By: Matthew Striplen
If you’re an experienced gamer, chances are high that you’ve encountered a tower defense game. Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault completely revamps the genre, however, to create something truly unique. Get ready to take on fearsome creatures as they beset your prized cities!
Unlike the vast majority of tower defense games, Aegis requires a tremendous amount of real-time user input. All structures are built on a series of rings surrounding your headquarters that can be rotated at will. Weapons will target and fire automatically but only within a certain range. Enemies appear from all sides, so it’s important to be able to react quickly to multiple threats.
Rotating the rings is simple, but mastering them tasks a little practice. Building additional structures is equally easy. A large crane appears over the city, which the player can then use to select a plot of land. Just choose the building you want and, provided you have enough resources, voila! Your new structure is already complete.
Aegis‘ graphics are simple but get the job done. The game’s characters, which are shown in visual novel style, are of the generic anime variety. During battle, each weapon has a different range, which is represented on the battlefield by a red rectangle. However, if more than one weapon is pointed in the same direction, only the larger range will be displayed, so make sure you keep tabs on the location of each individual weapon. Learning what each weapon looks like takes some time, as their names will not be displayed in combat.
Music is exciting and features a very large instrumentation. That being said, the compositions don’t quite have the personality to stick with the listener. Since the game features a decent amount of story, every character has tons of voice acting, though certain sections are inexplicably missing full voicing. Most performances are quite strong, lending each character a distinct, if generic, personality.
As explained above, Aegis switches up the tower defense formula by having the player control a city surrounded by enemies. Gameplay is split between real-time battles and a planning mode. Battles follow the same basic formula, but the constant additions of new enemies and weapons prevent the game from ever getting stale.
Players are rewarded with money, resources and new citizens after each successful attack, all of which are critical to the city’s upkeep. Money and resources can be spent to buy new structures, upgrade existing ones or developing new alternatives. The large quantity and variety of the unlockable buildings/weapons is one of Aegis‘ greatest strengths.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have much to offer, as the characters are largely a collection of anime stereotypes. Their antics are silly and entertaining at best, and annoying or boring at worst, but they don’t detract too much overall.
Each character does, however, play a vital role as a member of your crew. Everyone has different abilities and skills to assist you in battle, and the cast expands greatly as you progress. As your crew faces more combat, they will accrue experience and eventually level up, but be careful since they also feel fatigue, which is expressed in lower focus, health and performance in battle.
As their commander, it’s possible to give out a special bonus to the best showing of the fight, which gives extra EXP, and a boost to both focus and health to one crew member. It’s up to you to manage your unruly team and keep them happy and healthy.
Keeping your city’s residents happy is also very important. Each victory raises the overall happiness level, but damage and civilian deaths bring the number down, and higher happiness means more residence applications after each battle.
A higher population also means more money will be collected in taxes at the end of each battle. Taxes make up the vast majority of the player’s income, so take good care of your people. Money is also earned in bonuses from your commanding officer, but taxes will always be your main source.
After keeping your first city, Kimberley, safe for a while, your superiors will take notice and reward you with command of another entire city. These cities have slightly different configurations, but they can all be adjusted in the planning mode.
Since Aegis has a hefty amount of dialogue, there are quite a few cutscenes. Most of them can be skipped, but a few sequences repeat after every battle cycle and may or may not be skippable. These informational scenes can be very helpful in the early stages but become a nuisance later on.
Aegis also has a wonderfully paced difficulty curve. Battles start out short and unthreatening, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Tougher enemy swarms become unlocked as you level up, so be ready.
If you’re not ready to brave the fury of a high-level attack, Aegis offers a handful of missions, often with different difficulties. Certain missions come as special requests, which usually earn you a higher reward than a standard one.
Make sure to keep an eye on the “Altenite” meter. As it increases, the likelihood of a boss encounter skyrockets. Once you surpass 800, a brutal fight is almost guaranteed. These bosses come in all shapes and sizes, but all pack a serious punch and are definitely a highlight of the game.
Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault breathes new life into a classic genre. It reinvents practically every aspect of the genre while remaining a tower defense game. While the gameplay is consistently stellar, the story is a bit lackluster, but that should not deter anyone from giving this title a try. Although Aegis is not a perfect game, its strengths greatly outweigh its flaws and delivers the best tower defense game in years.