I’ve always been a fan of tower defense games. From the first time I played a Warcraft mod back in the day. So it’s no surprise then that I would be instantly fascinated with any game in the genre for VR. Especially since virtual reality adds a new layer of interactivity to the genre, and Alchemist Defender VR from Treeview Studios probably epitomizes this perfectly. Because not only is it a tower defense game, but it also has some pretty fun first-person combat elements.
So Alchemist Defender VR released in Early Access on Steam in March 2017. Now, the developers are ready to release it in full today for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. I got to give the game a try using Vive and was pleasantly immersed in different worlds within seconds of starting up the game. It wasn’t hard to get into at all, however, it is quite difficult to master. As you’ll see in the video below, I was pretty excited about my wins because it took me awhile to get them. Which could just speak of my epicly lacking skill level, but I think what made me go back every time is because the game has a steep difficulty curve. Which is what you want in a good tower defense game, to be honest.
Check out my gameplay of Alchemist Defender VR:
What makes this game interesting is that it’s not just your average tower defense game, it actually allows for some first-person combat as well. So you can alternate between placing your towers to block off those pesky little critters trying to make it to your portal, and you can fight them off. Well, you have to do both. You can’t really survive it if you don’t do both. There are three types of towers that can be placed in the game, and they’re pretty straightforward. You get the tower that shoots arrows, a frost tower with a crystal, and the mortar tower that shoots bombs. Each tower has a different fire rate, damage rate, and range of course. So it’s better to buy strategically. Though I got through okay by just going with the cheapest option (the arrows) because money is pretty hard to earn in the game.
You earn money by dropping down from the birds-eye view to ground level so you can fight off the critters trying to pass through. I absolutely enjoyed this addition to the game because it lets you be actively involved instead of just waiting for your towers to get them and more money to come in so you can buy more towers. Of course, there are some weapons options here as well. Each map in Alchemist Defender VR offers a different melee and ranged weapon to work with, however, they all still do pretty much the same job. I still appreciated it though, because it adds some variation to the game, as well as replayability. Plus some weapons really worked better than others. Nothing beats a little hammering.
That being said, the blink teleportation, which becomes available once you shrink down to a spot on the ground, irked me a bit in Alchemist Defender VR. Not because I hate that mode of movement but more because it doesn’t work well with the fast-paced gameplay. I kept teleporting into the critters who would run right through me or elements of the environment in my haste to keep up with the hordes. So some other options here would have been nice.
It’s Very Basic
You only have ten health, which means that only 10 little critters can get through that portal before you lose. Which sounds like a lot but it really, really isn’t. And it’s really easy to fail in this game. Well in my experience. Maybe I’m just sucking at it, you know. Anyway, there are 10 waves per round and four rounds per level. Each round is played on a different world, because apparently, the character you’re playing in this game wants to harvest the energy of these worlds. However, there isn’t really much of a storyline here.
The story goes that the person you’re playing is some masterful alchemist who is trying to create the philosopher’s stone and by doing so you are visiting various worlds through portals. But of course the inhabitants aren’t too happy about that and they’re fighting back. So you build towers to shoot at them, naturally. But the game doesn’t really give you a sense of that. There’s no acting, there are no NPCs, there’s no storyline to be honest. But it’s still quite fun to play.
Overall, I found the game enjoyable but a bit shallow. It had a lot of great potential due to the combination of tower defense and first-person combat, but it just falls a little flat in terms of the amount of content for me. I still enjoyed the game very much and it looks great visually, but I would have liked to see some more towers or some sort of progression system where you can unlock more weapons or towers. So in its essence, Alchemist Defender VR is just a very basic tower defense title with some first-person combat elements thrown in.
The full Alchemist Defender VR game is available now on Steam for $14.99.