The resident die-hard Arknights shill had long decided to try out Time Defenders, being an anime tower defense to appeal to one’s weeb sensibilities. It’s an arguably more niche genre, compared to the dime-a-dozen RPGs. The game suffered some delays, pushing back its original 24 August launch to 26 August instead. Whatever the case, it’s here now, so let’s get into it.
Unusually enough, the game employs both 3D models AND fully voiced story beats. They do use this to their advantage, with the added motions doing a much better job conveying the situation compared to a flashing screen and edited 2D sprites. The story also flows into the mission stages, having the objectives you protect changing accordingly. Unlike Arknights, the objective’s HP has a health bar, so you have more room for error.
Units are placed down on specific hexagons, with different markings for melee and ranged units. A unit’s range is indicated by a radius around them, with skills typically also only activatable within this radius even if it’s an AOE effect. If any unit can use their skill, you can just drag their icon upwards from the bottom of the screen if it doesn’t need targetting.
I still have a problem with visual clarity with this game. At least when you select a yet-undeployed unit, the valid tiles will be highlighted. I just feel that the style remains too busy, though it could just be me. The camera angle for stages isn’t uniform either.
Outside of the game’s stages, your homescreen character can be spun around so that you can admire their model. The whole setup invokes this futuristic style. I naturally have no idea what’s going on in the story, but I assume time has something to do with it. Just a hunch.
There’s nothing especially exciting about the core mechanics: put down units, make sure they don’t get to the objective, activate Melantha skill, retreat if needed, oh god do I have enough deployment points? There are eight classes from what I see:
Characters range from N, R, SR to SSR rarity, and accordingly get fancier skills and what have you the higher you go. Enemies come in waves, their paths indicated by blue for ground enemies, or red for air. Sometimes there may be obstacles on the map, which you or the enemies can destroy. You’re able to see what enemies will spawn from the stage select, as well as replays of other players. Skips are possible, though that’s not something you get early game. On the left, you can check unit DPS or HP healed, for those who want to see the numbers. Units gain EXP on stage completion.
That’s all standard fare, with the greatest departure being in character growth. There’s:
- Limit Break
- Skill Levelling
Awakening requires character shards. A dupe SSR gave me 15 shards, and I need 30 for the first Awakening (besides other materials), and it looks repeatable up to 5 times. Imprinting looks like it works similarly to Arknights‘ Potentials, reducing their deployment costs, among other parameters, also up to 5 times. Limit Breaks are also up to 5 times, and you’ll probably get to this first before the Awakenings, increasing a character’s level cap. Skill levelling is self explanatory, and needs to be done per skill (oh I miss you already, Arknights…). Last but not least, a character has four slots in which they can have gear in.
Base SSR rates are 3%, and it looks like there’s a spark system in place, requiring 200 draws for regular banners, a different counter either for characters or equipment.
… yes, you read that right: there’s equipment gacha. Look, I know other games have done it, be it the dragons in Dragalia, Craft Essences in FGO, and similar. They’re in different pools, so you don’t have to worry about getting spooked by something you don’t want. It feels worse when you see banners that look to be gacha for unique equipment for characters for the double dipping. You get 50 Diamonds for a 3-star first clear for regular stage clears, and a single pull takes 100.
For what it’s worth, the first rigged 10-roll can be rerolled up to a maximum of 30 times, guaranteeing one SSR. The number of SRs are random.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t really like Time Defenders. For a genre I’d assume would rely more on strategic chops and galaxy brain ideas, having so many variables in strengthening characters feels like too much. Needing multiple copies for an Awakening on top of equipment gacha seals the no-deal for me. If you’re willing to put in the time, I’m sure you’ll be able to get far even with free, low rarity units because their level caps can be raised higher than you might normally expect.
However, this will be a pass for me. I hope you’ll enjoy it more than I do.
While sleek in presentation, the avenues of monetization is not appealing.
- Expressive models and presentation makes for immersive storytelling
- Way too many variables in strengthening characters
- Lacking in visual clarity
The strategy part feels sidelined for a tower defense game