From MossTech Studio, the rogue-lite tower defense indie video game Guardians of Holme has been released on Steam Early Access. And I have to say that I enjoyed it more than expected.
I was provided with a free digital code for Guardians of Holme for review on Steam/PC. The opinions I have shared are my own.
There isn’t a scarcity of tower defense games out there. So, it all comes down to what a video game has to offer to make it stand apart from its peers. In my opinion, Guardians of Holme did a good job of selling itself as a tower defense title that is indeed a bit different. It is easy to learn. Has some humor thrown in. And the game mechanic isn’t really about creating actual in-game towers. There’s a reason the recent promo caught my attention.
The story is quite simple. The Demon King has awakened and he is sending his demonic hordes to the Royal City to break or collect (I don’t really remember) glowing protection gems. You, the player, need to stop the demon army from reaching the protection gem during each level. And you accomplish that by setting traps and other weapons to kill the army before they reach the gem.
While the game showed me three characters, apparently, the Early Access version only gave me access to two characters named Seth and Nicole. Seth’s an artisan skilled at making traps while Nicole’s his childhood friend who is skilled in the magical arts. The third character is named Horus and he’s skilled at commanding guards in battle. Each character comes with its own playstyle due to the type of traps and weapons you will have access to. Also, their Stats are different. For example, Seth has 30 HP, 100 Coins, and 4600 Resources. In contrast, Nicole has 20 HP and 100 Coins, but she starts with 4900 Resources.
Anyway, the game wanted me to begin by playing as Seth. So, that’s what I did.
The initial levels are very easy to get through. You are shown a maze-like location with a portal that will release the demons. A bright marker will tell you the route the demons will take to get to the gem (placed somewhere inside the maze). You will need to think of how to best use the Resource Points you have to place traps and weapons alongside the available pathways to defeat the army before they reach the gem. The traps and weapons you are able to use depend on the cards you draw and how many Resource Points you have. As you progress through the game, you will have access to more traps and weapons. You can also unlock upgrades for them.
Also, talking about the route the demons will take, you can place roadblocks to extend their trip to the gem so they can encounter more traps along the way. The variety of demons appearing in the incoming waves you have to face per level will make you think of different ways to kill them. Some enemies will run fast while some can fly over ditches or heal other demons.
As mentioned earlier, this tower defense game doesn’t have you constructing towers. Instead, the traps and weapons are placed on the ground or on the walls. I liked how you can decide which direction a weapon will shoot in when you are ready to stick said weapon to a wall. The one-direction mechanic for the weapons and traps helps to make the item placement feel more strategic compared to simply having each trap shoot arrows or something else in a 360-degree range.
Of course, different traps and weapons do different things. Some will slow the enemies down. Some will poison or paralyze them. My favorite cards were ones featuring quick-shooting weapons. Yes, said weapons burned out faster, but you could minimize the cooldown period by unlocking more helpful cards. You are also able to unlock or find a variety of Relics to offer in-game advantages.
Seth also had unique abilities. He could place a Clamp Trap and have arrows rain from the sky. You don’t need to spend Resource Points to use his abilities. However, they did have a cooldown timer, that could be decreased via certain upgrades. Seth’s abilities really came in handy when a demon or two was able to survive my traps and make it quite close to the gem.
The HP is basically how many hits the gem could take before it breaks and you lose. Maintaining high HP at the end of each level will increase your chances of survival as you progress. Fortunately, you do get the option to increase your HP. You can either enter a Campsite to rest or you can accept certain bonus challenges before the start of each level to reward you with more HP if your mission is a success.
You can play this game as slow or fast as you want. You get a lot of time to prepare your initial traps before the waves start coming in. The type of enemies you will encounter during each wave is shown on the right. And you can press the fast-forward icon in the bottom right corner to speed up or slow down the gameplay. You can also pause if you want. The entire thing is very user-friendly, especially with how you gain Resource Points as you continue to kill demons to help you place more traps or upgrade the ones you already have.
One of the things I liked about the gameplay mechanic is that you can also Sell the traps you have already placed. Being able to do so was very helpful during the final waves when the demons had survived the traps placed near the portal and were closing in on the gem. Just go on and sell the traps placed near the start of the route and then use the newly collected Resource Points to place new traps and weapons near the gem.
Again, I liked how this game wanted players to have fun instead of stressing out whenever a new wave of demons appeared.
I also want to highlight the soundtrack. The music didn’t get boring to me even after hours of playing and the vibe suited the steampunk fantasy setting.
The cartoony visuals were also nice.
In my opinion, the rogue-lite element in Guardians of Holme makes it quite an addictive game. Even if you fail, there is still a sense of accomplishment as you replay the levels again but this time better equipped than your previous session. I had to stop myself from continuing to play it for hours because I had other things on my To-Do list.
With the current version having quite a lot to offer players, I’m looking forward to seeing what the dev team has planned as they continue to polish this title.
Guardians of Holme came to Steam Early Steam Access today on June 16, 2023.
Have you played it yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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