Developer: Jellyoasis
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When is Tower Defense not Tower Defense? When it’s Lich Defense. The rules for both are primarily the same; keep waves of enemies from reaching their target by placing defensive structures along their path. However the game itself feels quite a bit different when the target is an undead wizard capable of defending himself and single-handedly turning the tide of battle.

In order to wuss-out on the whole “being a badguy” thing, the lich in Lich Defense has been turned into a sort of antihero. He’s turned himself into a lich in order to keep an eternal eye on a gateway that could unleash the ultimate evil if it were ever opened. So he’s actually a good guy, but he’s a lich so people want to attack him, then he kills them in order to protect himself and, by extension, the gateway. So he’s kind of a badguy. And now my head hurts.

Lich Defense should feel familiar to Tower Defense lovers. Many of the expected (and upgradeable) types are available including slow splash-damage towers, anti-air towers, and more. Another welcome addition that I haven’t seen in the genre before is the “3 Mission” bonus that’s become popular in more casual iOS games. These bonus tasks that range from completing a level without taking damage to using special abilities a set number of times will grant some much needed bonus cash to be used in buying upgrades and the like. However the major addition is the lich himself. He is, in essence, a base that fights back. New equipment can be purchased that bestows new abilities such as boosted health or range, as well as some limited-use items for temporary improvements. He also has access to a robust book of spells that can make a huge difference in a pinch.

As much as I enjoy Lich Defense’s clever features, including the auto-save that will restart from the beginning of the most recent wave if a game is interrupted, I’m a bit disappointed at the way so much content in the store has been gated behind IAP currency. Starting off with 1,000 Jelly Coins is great and all, but some items cost several thousand to purchase and earning more without spending cash is difficult to say the least. I’d be happy to look the other way if this was a free-to-play game but it feels out of place in a paid iOS game.

That’s not to say that Lich Defense can’t be enjoyed without sinking tons of money into it. It’s just a shame to see all that cool stuff sitting just out of reach. Still, it’s a solid Tower Defense game with a hook that just might be different enough to interest anyone burned out on the genre.


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