Fans of PC Tower Defense titles may have heard of Prime World: Defenders [Free]. Originally released back in mid-2013, this 3D TD title made a splash offering a complete TD experience supplemented with aspects from a few other genres. Nearly a year later, Defenders finally makes its debut on iOS, a platform that should (in theory) fit it perfectly. While iOS TD aficionados will easily see that Defenders was obviously designed for the PC, it’s still a great title for fans of the genre.

Combining card collection, role playing mechanics and tower defense mechanisms, Defenders is highly reminiscent of the recent released Man At Arms TD [$4.99 (HD)], but with different emphases on its respective systems. The RPG mechanic features a simplified leveling system with a wealth of talents that can be purchased with in-game currency to add some strategic nuance. Meanwhile, the actual TD mechanics are fairly standard in terms of enemy and tower types, strengths, weaknesses and so on. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable, but genre buffs looking for the next great innovation should explore elsewhere. Recently, the game was updated with additional modes, including a survival map, which adds more meat that supplements the game's campaign.

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The card collection facet, meanwhile, is the deepest aspect of the game and the one that gives Defenders the majority of its breadth of content. Each tower that can be deployed is collected as a card. There are two methods to improving cards: Evolution and Fusion. Evolution allows players to combine cards of the same type together to unlock greater evolution levels, which dictate strength and upgrade paths. Meanwhile, cards can also be fused with different types of cards to increase their base level (support cards are primarily used for such fusions) or to create entirely new cards. Completing missions reward in-game currency and random cards, so use of both upgrade paths is imperative to keeping up with the difficulty.

Every part of Defenders has been seen before in some shape or form, but the game does a great job of merging them together into a cohesive game. Primary TD levels are accompanied by “random” encounters of varying difficulties that can be run to grind currency and new cards. There’s a decent amount of tower types and there’s enough variety in map design that tower selection is somewhat important. While there’s plenty of IAP in terms of currency (premium and otherwise), I found it all to be highly optional in terms of getting through the game. The story, told mainly through cutscenes, isn’t particularly groundbreaking but I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to continue playing to follow the tale.

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‘Not particularly groundbreaking’ is a trend that follows a lot of aspects of Defenders. The card system is implemented well, but we’ve seen it before. The 3D visuals are certainly a strong suit, but it’s obvious that the game was designed for desktop as the tower placement grid can become confusing on smaller iOS devices. Native iOS gamers will notice that the game in general doesn’t control like a game designed for iOS, but it’s still playable nonetheless. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier the actual TD mechanics are pretty barebones. This isn’t surprising as most TD games all play the same. However, the emphasis on grinding out cards means folks might get tired of the gameplay a bit quicker than other titles.

As a cohesive adventure, Prime World: Defenders is probably the most well-rounded tower defense game I’ve seen in awhile. Collecting tower cards is fun as always and there’s enough variety in terms of story and missions to keep you playing. It may not be the most original game in this day and age, but TD fans are familiar with such words. Suffice to say, if you are such a fan you owe it to yourself to check out Defenders.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Oka-mi

    Am I the only one baffled by such a nice-looking game having such an ugly, bland icon? I wouldn't have given it a second look if not for the review...

    • Adams Immersive

      I like the game art and I like the icon art... but they don't match at all! Weird.

    • Alex Mesu

      I'd rather put the focus on the poorly balance waves / maps.
      I love the game but it's ridiculous at some points it relies too much on micro transactions and even those are luck based.
      Would love to see more balancing.

  • shadax

    $4.99 and tons of IAP for a game that's "not particularly ground breaking".

    No thanks.

    • Pivi

      That's my main concern too, unless the premium currency is ONLY for making the game super easy.

      • Hottar

        None of the iaps are required to complete the game. The same cards can be "bought" via gambling with gold and medals. You get both currencies by playing.
        Due to the nature of card based games you might have to grind a lot to get the card you are looking for or you might get lucky on the first try.
        I have played almost all td games on the app store since its my favourite genre on ipad. This is a high value production and a solid tower defense game, easily one of the top 10 TD games on the app store.

  • bigjack66

    I'm not a great fan of TD games but this is a good one the graphics definitely caught my eye but the gameplay kept me interested. Sure it's not original but what is these days? The towers are some of the best looking I've seen! I've not had any difficulties the map is rotatable ind you can zoom in and out. The cards are a nice addition and not once have I felt the need for iaps.

    • kjmathew

      But what about the "grinding" this review and App Store reviews mention? For me, "grinding" = IAP paywall, even if I eventually climb that wall like in some other games, by the time I do I'm always too tired to play anymore. Some paywalls are just too high for non-hardcore love, not to say I'm a casual gamer at all.

      • Hottar

        There is NO paywall in this game, iaps are ONLY needed if you want to finish the game without resistance or having any fun ;)
        The grind is part of the mechanics and how this game is played. Even if there were no iaps the grind element would still be there, thats the nature of card based games and games that rely on chance and random loot.
        Even "crap" cards you get are not totally useless since you can use them to power up other cards.
        You also get a gift everytime once a day, you will get both rare and unique cards this way. So if you really hate grinding you could get the game and then just collect the gifts for a week or two and then start playing (you would be overpowered though).

      • Alex Mesu

        I strongly believe this game is not balanced enough.
        Even with 3x level on the highest rating cards and I still have serious problems on certain maps.
        Am I the only one that finds the Mortar to be the only good ground tower?

  • Zenfar

    Added to watch list looks amazing!

  • orangecan

    Good review but I would say I've never had any issues with tower placement or positioning on the touch 5g and I don't think I would have guessed it wasn't developed for iOS.
    There is a fairly high level of grinding involved and while I must admit I didn't quite get into it at first I've grown to really enjoy it. I'd say a similar level of grind to men at arms if anyone has played that.

    The one thing I would add is that I've had a lot of crashes since the last update which annoyingly has led to entire levels progress being lost.....

    • orangecan

      Forgot to say I agree the icon looks shite.

      • Hottar

        Yeah, the game is good. The icon is shite.

  • Jake7905

    This review absolutely nails it, with only one small mistake. Fusing and evolving cards never give you a new card, just a strengthened version of the starting card. It's more of an upgrade system fueled by in-game currency; you're definitely not crafting new things here.

  • pseudoart

    I played this to death on PC. It is highly addictive with the chance of new cards etc. however, nothing new in the iOS version, so I'm not inclined to buy it here as well. I must say, though, that if the IAP is structured the same way as on the PC, it's very much optional. It just reduces the amount of grinding you need to do in order to proceed deep in the game.

  • bigjack66

    Where's endless mode I can't find it!

    • Jake7905

      I'm having the same problem.

      • 61050

        me three. im guessing maybe after you beat the campaign or something. either way, ive been hooked on this for quite a while now and still play it daily. i think this is maybe the fourth time ever that ive bought an iap that didnt involve an unlock full game or removal of ads.

  • monkeyboner

    Why can I find this on the AppStore? Even the direct link from TA turns up nothing. I also get the same problem with Faraway Kingdom :(

Defenders Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4