Tower defense games are fast becoming stale and dated, and the same could be said for match three-type games. You can find one or the other in either free or paid forms, and there doesn’t seem to be any variety that can be found within these genres any more. With Puzzle Defense: Dragons, however, players will be able to experience a breath of fresh air as the two genres are combined into one addictive and very strategic game. With players commanding a troop of swordsmen, archers, and other units against swarms of dragons, players must make matches to form stronger soldiers to impede the relentless invasion by these monsters.
Puzzle Defense: Dragons is free to play, although the freemium model is still there. There are some nuances such as ad pop ups, but most of these can be forgivable since you’re not actually paying anything in order to play. Should you want to remove these interruptions, however, the game offers players the chance to earn currencies in the form of coins to remove this feature, as well as to purchase items and additional troops that can help you win stages and last longer in Battle Mode. Don’t expect to be able to amass a respectable amount of coins within a day or two, however, as currency rewards are kind of scarce. The only way to take advantage of this currency is to buy them outright using, unsurprisingly, real money.
Gameplay within Puzzle Defense: Dragons is pretty basic. By matching units into combinations of three or more, players would be able to form stronger units with higher stats. This is extremely important as higher level monsters would be able to instantly incinerate any lowly troops that you have in front of them. Attacking is automatic as troops would instantly attack any enemies within range. Focus and planning are very important within this title, as players should be able to create a formidable force in order to repel the waves of dragons that would inevitably come along. Speed would also play a factor for the very same reasons.
The game offers two modes, namely Campaign and the aforementioned Battle Mode. Under Campaign, there’s a specific number of waves to repel, and players can move forward to more difficult stages once the current one has been cleared. On the other hand, Battle Mode is the game’s Survival Mode where the goal is to survive for as long as possible against an endless wave of invaders. Of the two, the latter is the more effective way of earning currencies, but the Campaign Mode is much more forgiving especially if you are still at that point where you are still learning the ropes of the game.
One of the main gripes that you can say about Puzzle Defense: Dragons is the graphics. The visuals are very mediocre as compared to other games that really try and compensate the repetitive gameplay with some cool animations. You can’t find that in this title, and the characters look like the basic sprites that you’d already seen in older gaming consoles. There’s also no upgrade system that would improve your specific units, so you’re pretty much limited to strategy with no option to bulk up your team. Lastly, earning coins is also pretty much an uphill battle, as if the game really forces you to choke up some money if you’re bad at the game and is constantly frustrated by the pop ups that keep on showing up.
Sadly, there’s not a lot that you can do with the title, and it would feel as if you’ve already discovered everything there is about the game after playing a few stages in each of the title’s two game modes. Still, the game can still be a bit of a challenge if you give it a try, as you would find yourself adjusting and readjusting strategies in order to keep up with the tougher and more numerous waves. Our personal favorite is the Battle Mode where how well you play would be the only thing that would determine how long you would be able to survive. You’ll also need some quick thinking when it comes to the placement of units, as chaining and preventing wastage of units is extremely important as well. All in all, Puzzle Defense: Dragons is a pretty good game for the reasons that it is free, and that is a fresh take on combining two popular but plateauing genres into one. There might be a lot of improvements that can still be made, especially with regards to the lacking graphics and upgrade system, but still, this is a pretty good start, all things considered.
Tested on Android Tablet. Final Score: 6/10
Puzzle Defense: Dragons was developed by HeroCraft LTD. It is available exclusive for devices running the Android platform via Google Play, and was released on February 4, 2014.