As I reported last week, Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten DX has released on PlayStation Vita. However, at the time of that posting, I did not realize that DQ:VFDX would be a cross-buy/cross-save title with PlayStation 4. As Sony has begun the long, slow march to the Vita gas chamber, I kind of forgot that the cross-buy/cross-save program even existed. But lucky me; I started playing the PS4 version earlier this week, so when the Vita version dropped earlier this afternoon, I was able to download it for free, and transfer my PS4 save over to the Vita. Score!
This is a game that is just crying out to be played on a handheld. Frankly, most of my early hours with Defender’s Quest were played using the Remote Play feature on the Vita, steaming it over from my PS4. While some of the fonts are a little small on Vita, the bite-sized play sessions more than compensate for having to do a little squinting. With a strategy game like this, the graphics are secondary to being able to accessibility and ease of use, and after a bit of time learning the UI, Defender’s Quest has both of those in spades.
There is no other way to say it: This game is dope. Levels are tied together with an abbreviated and amusing story, but the meat of the game is the tower defense/RPG battle system. Defender’s Quest is Tower Defense on steroids. There are so many smart quality-of-life design elements in Defender’s Quest. Each of your “towers” is actually a character that you can recruit from towns you encounter as you battle across the map. Characters each have an individual skill tree, and you can ramp up their skills with both passive and active abilities. The loop of battle/earn experience/level up/attack battle on harder difficulty is incredibly strong, and has hooked me so deeply that I’m having a hard time putting the game down.
There are two killer elements that make the battle system work as well as it does. The first the ability to pause battles at any time to move your guys around the battle field, to “boost” their abilities, or to cast spells. All of these options cost battle-specific points earned by killing baddies. So, you can let your guys whale on early enemies, then pause the flow and manipulate things to your favor.
The second great touch is the ability to crank up the speed of battles. This makes grinding levels for your characters (or just running easy battles for cash) a breeze. Just set up your characters, raise the speed of battle to 16x normal, and its all over in a matter of seconds, leaving you bathing in a pool of sweet, sweet XP.
Tower Defense games fell into the mobile ghetto years ago, but I have always enjoyed the accessible strategy of titles in this genre. If you, like me, have had an undefinable itch for a great tower defense game, then Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten DX is here to scratch that itch.
Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten DX is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Steam for $14.99.