Title: Hell Warders
Developer: Anti Gravity Game Studio
Genre: Action, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 21/02/2019
Price: £10.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Hell is at our gates! Rise up as one of the mighty Hell Warders, an ancient order of heroes with unique powers and abilities, to resist the demon hordes head-on. Push back wave after wave of Hell-spawn with an arsenal of weapons, rip apart their fearsome commanders with powerful hero skills, and deploy your army of knights, archers, and mages to bring the fight back to Hell!
Let’s start from the beginning. After I watched the trailer for Hell Warders, I’ll be honest and say that I was blown away. A Tower Defence title with a different approach. Not your typical bird’s eye view of the battlefield, but a third-person perspective as one of the three Hell Warders.
It looked great placing your towers, or in this case your army, in areas around the map to help you defend the Nexus, a powerful source of good and heart of your power.
The game promised so much but has it delivered an experience that others will enjoy or has this become hell to play… lets find out.
Looks and Sounds
Character designs look great. I loved all of the creepy and demonic demons you fight, especially the big end level bosses. The levels themselves are dark but what do you expect from a creepy old castle? It’s nothing spectacular, but it serves its purpose.
For the most part, things look ok, character models do look a little stiff, and I did see some graphical glitches. I encountered many bugs, including clipping through levels.
The sound was pretty good and featured some top voiceover work. The music did an excellent job of making me feel like I was entering an epic war against forces of evil!
Gameplay and Replayability
After a voice-over explains the story at the beginning of the game you are thrown into the deep end, without any useful tutorials at all. Choosing the single player option you are greeted with four acts. Completing one will move you to the next one but within each act is a series of missions to complete and they all take place in different areas of the castle.
The first mission begins in the courtyard, but very little information on how to play is displayed so my first couple of minutes resulted in a lot of trial and error until I worked out what I could and couldn’t do.
Not the best first impression I must admit.
I tried all three characters and found their move-sets to be lacking any real power. Their abilities felt slow and cumbersome. The Knight was the best out of the three due to his ability to stun enemies with a slam attack. However, I felt like I was attacking with a wet paper bag more than a sword for most of the battles. There’s no impact or satisfying attack contact to let you know that you’ve hit something, just a splat of blood. It made me feel powerless and weak and nothing like a legendary warrior.
Concerning the other two characters, I felt the same. One has a ranged attack, the other carried a hammer and could deploy bombs, but both felt either too slow or too weak to cause any significant damage to the horde. I found out that the hero is just present to place towers and upgrade them. Attacking felt pointless most of the time due to how many enemies there were, and few hits can deplete your health in seconds.
Moving around large maps to place or upgrade felt slow and most of the time difficult to manage when there was so much going on. I prayed to heaven above for a bird’s eye view that would help diminish the slow turning and help to speed up the process of placing and arranging troops.
Each mission completed rewards you with experience to level up your hero or troops, but I found putting everything into the troops levelling-up menu was the better option as having decent towers made battles beatable. If your towers aren’t up to scratch, you’re not going to get anywhere in the main campaign. However, I soon realised that my troops weren’t all that bright either.
When there were so many demon types approaching your position, everything goes to pot.
My troops would sometimes stand by while enemies ran past them to attack the Nexus, which is the object you are trying to protect -this is possibly the worst AI I’ve ever seen in a game.
Even upgrading them on the fly proved most time ineffective as they still did nothing useful and died just as quickly.
I crawled through the first act with my teeth gritted as it was highly annoying taking the time to set up a perimeter around the Nexus only for my so-called army to stand completely still while the demons run amok.
This also proved annoying as if the Nexus is damaged, even the one time, you don’t receive a reward at the end of the mission. There are five beacons to collect in each mission. However, if you don’t get all five beacons, you won’t receive the special reward, and it will remain locked until all beacons are collected. You can imagine my horror after I successfully protected it for six waves of demons only for my high-level pikeman to stand motionless while a single grunt demon passed him and hit it! I had no motivation to try it again after that.
Also when things become crowded the game moves at a snail’s pace, and the frame rate drops down to below what I would call acceptable. When this first happened, I was shocked as this wasn’t the trailer I saw only a couple minutes prior. The trailer they were showing moved at 60fps looked amazing so why was this running so dreadfully on the Switch? I hope a patch or update is in the works for launch as I wasn’t impressed with the performance.
There are only a few positives I have to say about the game, and the first one was the controls. After messing around with them, they were pretty easy to use. You move around with the left analogue stick and open your troop menu with the Y button and place troops with the B button. You select troops with the d-pad and close the menu with the X button. Also when playing as the hero, you use special abilities with the R and L bumpers and ZL triggers. You can jump with the B, roll with A button and for the most part, it all worked well enough.
There’s also a diverse collection of troops to use, artefacts to equip to your load-out that do improve specific abilities in your towers and soldiers. Artefacts are the rewards for collecting all five beacons on each mission, and they grant perks for your troops on the battlefield.
I did get some enjoyment out of Hell Warders when things worked. Like the Dungeon Mission in the second act when traps were introduced, this made it a more enjoyable experience. But it was short lived as soon as I got to the next area my troops didn’t perform the actions they were programmed to do, and yet again I failed to protect the Nexus.
It was so frustrating as what’s here could work great. Sadly, the different elements haven’t been implemented very well. I love tower defence titles, but this isn’t very good. The premise is, but the execution isn’t.
What upsets me most is I feel there quite a bit of content here to justify £10.99 price point which isn’t bad. Also, the game features online play which is a huge selling point but sadly as the game is not officially out yet, no one is online to play. So until launch, I can’t say if it will run just as poorly as single player.
I hope that isn’t the case as this would be an awesome feature so people can play with friends. But I fear that unless a patch is released, then there’s going to be a lot of disappointed players.
I had hoped this was going to be a stellar addition to my Switch library. But, I am deeply disappointed with Hell Warders. It has been presented in a nice package, and I love the characters and the art design. Sadly, that doesn’t hide the game’s many flaws. It just doesn’t play well on the Switch. It’s buggy, has frame rate issues and awful AI. The lack of any real power in the Hell Warder character abilities made me feel powerless and very unfulfilled.
Yes, there’s online play, and maybe, just maybe, a patch is waiting to be applied at the game’s launch. However, I highly doubt that it would fix all of Hell Warder’s issues.
Hell Warder’s has been hell to play but not in a good way.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Hell Warders at the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Hell-Warders-1504610.html#Overview