Previewing Prime World: Defenders

ban 1Undoubtedly the best part about my gig with Pixels or Death is being exposed to things I wouldn’t normally be exposed to (and I’m not just talking about oddities in the corporate bathroom). I doubt I would have given Soul Hackers a shot, but I ended up loving that game.

Lately I’ve been pleasantly surprised with tower defense titles. They’re the kinds of games I typically hate—I find them overly frustrating and pointless. But every once in awhile, one comes along that surprises me in the best ways possible. Right now, that game is Prime World: Defenders.

What grabs you immediately is how wonderful Prime World: Defenders looks—it’s simply gorgeous. Just beyond that, it appears the game is a standard tower defense title. Prime is the most valuable of commodities in the world, and you (the good guys) have to prevent its theft. Place the bombs, build the cannons, stop the trolls . . . you know, the usual.

But easing further into the game unlocks an enormous variety of play mechanics that will scratch almost any strategy itch you’ve got.

For instance, do you fancy card collecting, a la Magic: The Gathering? Well, you’re in luck, because this feels like the primary hook in Prime World: Defenders. You’ll earn or buy cards with new weapons and upgrades, and from there, you can combine those cards to enhance current abilities and forge new weapons.

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You can spend a deceptive amount of time balancing your cards to get just the right enhancement. Prime World: Defenders makes those choices mean something, too; it never feels arbitrary. Each card then represents a particular weapon or magic that you get to take into battle, and based on the enemies in each level, those card configurations will change.

Adding in some light RPG mechanics to further aide leveling, the difficulty scales nicely. There are also some simple design choices that help alleviate frustration should you feel otherwise. For example, additional battles will appear prior to larger events that will essentially let you grind to help level up your stats and card deck.

What’s important is that all of this juggling is fun, and none of it ever seems to overstay its welcome. A few clicks to manage your cards and upgrade your skills, and then it’s time for a battle—nothing too arduous. Avoiding monotony is key for a title like this, and developer Nival has absolutely nailed it.

I don’t revel in the fact that sometimes I have to tell people to skip a title, and thankfully in this case I don’t have to. Prime World: Defenders is a fantastic game with an astounding amount of content for the price. Available for pre-order now, the game launches on May 21st.