Watcher of Realms preview - "A promising new entry into a tired genre"
| Watcher of Realms
Watcher of Realms foregoes the typical anime-style looks as is common in tower defence games of late, and instead envelops the player in a Diablo-esque atmosphere, so much so that even the heroes taking a breather around the campfire in the main menu invokes that same vibe.
But while the game ticks all the right boxes at first glance, does it have enough going for it to keep players immersed long after the initial shine dulls?
For this special preview, I was able to give the initial build a go - and suffice it to say that it's successfully got me hooked. I honestly can't wait for the official launch, because even underneath all the bells and whistles of the gorgeous-looking game, the core gameplay loop here is actually pretty engaging.
You'll go through a variety of stages that each has its own terrain-based challenge. Typical of the genre, you'll need to protect your main "base" against waves of enemies making their way towards you, and the best way to do that is to deploy units that are strategically placed on the grid-based battlefield. Melee fighters and tanks are best positioned up front, for instance, while ranged spellcasters and archers can deal the most damage from afar.
As you progress through the game, the levels will have different obstacles like tricky landscapes and multiple spawn points for enemies. Some monsters will fly straight to your base, while others can unleash devastating debuffs like AOE spells and poison effects on your heroes. All these add a layer of strategy to the game's combat - plus, you can only deploy your heroes after a certain cooldown timer.
As expected, there are other modes you can tinker around with in case you run out of energy. These include boss raids, dungeons where you can farm materials, and PvP arenas. There are also idle rewards you can collect for a quick boost, as well as a pretty cool calendar of events where you can clear missions and dailies to obtain 5-star characters from the gacha.
All these can be pretty standard fare when it comes to games in this genre, but what I appreciate most is how different the feels are compared to your run-of-the-mill anime-style gacha games dominating the market these days.
Of course, the preview build wasn't without its own set of hiccups. I did encounter some wonky voice-acting in a few story beats, which might have been because the version I played isn't the final build just yet. I also felt like I hit my level cap pretty quickly when upgrading my characters, as there were so many requirements needed to fully upgrade their skills and equipment. While it didn't feel pay-to-win to me when it came to the summons pool, it did feel like I would have to scale a paywall pretty soon because of all the required upgrade materials.
That said, the game definitely scratches that tower-defence itch I've only ever enjoyed in Path to Nowhere recently. Levels have just the right amount of difficulty to keep you strategising - there's definitely no auto-fighting your way out of a pinch here.
It's not the best game to dive into if you're looking for a quick time-waster, as even the auto-battle options in clearing dungeons require you to actually play through the battles in real-time - I mean that you'll have to watch your characters repeat the fight without the option of shutting off your screen or exiting to the main menu to focus on other things. This QOL improvement would definitely be a welcome update in future patches in my opinion, much like the feature in Dislyte where you can auto-fight in the background.
At the moment, Watcher of Realms is an interesting entry into a tired genre if you're looking for a high-fantasy setting with stunning visuals. It's worth giving it a go if you have the time to commit - it's not the best option if you're a busy bee who's simply looking to accomplish dailies and move on with the hustle and bustle of daily life in a few taps, though.