Hell Warders is a dreary, dark action tower defense game developed by Ares Games. If you’re thinking of Dungeon Defenders or Orcs Must Die!, then you’re on the right track when approaching Hell Warders. It’s very similar to those two, but with a darker, more realistic aesthetic. In my opinion, this is a better overall look and feel for a tower defense game. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
There isn’t really that much of a story in-game right now, but there’s a small one on the game’s Steam Store page. For as long as mankind can remember, the Warders gave their lives fighting back the forces of darkness. Though the attacks were fearsome, the struggle never seemed hopeless before. Until one day, night fell and ceaseless legions of towering demons flowed forth. Entire kingdoms crumbled before the sun rose again to reveal an endless army reaching the horizons. Only a handful of humans stood in front of them. Through great sacrifice, these Hell Warders crafted the first of the Nexuses to hold back the worst of hell. But the demonic vanguard marches ever closer and the Hell Warders must defend against evil itself. A hopeless endeavor, some would say. But so long as one pillar of light remains, there will be Hell Warders.
Whatever gets you motivated to kill the hordes of Hell, right?
This game features your basic action combat with some tower defense mechanics. You get to choose from (at the moment) 3 different Warders to play as, each with their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. There are plans for a slew of additional Warders as development goes forward. Once you choose a Warder, you are dropped into a Hub lobby. From here, you can organize your party by inviting friends or searching for other players that are online. Once you have your group set up, you can start a match by choosing a map. Each map features different layouts and monsters. Some are more straight forward than others, and some are just downright ridiculous.
Once your on your map, the Prep Stage begins. Here, you can explore and get used to the map while picking up your Defense Items. These allow you to summon and shore up your defenses against the hordes you’ll be facing on the map. These respawn after each wave, so make use of your Prep Stage and pick them up! Defense Items includes spear soldier walls, archers, mages, and even priests who heal any friendly unit that comes into range. Placing these Defense Items strategically is KEY to surviving each wave and ultimately winning your match. As you defeat enemies, you’ll earn stage EXP, which you can use to buy talents that are active on this map. These includes attack speed buffs, attack damage buffs, and so on. After you win (or lose) a match, your Warder will also earn EXP. Every 5 levels, you’ll earn a Skill Point that you can spend to permanently boost your Warder’s abilities and effectiveness.
When I first saw Hell Warders, I immediately thought of Dark Souls and its gloomy atmosphere and aesthetic. It’s one of the things that got me hooked. Everything is very dark and detailed. It’s by far the most impressive aspect of Hell Warders. Your player characters look really sharp, as do most of the demons and enemies you’ll be fighting. Although some of the bigger enemies look a bit too big. They’ll often clip in and out of their surroundings and other enemies.
The game’s sound direction does okay for what’s available. Hell Warders -IS- still in Early Access. If anything, I’d like for Ares Games to improve this area of the game before full release. Sound effects and music are oftentimes key when trying to immerse plays into a game world.
For what it is, I really liked Hell Warders. I’ve always been a fan of Tower Defense games, so that’s likely why I enjoyed it so much. It uses the standard formula for the genre, but tries to do something to make it stand out. I think it has the potential to be a great game, after just a little bit more development. It’s definitely worth it’s purchase point as a price of admission, ESPECIALLY if you play with a group of friends.