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Game Info:

Hero Defense - Haunted Island
Developed By: Happy Tuesday
Published By: Happy Tuesday
Released: May 31, 2016
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action, Tower Defense
ESRB Rating: RP (Rating Pending)
Number of Players: Single player and online multiplayer
MSRP: $14.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Happy Tuesday for sending a review copy of this game!

Hero Defense - Haunted Island is a tower defense style game with the twist of placing 5 heroes instead of deploying many different towers. The heroes are all unique and can be placed anywhere on the map and moved around at will. While the game has a horror/Halloween theme it's fairly lighthearted in its presentation.

When I first fired up this game I wondered if this was a special Halloween Edition of the game. It genuinely looks like a normal tower defense game with a Halloween skin slapped on it. The game uses a cartoony artstyle that is executed well but conflicts with the tone of the game. The dialogue and story are fairly cliche, but the colorful characters didn't mesh well with the bland narrative. It really is a paint-by-numbers story and some of the references are so overt I had to roll my eyes.The voice acting is stunted and doesn't really fit the lighter aesthetic either. These are fairly minor complaints though because the gameplay is solid.

Hero Defense - Haunted Island
Highlights:

Strong Points: Unique tower defense gameplay; deep upgrade systems; lots of replayability
Weak Points: Story is bland and cliche; online modes are dead due to lack of players
Moral Warnings: Magic used by player; zombies and other undead monsters; overt occult references

Story mode consists of unlocking different maps, one at a time, with interspersed dialogue and cutscenes. The maps are well designed and they each offer a few different paths for enemies to move through. Each mission starts by selecting one hero and placing them on the map. Heroes can be moved at any time, to almost any part of the map. However, the hero has to physically run to each new spot, so it takes some time. You're encouraged to do strategic movement and positioning of heroes to take advantage of choke points and special buffs. Each hero is best suited to fighting a certain type of enemy, such as zombies, werewolves or vampires. Heroes also have special abilities; for example, Barrows can slow down monsters' movement speed. As you kill more creatures you'll be able to place more heroes on the map or level up heroes you're already using. Enemies come in waves, and each wave is a single type of enemy that's color coded to the hero that's strong against it. After a set number of waves make their way through their various winding paths there's a boss minion. In typical tower defense fashion, the boss has much more health than standard creatures and requires some additional strategy to take down. Really the entire mission requires a careful dance of where to most effectively position your heroes.

After completing a mission you head back to town and upgrade your buildings and heroes. Each hero has a skill tree that you choose upgrades from as well as rune slots. The rune system lets you choose different abilities that are activated when a hero is leveled up during a mission. It can be a bit confusing at first because you're essentially leveling up in two places, but the game does an adequate job of explaining these systems. You can also upgrade certain buildings in the town in order to expand the number of abilities available for your heroes. Truly, this is a game for people who like micromanaging lots of things.

Hero Defense - Haunted Island
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 74%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

I do have to commend the game on having a lot of content both for the price and for being a tower defense title. There's a lot of replayability because you can go back to previous levels and replay them on a harder difficulty to get more rewards. A lot of the rare runes are obtained by going back and replaying the levels in a more challenging way. This can feel like a grind if you want a specific rune and the level is especially challenging. There is also multiplayer support with leaderboards, but I tried on two occasions, for 30 minutes each time, and could not find any multiplayer action. So I don't know how any of that works and sadly I doubt new players will have better luck. Thankfully the breadth of single-player content makes up for this.

As I stated earlier this is an obstinately Halloween themed game and includes a lot of horror movie features and tropes such as zombies, vampires, and werewolves. One of the heroes is a little red-haired girl named Sam Hain, a clear reference to the pagan festival of the same name. There's a couple lines of dialogue that reference seances and rituals. Magic is used throughout the game by the heroes and in powerups. The game does have a lighter, cartoony artstyle but there is still some blood present in the game.

Hero Defense - Haunted Island is a solid entry into the tower defense genre with enough of a gameplay twist to keep it interesting from start to finish. The story is bland and cliche but that's easy to overlook, honestly. I'm disappointed that the multiplayer is effectively dead, but that's a function of the playerbase being small and not the developer abandoning the game, like other companies have done.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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