ValeGuard from Lost Tower Games
ValeGuard is a tower defense/light RTS hybrid with a smidgen of city-building. Tasked with protecting a string of villages and towns from assault by rampaging monsters ranging from demons to undead, the titular ValeGuard must muster up defenses in order to ensure that each village is not overwhelmed during night time assaults.
If ValeGuard sounds familiar, that’s because it is; fusing RTS with its own subgenre has had the result of creating something only mildly different from a conventional tower defense game. A simple interface allows for the development of defenses and a basic infrastructure for support, whilst direct control over units during night time attacks provides a slightly greater sense of tactical depth usually exclusive to the more demanding RTS genre.
Build by Day
The daytime construction process is relatively simple; iron, wood and food can be generated by assigning workers to corresponding tasks at the end of each day, whilst gold can only be obtained through events and selling other resources. These assets can then be spent to create weapons which in turn serve as an intermediary currency for buying troops.
I find this system touches on something I’ve wanted in an RTS for a long time: the need to create the gear that your soldiers use before equipping them. In a deeper, more detailed strategy game, I would relish the freedom to order battle axes, longbows and full plate from my smithy in order to custom build a flexible heavy infantry/archer hybrid but here this is just another step to plod through in order to buy a small selection of preset troops.
The Night Watch
Each night one of two things happens: either a random event occurs or a battle begins (sometimes the former leads to the latter). The random events are entertaining enough, but there is a very small list of events to cycle through and I quickly found myself encountering the same events over and over again. They are also relatively standard fare – a small selection of scenarios with variable positive and negative outcomes that are mostly luck-based (leading to an issue where gold can be somewhat bottle-necked by unfortunate event outcomes).
The combat itself is slow-paced, barring the need to manually activate the powers available to some units. Tactical challenges aren’t exactly demanding here; I found the classic method of placing tanky units in front whilst pulling ranged damage-dealers back was sufficient to deal with most situations.
In lieu of actual front line combatants, I found that by pulling my archers back I could just let the enemy become engaged with my durable (non-combat) buildings and then simply pick them off. You’d think an orc would be more concerned with the bowman firing arrows at him than the wall minding its own business.
Progress through the campaign is enjoyable in a way that tugged on my nostalgia gland. Heroes gained at the start of levels stay in a growing force as you progress through each mission, and it’s always nice to indulge in the simple customization options available as they level up. Each of the missions is split between a number of nights, and developing a solid force with this group of heroes as its core makes up the key challenge of most stages.
ValeGuard is a simple but pleasant amalgamation of RTS ideas that result in something packing little in the way of depth but somehow still evoking that “one more turn” mentality. The aesthetics are extremely rudimentary, and in some ways this feels like it would have been better positioned as a mobile game (especially with its bite-sized, night-by-night gameplay), but overall ValeGuard is an engaging little hybrid that may interest fans starved of an absorbing tower defense game.
ValeGuard is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for ValeGuard below: