Yet another game has taken me on a roller coaster ride of emotions in recent weeks. When I first saw Prime World: Defenders (PWD), the combination of tower defense and a collectible card game sounded like peanut better and chocolate to me: a match made in heaven. Why hadn’t I thought of it before, putting two of the most addicting things in the world together? I was enthusiastic about the possibilities. Then I played a preview build of PWD and well, let me explain.
The slow rise to the top of the hill...
After the couple of missions of the game‘s campaign, I found myself less than enthusiastic about the game. Sure, it was an incredibly solid (and gorgeous) tower defense game, but the mechanics hadn‘t introduced me to anything I hadn‘t seen before. I had a selection of towers, which came in the form of cards that I won in battle and resources known as prime that I spent in order to spawn them on the battlefield. It was fun, but I had seen this all before. Where was the originality? What good were cards if you were just going to hand them out after each battle? Then, in a matter of a couple of missions, everything changed.sudden;y I saw the magic that is PWD!
As I learned during my first hour or so with the game, developer Nival has nailed the core concepts of the genre. The game plays out like a traditional tower defense. you have limited resources that you can spend on towers to gear up your defenses to protect your base. Additional resources, called prime, can be earned both by defeating enemies and by destroying deposits found throughout the battlefield. You’ve been here, you know how to play this game. However, shortly after that brief period of familiarity, the game will begin pitching curve balls to you in the form of the collectible card game elements, which take the experience into a whole new direction.
..and the exhilarating decent on the other side!
Your tower selection is dictated by a collection of cards that you will earn in battle. Early on, these will simply be handed to you for completing stages; that seems lackluster, but soon you will discover that you can fuse and evolve the cards in your collection to craft new and rare offering that will completely change your game. This is where the joy of the game comes: experimentation. Fuse together your simple arrow cannon with a poison tower and craft poison darts. That simple selection of towers starts growing very, very quickly as soon as you get this ability.
Being a collectible card game, you are likely to find yourself in possession of duplicates. Normally, duplicate cards are a curse as you always seem to amass numerous crappy cards regardless of your CCG of choice. In PWD, duplicates are a good thing! Multiple copies of the same card can be combined to create a stronger version of the card in question. Combining two simple towers makes a stronger version of said tower, and perhaps gives it a special ability or enables upgrade options on it. It is a unique and interesting way to deal with what would normally be the bane of a CCG.
Evolution is a good thing
In addition to earning new cards, you will also earn experience points and gold that you can use to strengthen your arsenal. These can be spent towards unlocking traits that the game refers to as “talents”. These dictate things such as damage bonuses for your towers and the amount of cards you can take into battle. There are three categories of talents: prime (effect your resource gathering and stat bonuses related to them), technical (dictate the number of towers you can possess and damage boosters), and magic (magical spells and abilities to help you in battle and experience buffers). This, combined with the star-rating system present on the game’s levels, gives you reason to go back and replay earlier levels both for additional experience and to earn that coveted three-star rating on every stage. The game also hands out a variety of bonuses post battle in the form of extra coins and experience. These are awarded for things like sending waves ahead of schedule and completing runs without letting any enemies through.
The game launches on Steam next week and tower defense fans will definitely want to check it out. It may take the game a little bit to get rolling but once it does, it takes off at a breakneck pace. Stick with the game through the first couple of missions and you will see that there is a lot to love in PWD. I have barely scratched the surface of the game’s campaign but find myself super excited to dig even further. I cannot wait to get the full version of the game when it launches on June 5. Be sure to watch out for our full review of the complete game coming very soon!