Conjurer: Awoken – What We Think
(Editor’s Note: This review is based on the trial version, available for free).
A wizard descends into ultimate madness and darkness, only barely managing to regain his humanity. Unfortunately, his otherworldly travels have unleashed the ultimate darkness on the world. Only he can stop the onslaught of mindless demons that threaten to feast on humanity.
Though it features some solid original music, the storyline and setting inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s writing in Conjurer: Awoken doesn’t mesh well with the bland, substandard tower defense mechanic that makes up the game.
Pew Pew Lovecraft Pew
The standard tower defense mechanics apply: Waves of enemy troops will try to penetrate your line of defense. Using magic and a handful of towers, you must stop them in their tracks. Your attacks are either fire or ice based (the former being an attack magic, while the latter will briefly slow a foe down. Any of your towers can hold a certain amount of charges of both elements, and charging will temporarily drain your mana.
Combining different levels of each element can also change the overall nature of the tower (AOE attacks, energy sappers, etc), though the exact balance required for each transformation isn’t revealed.
Targeted spells of either element can also be cast by tapping the screen in the desired location, and holding the screen with two fingers will create a larger spherical elemental strike.
Overall, the amount of customization is limited; there is no preparation stage at the beginning of a round – in fact, all of your towers are mapped out ahead of time on the field so you don’t have any input over where they are placed.
Experience points are collected at the end of each stage and reaching a new level will bestow a point that can be spent on a magical attribute. These added points will affect the selected aspect slightly.
Soothing Music, Savage Beast
The music does stand out as an attractive feature. In particular, the opening theme is a beautifully-crafted piano solo reminiscent of Nobuo Uematsu’s To Zanarkand from Final Fantasy X.
Unfortunately, the cuts between songs and sound effects are amateurishly blunt, abruptly cutting off the current song and pausing for a brief moment of dead air before the next song begins. Great though the tunes may be, they aren’t strong enough to save the game experience they accompany.
Charge! No…Not That Kind of Charge…
The tap-and-drag method of moving around the map is horribly flawed. Trying to chase enemies by moving the screen will often result in inadvertently charging up a tower. You don’t even have to touch the tower directly to have this happen. Now your enemies are even further away, and you have less mana. It happens frequently enough to be highly frustrating.
The visuals are very bland. The in-game menus are plain, lacking any thematic connection to the subject matter. In the battle screens, the graphics are marred by muddy textures. Magic effects seem to float above enemies and towers.
Tower of Babble
The Lovecraft-inspired story makes for a dark twist on a familiar genre, but it comes off ham-fisted in its delivery. The narrative cutscenes are overly verbose and mind numbingly long, to the point that it’s hard to attach them to the action.
Ultimately, a lack of variety in the overall enemy roster and clunky controls outweigh the pluses. The trial levels all play out in a similar fashion, and by the time I had reached the last one, I managed to clear it on my first try without losing a single life. You are then prompted to purchase the full game to continue, but with what I had experienced up to that point, I wasn’t interested in continuing.
Watch the official trailer for Conjurer: Awoken