When it comes to tower defense games Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) has been surprisingly lacking. While developers have aimed to introduce players to the world of VR through other genres, there isn’t a whole lot to choose from if you’re looking to quench your thirst for some good, old fashioned tower defending. Thankfully, Ancient Amuletor from TiGames has stepped in with a surprisingly fun, co-op centric, and most importantly, VR-friendly take on the age-old genre.
When I got my hands on Ancient Amuletor at this year’s PAX East convention, I was surprised by what I found. While the game is still fairly bare bones in terms of presentation, the basic idea is similar to any tower defense game: set in an ancient world, you’ll be pit against various magical monsters and creatures as they try to take down your base. You’ll have your pick of multiple heroes, ranging from archers, mages, gunners, and even a weird puppeteer-like character as you travel from pillar to pillar trying to keep various crystals from being destroyed.
Defending Your Base
Each round of Ancient Amuletor plays like a standard tower defense game, only in a first person perspective. Once the game started, I was able to transport to various pillars located around the map with the tap of a button on the Move controller. In a genre that often has you able to see an entire map at once, it was surprisingly fun to maneuver myself throughout the level in order to constantly check up on how an area is doing. Staying too long in one place meant that it was likely that another would be overrun, which added to the frenetic nature that those type of games already have.
Thankfully, I played the demo with another person, and it made for a better playing experience. There is no penalty for being on the same pillar as a buddy, and the game doesn’t restrict you to one of each hero as most others do, which is a pleasant change. We were able to take down the waves of enemies fairly easily, and after the last of them was defeated, the demo ended with a bang: a giant, towering (no pun intended) boss appeared above us. To defeat it, we simply had to time our attacks right; the boss swings in to attack, which opens a window of time to attack it.
The developers of the game, the China-based TIGames, have likened Ancient Amuletor to a MOBA in terms of how it deals with hero-based gameplay. That’s not entirely far off from how the game plays, as the heroes all feel like they bring something different to the table when you pick one. In my brief time with the game (I got to play through two full rounds), I was able to play as every character for a fairly decent amount of time. Switching between them is fairly quick and can be done mid-game, allowing you to invoke different strategies as the situation calls for. All of the playable heroes offer unique and interesting ways to play, especially for a VR title.
Mixing it Up
Of the four characters, the gunslinger is by far the most traditional and works the best in the VR setting. With two guns, you simply move from pillar to pillar and mow down enemies. The archer, as one might assume, was probably the toughest to control, as I not only had to be careful in drawing the arrow back to make sure I got a powerful shot off, but I also had to be precise in aiming, as the game was not too forgiving if I missed shots. The games other two heroes – the mage and puppet master – might not be the most powerful heroes in the game, but they certainly are the most fun to use.
As a mage (and also a right-handed person), I was given a spell book in my left hand and a hook-shaped wand in my right. With a press of the trigger button on the left Move controller, an orb would appear above the pages of the book. Dragging the wand over it allowed me to pick up the spell and then flick it down onto enemies to deal a fair bit of damage. You can even “stack” spells, so to speak, by summoning multiple orbs and leaving them to hang while you travel about and find the best place to rain down chaos on your enemies. During my time with Ancient Amuletor, the mage was easily the most fun character to use simply due to how fun it was to summon and cast spells in VR.
The final class, the puppet master, was also a bit fun if not a bit gimmicky. As the puppet master, you can toss a puppet onto the ground that will mimic your movements. While it’s fun to move yourself about and watch a puppet mimic you as you fight through hordes of enemies, it’s not a truly effective hero and didn’t offer much defense when it came to actually completing a round.
Ancient Amuletor may not be the most ground breaking PSVR game to debut on the system, but it’s certainly filling a hole that not many other companies have tried to do. By delivering a fun, easy to pick up and play twist on the tower defense genre for the PSVR, Ancient Amuletor looks ready to burst out onto the scene and capture a large slice of a market that’s ripe for the taking when it releases sometime this summer.
Despite only playing a couple of rounds during my demo, I could easily see myself picking this up and getting lost in it for some time, which is exactly what the PSVR needs now more than ever. If you’re a fan of tower defense games, make sure this one is on your radar.