I'm no stranger to tower defense games by any means, so diving into Anomaly Defenders was familiar territory. 11 Bit Studios is known for their unorthodox approach to the genre. Previous Anomaly games made their presence known by completely flipping the basic mechanics tower defense games are built upon - defense. Prior to Anomaly Defenders, you played as humans on the offensive instead of playing the alien's defensive role. 11 Bit Studios decided to revert back to the traditional ways of the genre with their third entry. This decision seems to be a step in the wrong direction simply because the series' foundation was so unique. With that said, Defenders isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it just leaves you wanting more.
Unlike previous Anomaly games, Defenders has toned down the story making it basically non-existent. If you aren't familiar with the previous games, the only thing to know is that you are an alien fighting a war against the human race who is relentlessly attacking your base. Fans of the series may see this as a disappointment because the story from the previous games isn't moved forward in any substantial way. I too felt disappointed by the lack of the story because it made Defenders' 24 missions feel more like separate, individual missions that shared no relation with each other. The campaign would benefit greatly were it more immersive by letting the player know why he or she is at war with the humans. If that was the case, every mission would push the story forward in a plot driven campaign. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but Defenders' predecessors contained a story, making the lack of plot here a bit of a let down.
The missions usually range between 5-20 minutes depending on difficulty and your skill. Like any other tower defense game, the objective is to take out all attackers before they destroy you. An easy task in theory but not always in practice. There are a sufficient amount of defense tools to build in order to accomplish this goal. Initially, you'll start off with the basic upgradable towers until stronger towers, such as scorchers, stormers, enforcers, and behemoths, are made available. Depending on the difficulty level and how well you defend your base, "Technology Points" are awarded and used to upgrade your towers and basic defense for further missions. 11 Bit Studios has implemented a "Technology Tree" that serves as a skill tree. There are approximately 80 upgrades you can apply to your base. You can buy new towers or level up current towers to make them stronger by increasing attack ranges, critical hit chances, and damage. The tech tree allows you to customize your defenses the way you see fit. During missions there are pre-placed sections on the map that you build your defenses on. In order to build towers or upgrade your defenses in battle you will need to earn/spend "Carusaurum" points. These points can be gathered by building a harvester or destroying the human invaders.
Defenders has pretty unique map layouts. Early in the game enemies will use one avenue of approach to destroy your base but as you get into higher levels there are multiple paths for enemies to take. This encourages you to think strategically and ensure your defenses are placed appropriately to counter multiple enemies approaching from multiple areas simultaneously. Building towers and upgrading them to the fullest will be futile if you don't place them in strategic areas of the map. The maps themselves will sometimes be a threat. On some maps meteors will crash down on your base or lighting will strike it. It is important to plan accordingly when this happens.
It seems like Defenders purposely goes easy on you until you grow complacent. Luckily, when things get out of hand you can pause the game, assess the situation and while still paused, queue your next few moves. This helped me countless times while playing. To my dismay, occasionally I grew confident enough in my defenses to fast forward the game just to get a huge slap on the face when a gigantic wave of human attackers quickly bombarded me at once. Needless to say I clicked my pause button even quicker to gather myself. This is useful and can help you minimize damages to your towers because things will surely get hectic at times and you don't want to find out the hard way like I did.
I enjoyed the time I spent playing Anomaly Defenders but I really didn't feel compelled to replay any portions of it. Defenders, unlike the previous titles, doesn't do much to innovate or recreate the genre. Instead 11 Bit Studios decided to play it safe and gave us a basic, traditional tower defense game that is fun but doesn't really do anything to set itself apart from an already flooded market.