Reviews - Updated on March 28, 2022

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

Queen, pawns and master

Defend the Rook is stylized as a board game, where we move the pieces of a warrior, a thief, a sorceress and our own castle on the board in turn-by-turn mode, set up traps and defensive towers to fight off attackers. And the Master owns the figures, who thus helps a certain golden queen – she turned to him for help in order to cope with her enemies and capture more gems.

It is clear that the mixture of “bagel” and tower defense is not about the plot, but it is also there. And what’s more, the story is even able to surprise once – at least during the first passage.

Defend the Rook: Review

Everyone here is making cunning plans.

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 passage, intelligent mushrooms, among others, fought with me, and in the second they were no longer there, but I almost immediately met vampires. And each time, in addition to old acquaintances, new enemies may come across, under which you will have to adjust tactics.

Moreover, each faction opposing us 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 splits into new heads every turn that seek to surround our heroes.

Defend the Rook: Review

The game randomly determines which regions we will visit before meeting the final boss.

Everything for the ride

In each chapter, we need to fight off five enemy waves, and in the final, of course, the boss appears. We use not only heroes, but also towers with different firing ranges, 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 their reach), 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.

Defend the Rook: Review

The game looks neat and pleasant.

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 deals damage to several enemies at once, reduce the thief’s armor, but add mobility (affects the range of movement in his turn) or give the warrior the ability to accumulate strength, unless he attacks on his turn. Lots of options. And in case of injury or death of one of our wards, you will be offered to heal and resurrect them, but here you have to decide how much more important this is than to teach another fighter a powerful skill.

In addition, after each chapter in the store, you can purchase upgrades for traps and defensive towers for earned gold, as well as upgrade your castle – these are not only banal increases in health and attack range, but also new features, such as chain lightning, multiplying damage per each attacked enemy, the ability 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 general supply of “exp” and which upgrades to choose from two options for each character – to add, for example, health points to the sorceress or to make her attacks penetrate armor.

Defend the Rook: Review

Each time we choose between alternative pumping options.

After each race, global improvements become available, purchased for especially rare crystals. This is how 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 passage, instead of a warrior, take, for example, a barbarian, and instead of a sorceress, a sorcerer. And even before a new race, they are allowed to choose their 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 versions of heroes, towers and traps. True, such modifiers do not open immediately.

Defend the Rook: Review

Global improvements are not cheap.

Together or apart?

There is an important detail in all these upgrades – many of them are focused on giving bonuses to allies who are next to each other. You can make the sorceress beat her own, and they only become stronger from this. Or for the towers to automatically attack those who are damaged by the thief.

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

Defend the Rook: Review

Each time you can see in advance where the enemies will come from – it is important to correctly position your pieces.

And everything would be fine, but Defend the Rook still has problems with balance. Or am I so smart, since I groped them. In any case, ceteris paribus, the sorceress seems stronger and more useful than the others – primarily due to the large attack range and the presence of cheating skills, when other opponents are automatically attacked when an enemy is killed. 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: Review

There are also problems with fonts.

Defend the Rook looks like an interesting mixture of “bagel”, card game and “tower defense”, which only at first glance seems to be 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 given the problems with the balance. But in any case, the game leaves a good impression and deserves the attention of fans of the genre.

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

Cons: there are issues with the balance – some heroes look stronger and more useful than others.

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