First Impressions is a regular feature in which Mary shares her -surprise! – first impressions of a game she’s been playing while she should have been making comics.

After enjoying the crap out of the iPhone tower defense games GeoDefense Swarm and Field Runners, I just had to try Defender Chronicles. It gets great reviews on the app store, and I’ve heard a lot of good things, like that it combines the genres of RPG and tower defense. Awesome! Right?

Defender Chronicles Screen

Well, I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. I hate to start off with the negative, but I prefer to relate my first impressions as they unfolded. For those of you unfamiliar with tower defense games, I’ll give a brief run down of this sub-genre of real time strategy. Enemies enter a map from one and often several points on a map. Their goal is to get past your gate (and often more than one gate), and you have to prevent them from doing so by placing defensive towers on the map. The towers zap, shoot, explode, or otherwise unleash destructive forces on the mobs. You can usually buy these towers with money that you earn whenever you kill an enemy, and there are usually a few towers with various abilities and ranges to choose from, along with upgrade options for each. In the case of Defender Chronicles, the towers take on the form of archers, mages, and warriors (and perhaps yet unlocked classes).

So my biggest disappointment with Defender Chronicles is that I have to place the towers, or in this case, “defenders,” on predetermined spots. I realize there must be other TD games that do this, but I haven’t played them yet. Placing towers in positions that force the enemies into a long maze is a key strategy in GeoDefense Swarm and Field Runners, and one that I really enjoy. So taking that choice away from me in Defender Chronicles just left me a little…bored. All I have to do is figure out which defenders to build in which predetermined spots, and when and how much to upgrade them.

The game quickly gets harder a couple levels in, and I must admit that hooked me a little. I could feel the tower defense addiction sucking me in! So I’ll give it that. And the RPG elements are nice and add some customization. For instance, as I level up, I can put skill points in the the different defender types, which would affect my choice for what I should build. And when I finish a map I get some messages telling me about cool stuff I unlocked. I haven’t explored any of that “cool stuff,” but unlocking any kind of stuff is generally pretty addicting for me.

I doubt I’ll finish the Defender Chronicles, but now that I’m used to the fact that it really is a different take from the other TD iPhone games I enjoyed, I’ll probably play a few more levels.

Of course, I’ll have to try Plants vs. Zombies now, which was finally released in iPhone form yesterday.