Defend the Rook: Review

Roguelike, Poki games, tower defense are some of the most popular genres in indie. And it all comes together in Defend the Rook. How delicious is this cocktail?

Defend the Rook is stylized as a Poki game, where we move the figures of a warrior, a thief, a sorceress and our own castle on the board in turn-based mode, place traps and defense towers to fend off attackers. And the Master owns the figures, who in this way helps a certain golden queen - she turned to him for help to cope with her enemies and capture more gems.

It is clear that the mixture of "roguelike" and tower defense is not about the plot, but it is here too. And what's more, the story can even surprise you once - at least during the first playthrough.

It is also surprising that during new races, with the total number of chapters and the same plot tasks, you may come across radically different opponents - for example, in the first playthrough, intelligent mushrooms fought with me among others, and in the second they were no longer there, but I met vampires almost immediately. And each time, in addition to old acquaintances, new enemies may come across, for which you will have to adjust tactics.

Moreover, each opposing faction has its own characteristics. For example, the leader of the vampires is invulnerable until we destroy his army, the northern barbarians rely on artillery, and the coral hydra is divided into new heads each turn, which seek to surround our heroes.

In each chapter, we need to fight off five enemy waves, and in the finale, of course, a boss appears. We use not only heroes, but also towers that differ in firing range and traps - barrels are initially available that block the passage and distract enemies towards themselves, as well as freezing spikes. In addition, you can use global spells to heal your heroes, give them an extra turn, destroy their own towers (then they will hit all enemies in the range), and so on. True, the number of such skills is limited and does not grow between waves, so you have to think carefully when to use them.

After each reflected wave, they are allowed to choose an improvement for one of the three heroes - for example, teach the sorceress to throw lightning that inflict damage on several opponents at once, reduce the thief's armor, but add mobility (affects the movement range on his turn) or give the warrior the ability to accumulate strength, if he did not attack on his turn. There are a lot of options. And in case of injury or death of one of our wards, you will be offered to heal and resurrect them, but then you have to decide how much more important this is than teaching another fighter a powerful skill.

In addition, after each chapter in the store, you can buy upgrades for traps and defense towers for the earned gold, as well as pump your castle - these are not only banal increases in the level of health and attack range, but also new opportunities, like chain lightning, damage multiplication for each attacked enemy, the opportunity to get an additional trap when the building is destroyed, and so on.

And for experience points we pump heroes, constantly deciding on whom to spend the total supply of "exp" and which upgrades from the two options for each character to choose - add, for example, health points to the sorceress or make her attacks penetrate the armor.

After each run, global improvements become available, which are acquired for especially rare crystals. So we open up new types of global spells, towers and traps, the opportunity to meet unique figures on the battlefield - for example, a goblin with a bomb or healing mushrooms. Plus, you can open more prestigious classes of heroes, so that in the next playthrough, instead of a warrior, take, for example, a barbarian, and instead of a sorceress, a sorceress. And before the new race, they are allowed to choose the preferred set of spells and traps.

Finally, there is the modifier system. They make enemies and bosses stronger, reduce the effectiveness of healing or completely cancel healing procedures, increase prices in the store, and even add a gang of Magister hunters to the board. And in return, we will get access to advanced options for heroes, towers and traps. True, such modifiers do not open immediately.

All of these upgrades have an important detail - many of them are focused on giving bonuses to allies who find themselves next to each other. You can make the sorceress beat her own, and they only become stronger from this. Or so that the towers automatically attack those who are damaged by the thief.

And vice versa, when improving the heroes, there are options when they become stronger if there are no comrades or allied towers / traps on the neighboring cells. That is, we get the opportunity to choose the style and tactics of passing.

And all would be fine, but in  Defend the Rook there are still problems with the balance. Or am I so smart, since I groped them. In any case, all other things being equal, the sorceress seems to be stronger and more useful than the others - primarily due to the long attack range and the presence of cheating skills, when other opponents are automatically attacked when killing an enemy. Although it cannot be said that because of this, the passage becomes too easy - with bosses such tricks do not always work.

Defend the Rook looks like an interesting mixture of roguelike, Poki game and tower defense, which only at first glance seems poor in content, and after the first and subsequent playthroughs it opens up many new heroes and enemies, towers, traps, spells, and so on. Yes, not all of this may be needed, especially considering balance issues. But in any case, the Poki game leaves a pleasant impression and deserves the attention of fans of the genre.

Pros: interesting gameplay at the junction of "roguelike", Poki games and "tower defense"; you have to think tactically and choose a passing style; many types of enemies with unique features; a lot of upgrades; nice art design.

Cons: There are balance issues - some heroes look stronger and more useful than others.