Aegis Defenders seeks to bring back the Tower Defense to prominence, or at least less eye-rolling, and frankly – it manages that feat. As Bart (dutiful tinkering grandfather) and Clu (adventuring sharpshooting granddaughter), you’ll uncover a mystery that stretches back eons. Of course, this is accidental, as Bart and Clu really just want to make a living and stop having to dig up the past to sell relics. Aegis Defenders is a wonderful pixelated blend of platformer, RPG, and tower defense that works really well most of the time when its controls don’t get in the way of the fun. This is our Aegis Defenders review for the Nintendo Switch.
The basic gameplay loop is solid. As both Clu and Bart, you run through platforming levels, led by a narrative that tells the tale of forgotten ancient “gods” (the Aegis) and what’s happening with them. It’s a solid story, told deftly with clever dialog boxes, perfect small amounts of voice over to convey emotion and absolutely stellar pixel art and character drawings. The platforming part of the game has you solving puzzles, fighting off enemies, and using each character’s unique skills to make your way to the “boss” of each level. That boss? That’s where the Tower Defense part comes in.
At the end of each level, you’ll be defending some manner of an object and both Clu and Bart have their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their own constructs. Clu can make bombs, spike traps, and so forth. Bart can make turrets and the like. And as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more items that are a combination of items from each. This works REALLY well in Co-Op mode, where Aegis Defenders is best played. But if you’re playing solo, as most probably will, the controls to build these and the muscle memory to swap between characters and do so will be really tricky at times. It verges on frustration, and for me, my own inability to press the right buttons when trying to build my defenses was enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the campaign.
Still, it’s hard not to be enamored with Aegis Defenders. Even if you don’t like Tower Defense in the form of top-down RTS-styled games as its often presented, the seamless mix of platformer and TD works really well here. Its music is fantastic and supportive of the game without detracting from the experience. While I gripe about the controls and how complex playing as a single person can be, I rarely had any issues when playing co-op, which is where the game really shines. Now if only I could get my wife to be better as Bart… because playing as Clu is way more fun.
Aegis Defenders is out now on just about everything, but it plays really well on the Switch which is where I tested it. For $20, I’d say it’s recommended if you’re into Tower Defense or action platforming games even mildly. If they can frustrate you or turn you away, don’t bother. This isn’t up your alley.
Note: Our copy was provided by PR for review purposes.
Compare to: Owlboy, Literally Any Tower Defense, Metroid