Hell Warders

Now in Beta, with a full release planned for June, Hell Warders is a mashup of tower defense and wave-based third person survival combat. Given its very early state, there are a limited number of maps or heroes to play with, but it's pretty clear what Ares Games is getting at.

As with most tower defense and wave based games, players have a pre-combat set up phase in which to place defensive units such as archers and turrets and to position their team members if playing in coop. While there is no countdown clock before the first phase, set-up phases between rounds are more frantic as the next wave will be coming with ever increasing numbers and strength. Defensive units change between waves. Players must collect the units available and then position them as needed. Of course they can be re-positioned during battle as well.

At this point in release, players may choose between three heroes, with more promised later. Ash is a melee fighter, Dead Eye is a expert with firearms, and there is a magic user. All heroes earn points and can be leveled up, with new abilities to unlock along the way.

As a single player experience, Hell Warders is pretty frustrating as it is nearly impossible for one player to dash around the map and dispatch those enemies that have thwarted the defenses, all the while trying to collect power ups and healing items and move defensive units. Unlike some tower defense games that seem to dole out waves of enemies in escalating numbers or strength, Hell Warders assumes that there will be a number of human players in the mix and so even very early waves consist of many enemies of varying types, with hulking mini-bosses appearing as early as the second wave. As numerous and powerful as the enemies can be, however, they aren't especially smart. 

The Beta offers two stages, a desert-themed environment and a floating castle-like structure. Environmental and dynamic hazards such as dust storms, lava, and falling add complications to survival and movement. The art direction of both the heroes and enemies has a Dark Souls-like quality, emphasizing over-sized armor and many varieties of hellish creatures. Melee combat is pretty flaccid, with little weight or impact and an overall feeling of imprecision. Although controller support is promised it doesn't seem to be implemented yet, and there are only a few settings to tweak right now. 

Combing tower defense with Dark Souls inspired heroes and enemies seems like a solid idea. At this early stage, there isn't enough game to make a call on the success of the project. What is there suggests a game in need of balancing for a wide variety of situations, from a lone player to a full, four-person coop team. Additional heroes and maps will certainly add content but Hell Warders still needs lots of polish and some major tweaks before its full release.