Hero Defense – Haunted Island

It’s easy to feel a little bit of “Tower Defense” fatigue, given the number of titles on the market, but there are a lot of good reasons to look into “Hero Defense – Haunted Island. I’m glad I stuck with it, since this title brings a lot of fun mechanics and charm to the table!

The game combines the traits of both tower and hero defense titles in that the player has command of individual heroes that you can freely move and position around the map at any time – but in limited locations.

The learning curve is pretty simple, which is a good thing because the game has a lot of things to pay attention to. Maps start off simple, with single lanes down which monsters will travel. Our first hero is a vampire hunter and deals extra damage to them. Other characters soon join the team, each good at a different task. The second hero to join the team is good at dealing out extra damage to skeletons from a distance, and he also applies a freezing effect. Not only will you need to match heroes against the appropriate monster type but you’ll need to take any special abilities into account. Some vampires might move very quickly, in which case you’ll want to either kill them as fast a possible, or slow them down to deliver the final blow.

As with any good tower defense game, there are lots of things to upgrade – both in and out of battle. Within the game, points are gained that can be used to upgrade a single hero’s power. Outside of the battle, however, you can change exactly what those upgrades will be. Currency can be spent in town to unlock new weapons and runes, and passive upgrades can be added to each hero via a skill tree.

You can revisit old maps you’ve played with additional challenges, and folks who seek to reap all the rewards the game has to offer will certainly want to step up to the plate and try their hand at a few harder levels.

The over atmosphere of the game is laden with fog and darkness. Paired with some classic over-the-top grim dialogue, this makes the game all at once dark and cartoonish in the best kind of way. Even with a little good-natured camp, you’ll find yourself immersed in this grim realm of life or undeath.

That said, one of the only off-putting elements in the game is in the voice acting. Even in a game with cartoonish ghouls and vampires, much of the dialogue still comes off as rigid. The narrator of the intro appears to be voiced by the first character of the game, and there’s really no distinguishing between the two voices as one flows into the next, which leads to a slightly awkward opening. As more voices join the cast it becomes a smoother ride.

Overall, Haunted Island is a very refreshing entry into the “Defense” genre, and one that I truly enjoyed my time with. It’s currently in early access on Steam for the very affordable price of $14.99. It’s available for Windows and is well worth a gander.