Game Reviews

Demons vs Fairyland

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Demons vs Fairyland

Given the choice between demons and fairies, it's got to be Team Demon every day of the week.

Demons are the ones with the spikes, and the fangs, and the thirst for blood, and they're going to be much better in a scrap against creatures with nothing but dainty wings and magic dust.

Fortunately, you play as the bad guys in Demons vs Fairyland, a tower defence game from Armor Games. You've kidnapped some children and must defend your base against a relentless barrage of enemy units for a preset number of waves.

Picking a side

To do so you'll need to set up strategically placed defences along the paths that your foes are using. There are three basic types of defence: ground combat units that engage enemies in combat, projectile firing units that target individual creatures, and projectile units with splash damage.

These units need not only gold to purchase and upgrade them - making them tougher - but also a central location to draw their power, such as an archery training school. These cost gold to build too, and are four times as large as the basic defences, so where you place them requires long-term planning.

Prices for buildings and their upgrades increase as you create more of them, but each unit you destroy rewards you with Gold. Therefore a balancing must be struck that ensures you can keep fortifying your defences while covering potentially weak areas on the map.

Those weak areas will be stress-tested regularly: the game is really tough, even on the easiest difficulty. You begin the game fighting Rookies and Soldiers, but you're quickly introduced to tougher and more exotic enemies, such as the Champion, which soaks up damage; the Fairy, which cannot be attacked by melee units; and the Priest, which heals the troops around him.

How do you spell "IAP"?

When things get tough, you can call upon spells that are cast using mana, the meter for which builds slowly as you play. Again there's an extra layer of strategy here: do you raise the dead to give your ground troops a hand, or wipe out nearby enemies with the Chain Lightning?

When things get really tough, though, you might be tempted to use one of the premium abilities, and it's easy to think that the game's difficulty might be financially motivated.

Release the Golem, Sky of Swords, Bully the Kid, or one of the other abilities and you can seriously level the playing field, even when things are going spectacularly wrong for you, as they often are.

Alternatively, you can go back and practise in previous areas, trying to attain all three stars per stage, earning experience and gear to improve your chances next time.

Each level takes a long time to complete, which isn't perfect for playing on the go, but you can speed up how quickly a new wave enters the battlefield, getting an injection of cash as a nice bonus.

The other element that could easily be improved is the visuals. The cutesy troops are composed of pixels, but the landscape looks like a squidgy cartoon, and the two styles never blend together well. Animations are basic, as are weapon effects, and when combined these flaws create an impression of amateurishness that the core game mechanics do not.

If you can look past some shoddy presentation, and you're yet to tire of tower defence games, and you're looking for a significant challenge, then Demons vs Fairyland is a densely packed and rewarding title that will keep you busy until the next one.

Demons vs Fairyland

Demons vs Fairyland's visuals may be on the weak side, but it more than makes up for them in difficulty and nuance
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.