Of all the different genre mashups that exist on the mobile app stores these days, tower defense + deck-building is among our favorites.
This accessible hybrid is for those players who like the basic concept of having a customized fighting force, but don’t want to spend hours learning about the intricacies of every card, combination, and upgrade path in the heat of arena-based combat.
Yes, Guardian Chronicle has multiplayer battles – in fact, it only has multiplayer battles. And, yes, it contains plenty to keep deck-building enthusiasts busy.
But the core of the experience is a casual, quick, hyper-addictive loop of playing, tweaking, and playing again. And then tweaking again, and playing one more game before bed. And, what the hell, just one more game after that.
Guardian Chronicle’s battles take the form of tower defence rounds against monsters that attack in waves, entering the stage at the entrance and snaking their way through your defensive network until they reach your base and whittle its HP down to 0.
In Competitive mode, you’re trying to last longer against these monsters than your opponent. In Co-op, you and another human join forces to hold the monsters off for as long as you can.
The gameplay is fast and frantic, but with hidden depths beneath its splashy surface. At the beginning of each round you’re given a budget of Lanic to spend on deploying guardians. Every time you kill an enemy you get more Lanic to spend on deploying more guardians, with the costs and rewards rising in lockstep over the course of the round.
Guardians appear randomly in a line along the bottom of the screen, and you always deploy the guardian at the end. This allows you to see what guardians you’ve got coming, which will become more important to you as you get better at the game and start thinking more strategically.
To upgrade a guardian during a round, you need to have two guardians of the same type and level in the field, at which point you can fuse them by dragging one over the other.
Interestingly, fusion causes two guardians to become a single, more powerful version of the next guardian in the line, rather than the guardians you fused together. This introduces an extra layer of depth, since you’re forced to deploy guardians in spots you had originally pegged for different types of guardian.
There are four classes in Guardian Chronicle – defense, support, attack, and growth – all with different specialties. Attacking guardians are powerful but rare, so defense guardians will make up the bulk of your fighting force. Support and growth guardians help the other types, with growth generating Lanic to help you deploy more guardians.
To thrive you’ll not only need to position your guardians with care during battle, for instance placing units that slow enemies down near their spawn points, followed by attack or defence guardians, but you’ll also need a solid, well-balanced deck.
Each deck has five slots, and you can have up to five decks saved. Guardians, meanwhile, come to you through summoning and opening chests. You’ll get gems, gold, summoning tickets, and more by completing quests, bagging achievements, and so on.
The other way to get gold is by playing rounds, and you can spend this on upgrading your guardians and your masters.
The routine of alternating between tower defense rounds and doing the all-important reward-claiming busywork and managing your deck gives Guardian Chronicle an enjoyable rhythm, and rounds are so quick that it’s difficult to resist jumping in for another go.
There are some minor niggles, such as the small size of the units on the screen, which can make it difficult to work out what’s happening when the battle heats up.
And the lack of a single-player option leaves you at the mercy of the servers whenever you want a game. We never encountered any problems finding a partner or an opponent, but if you find yourself offline for any reason you’re stuck. But that’s not a deal-breaker. Check out Guardian Chronicle via the App Store or Google Play now.