Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Army of Darkness Defense Review

Army of Darkness Defense is the first game that ever convinced me to buy in-game money. Not Farmville, not Team Fortress 2, but rather a defense game about fending off never-ending waves of enemies. It pulls you in with easy gameplay and movie quotes then yanks the rug out with a brick wall difficulty curve.

You play as Ash defending the Necronomicon. Each level begins with a sound bite from Army of Darkness then you move Ash up and down the level to fight skeletons. Your iron stash slowly fills as you play and that gets spent on troops. Enemies drop money, which buys upgrades, and you can probably guess the rest. Every troop is a reference to somebody in the movie and you re-enact the final battle over and over with steadily increasing number of enemies per fight.

What’s interesting about this game is that it’s an example of how microtransactions affect the way the game flows. I don’t think I died in the game until Wave 30 or so, and then I just had to start being more careful. There’s a bunch of different attacks, troops and defenses you can dump your money into while this is going on but I got by just spamming swordsmen and Ash’s special attacks. This is all taking place in a 2-D plane so really there isn’t much strategy to it.

All that changes on Wave 50 when the difficulty curve spikes right into your face. You get to keep the money you make even if you die in a level, so you can keep playing even when you’re stuck like this. You scrape money together and buy upgrades, but Wave 50 was so much harder that the spam tactics I’d been using couldn’t even put a dent in it. All the troops I’d been neglecting had to be upgraded and all the defenses needed to be at Max.

Stuck in an airport, obsessed with this little defense game, I realized I’d have to keep grinding for hours to get up to speed. And for just five bucks I could save myself an hour of grinding and finally beat this last boss. Army of Darkness Defense was so good I was willing to pay money to have it end.

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