Prime World: Defenders, An In-Depth Review

8.7 TCG RATING
Gameplay: 9/10
Sounds: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10

Blends two genres in an innovative way. | Reasonable in-app purchase prices.

Can feel like a grind in the early parts of the game.

iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Facebook, PC, Mac

Free to play, with in-app purchases.

June 1,2013

English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian

Prime World: Defenders is a free-to-play, 3D, Tower Defense game mixed with the card evolution and upgrade mechanics seen in popular digital CCGs. In Prime World: Defenders, you fight off hordes of the Touched (mutant creatures) that were created by a cataclysmic world event. You join a group of brave Treasure Hunters who have dared to venture into an ancient capital to seek out relics and artifacts. Who can resist treasure, fame, and fortune?

Is Prime World: Defenders’ mix of genres well executed, or just an ugly mutant in disguise? Read on to find out…

An-impressive-title-screen

Prime World: Defenders aims to impress from the very beginning. Not only is the title screen amazing, but the story is told in a comic book style that really engages the reader, thanks to its excellent narrative.

GAMEPLAY

Prime World: Defenders offers a standardized Tower Defense experience mixed with some traditional CCG elements. Towers are cards that can be evolved or fused together to create more powerful versions of themselves which is the unique aspect here. The game also features a light RPG element as a story driven campaign with a somewhat linear path. All of this combines into a solid gameplay experience with plenty of enjoyment.

After some brief tutorial missions, we are given the freedom to explore the game a little further. The campaign is a rather linear affair with the addition of a few grinding missions of varying difficulty that I used to gain more XP (experience points) and Coins (in-game currency). During the mission briefing screen we can see the mix of Touched that we will encounter, allowing us to customize our Tower line-up appropriately.

In order to deploy a Tower, you need a resource called Prime. Different Towers are needed for a variety of different enemies and mission scenarios. They can only be deployed at set points across the battlefield, so strategic placement is necessary on some of the harder missions. Across the map there are ancient Prime Totems that can be destroyed for Prime and to also free up a space for a Tower. There are some special icons across the field that can increase specific attributes of a Tower such as: attack power, rate of fire, or firing distance.

Getting-crazy

Enemies come in different shapes and sizes. The only issue I had was that higher grade units of the same type are only distinguished by color. It feels a little lazy to not have them look more elite than their weaker counterparts and some colorblind players may have some issues here.

The enemies are a mixed bag of slow, fast, flying, and tough units that should be familiar to any regular TD players. Prime is awarded for each Touched killed. There is little in the way of innovative gameplay or features, but it doesn’t matter all that much as the game plays well enough without them. During the course of a mission, the enemies come out in waves and you have the option of calling forth the next wave instantly. When you do this you are rewarded with more Prime that can be used to build or upgrade Towers.

Overall your goal is to protect either Runestones or a Prime repository that your crew of hunters are collecting from. Your health is in the top right of the screen and for every Touched that enters the Runestone or takes your Prime, you lose a health point. Stronger enemies will do larger amounts of damage to your health, but this is compensated by them being slower or having reduced health. Faster enemies are the ones you need to watch for if you’ve got a field full of slow-firing Towers. With each victory comes rewards in the form of Coins and cards, and the relief of knowing that you’ve survived the seemingly endless waves of enemies. Phew!!

Its-a-world-map

The world map is where you can pick your battles, visit the store, forge more powerful cards, increase your talents, or edit your arsenal from the collection screen. I like how everything is in one place as this makes it easier to access all the different screens quickly.

MODES AND FEATURES

Prime World: Defenders’ story has limited replay value outside of trying to complete each mission with the maximum of three stars (based on performance) or obtaining the bonuses from special completion requirements. There is a survival mode, but this is probably more for those who want to keep playing beyond the campaign.

The game has a great deal to offer, both as a free-to-play experience and as a premium-play model. I was able to play though the game without hitting any obvious pay walls. Completing harder missions with three stars did get increasingly difficult, but I never had to replay a mission too many times before finding the optimum strategy. I was also very appreciative of the fact that I could replay missions for some extra Coins and the chance to obtain new cards. I was equally impressed that the premium offerings were reasonably priced. The shop is vastly accessible for those small micro-transactions.

When you are lucky enough to get some Relics or duplicate cards, you can take them to the Forge in order to power up your current collection. Within the Forge you have two options: Evolution and Fusion. Evolution uses a Tower or Spell card and uses Relics or other Tower/Spell cards to increase the level of the card. Increasing the level will ultimately make a Tower more powerful through attack strength or duration of effect. Fusion will fuse two of the same card together to create a ‘ranked up’ card. This will enable you to pay for an upgrade ‘cost’ on that Tower during battle for it to essentially double in its damage or effect potential.

My-collection

The collection screen is where you can edit your selected Towers and Magic for battle. Artifacts can add power to these when fused with them via the Forge.

DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY

In Prime World Defenders you can customize your selection of Towers through the Collection screen. Here you can swap them in and out through a couple of taps on the screen. When the number of Towers you own is large enough, you can sort them by rarity, getting you to your higher powered Towers quickly and with minimal fuss.

I found that because the maps are randomly generated for some of the missions, I had to swap between Towers on a frequent basis. I would have liked to been able to bring a pre-made loadout of Towers dependent upon the enemies I would face in that level.

Some missions have very limited empty slots for Towers to be placed. If there are Prime Totems in the area, ensure you go for them as soon as possible. This not only rewards you with more Prime, but you will have another empty slot for another Tower. There are also special Totems that can heal or speed up the Touched, so I would go after those at the earliest opportunity. Remember that those Towers will still be useful later on in the mission when the waves come out faster and stronger.

I found that Fusing the Towers is of particular importance. I needed to upgrade them in order to make the earlier missions easier, thus letting me earn the special completion bonuses. Fusing cards is a core strategy and I recommend saving coins in order to buy some basic booster packs to get repeat cards for your current Towers. The more you can fuse, the stronger they’ll be!

Upgrade-as-fast-as-you-can

Upgrade your towers as quickly as you can. You’ll be thankful for their extra damage as the waves come harder and faster than before.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I will say it right now, I wholeheartedly recommend Prime World: Defenders to anyone who is a fan of Tower Defense games or TCGs/CCGs. The mix of these two genres works extremely well in this game and they have been executed to perfection (well, almost). The game doesn’t break new ground or innovate too much, so players looking for this may find themselves a little disappointed, but I find the blend between the two to be innovating enough and definitely an interesting idea.

I will continue playing Defenders for quite some time and am hoping the difficulty curve remains as consistent as it has been. The game still has a relatively blank canvas in terms of additional features and modes that could be added. I hope that future updates will bring new ways to play in order to increase the longevity of the game. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for this amazing hybrid game and you should definitely check it out!

The excitement and constant pressure of Tower Defense games mixed with the addictiveness of card collecting —  Prime World: Defenders will get your heart rate and your brain firing on all cylinders!

For more screenshots, click here.

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Zac Phoenix
Author: Zac Phoenix View all posts by

Zac Phoenix graduated with First Class Honors in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics and has been playing strategy card games since childhood. He has a keen interest in the underlying mechanics and player interactions of trading card games, as well as tabletop game design in the digital space. He also designs card games in his spare time.

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