The tower defense genre is a curious invention indeed. Starting off mostly as custom maps for the popular Warcraft 3 multiplayer scene, this genre was no more than a sideshow to other, more popular custom maps, such as the wildly-successful Dota. However, while the latter’s popularity definitely blew up and became its own e-sport phenomenon, the former evolved into cult classic status, with a smaller yet very committed player base.
Since then, there have been many, many iterations of tower defense games, with mixed success. However, considering the portability and convenience of the mobile platform, combined with the hands-off gameplay and strategic design of the games in this genre, they definitely feel at home playing them on your phone. What’s more, there are some seriously great titles in this genre when it comes to the mobile platform, including Lords Watch: Tower Defense RPG, which we’ve written about in the past. Today, however, we want to introduce one of the latest entries into this category, Arknights.
Developed by the well-established YoStar Limited, Arknights takes the concept we’ve grown to know and love about the tower defense genre, and takes it to a sci-fi setting involving operators, mindscapes, and a whole bunch of fantasy elements to spice up the world. While the story is certainly nothing to write home about, it’s well-written and localized.
During the first few chapters of the story that we’ve played in order to write this first impressions article, we didn’t see a single spelling error or UI bugs where the text doesn’t fit in the box. It doesn’t sound like much, but details like these add a lot of value to us since we believe games should not only be fun to play but should also be translated with care. Imagine creating an awesome game, only to have people in other parts of the world not be able to enjoy it because it wasn’t properly translated. What a shame!
But you’re not here to read about trifles such as the story in a mobile game. You’re probably here because you’re looking to have some fun defending your lanes from enemy invasions using carefully-positioned units. Well, dear readers, we’re pleased to tell you that there’s plenty of that going around in Arknights, and it’s quite engaging and entertaining, to boot.
Tower Defense Gameplay In All its Glory
Those who are familiar with the games in this genre will definitely have a nice time with Arknights, as this game offers just about everything you expect from a tower defense title. However, like with most similar titles, winning here is not just about plopping units down in random positions, but also taking about into consideration the many different parameters of each unit, including their roles, their range, their attacks, and the wide variety of skills that they come with.
In this sense, Arknights is just as much an RPG as it is a tower defense game. Instead of traditional towers that only vary in the types of attacks they unleash upon the enemy, there are many different types of units in this game, all of which fall into certain roles. It’s these roles that define their responsibilities in battle. For instance, Defenders are not only the tankiest units in the game, but they can also block the most number of enemies at any given time, preventing them from passing through tight hallways while your DPS units eliminate them.
There are several roles that your units can fulfill in Arknights such as the aforementioned Defenders, as well as Snipers, Specialists, Vanguards, Guards, and Medics, among a few others. The way these units types interact with each other adds a layer of strategy to an already-complex game, which greatly increases the build variety and the number of strategies available for completing any given level. There are also many different characters to recruit, all with their own backstories and character arcs. While the story might not be the main focus of the games for some people, there’s definitely a lot of it to be had in this tower defense game.
Speaking of characters, every unit that you summon via the gacha headhunting and recruiting systems can be upgraded in many different ways to improve their stats. This is where the RPG elements of Arknights truly manifest, as promoting units not only increases their level and stats but also unlocks different skills that can revamp their kit and increase their usefulness.
And because a mobile game really can’t be complete without any type of grinding mechanic, Arknights also has its fair share of daily mission and challenges that grant many valuable rewards for those diligent enough to complete them on a daily basis. This is the best way to progress in this tower defense game, especially when you’re stuck at certain levels in the story. Sometimes, it’s better to just back down and gather your strength before finally trying again.
An Appealing Mix of Gameplay and Artstyle
Last but not least, we couldn’t wrap up this review without addressing the visual aspect of Arknights. The game looks amazing. While the units in battle aren’t too complex graphics-wise, they’re very detailed and adorned with their own aspects to make them stand out from the others. However, in stark contrast to their chibi-like appearances in the field, the portrait art of each unit when viewed in the menus is quite astounding.
The drawings are very detailed and look very nice, which is yet another aspect in which this game excels. Surely, you seldom expect to find such production values in a tower defense game, of all things, but Arknights definitely delivers in this aspect and has plenty of other things going for it.
We’re sure that, if you’re a fan of the tower defense genre, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Arknights. Furthermore, if you play it on BlueStacks, you’ll also have access to our wide range of tools that you can use to improve your experience with this game. Have you already downloaded and tried Arknights on BlueStacks? We’d love to hear your opinions, so leave us a message in the section below!