

  • Mediocre Visual Design
  • Enemies & Character Designs Look Unoriginal
  • Some May Find It a Little Too Short

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