With enough titles being released in the AppStore, a lot of them start to play similar to one another, and it’s not too often you’ll come across a game with some interesting mechanics. Lucky for us, there are developers out there that see and recognize this, and don’t want to just make a game that’s like other games, but a game that brings something, not necessarily new to the table, but something that‘s not done often, and can actually pull it off, fitting it into their game flawlessly. P@ssword Studios first release into the iOS scene just so happens to be one of these titles. Unknown Defender, a base defense arcade shooter in which you’ll need to mix up different types of energy to make new types of projectiles, also researching your opponents, and finding out what types of energies they are resilient, and which they are weak against.
The controls in Unknown Defender are pretty simple. You’ll drag your finger across the screen to control which direction you want your gun to point, and then tap on the different energies you have unlocked at the bottom of the screen to fire. Each different type of energy has a certain amount of shots in storage, so you’ll need to be careful when deciding what to shoot at the enemies. After the 5th Stage, you’re able to mix the energies you have unlocked, and can create much more powerful shots. To use these, you’ll need to make sure you have enough of the energies stored up, and then tap on your cannon, which will bring up a menu, brining the game almost to a stand-still, then deciding which mixture of energies you want to fire at the enemies heading towards the bottom of the screen. Once enemies make it to the bottom of the screen, they’ll start attacking your base. There are some enemies that will start attacking with projectiles of their own once they’re about halfway down the screen, which makes for some added strategy in deciding which enemies are a higher priority.
After each Stage, you’ll be able to upgrade your defense, and energies. Here, in the shop, you can unlock energy, upgrade it’s storage, recharge speed, your base’s defense, the mixed energy cool down time, and more. It’s here that you can also mix your different types of energy to create new projectiles. You’re given 18 slots to fill up, each with 2 different types of energy, and later in the game, 4 different types of energy. There are 34 total types of mixes you can make, so experimenting is key. You’re also able to see what types of enemies you will be facing in the next stage, here in the shop area. You’ll get a picture, along with a short description, and details as to what the enemy’s resistances and weaknesses are. Once you’re set, and feel comfortable, you can move on to the next stage.
Unknown Defender can be fairly challenging, especially when you’re new to the game. However, if your base looses all it’s health, “the machine” will turn back time, and let you face the Stage in an Easy Mode. If you fail again, you can keep replaying the Easy Mode.
After you get more accustomed to the game, there’s two more modes alongside the Normal Mode. Rush Mode, which offers weaker enemies, but more of them, and an Extra Mode, which is pretty much a Hardcore Only mode, offering the hardest challenge. Both the Extra and Rush Modes offer the same type of upgrades, and Stage 5 Mixing Energy options that the Normal Mode offers, but with different types of strategies involved. There are only a certain number of Stages in each Mode. Normal Mode has 25, while Rush Mode has 30, and Extra has 15.
For $0.99, it’s an excellent take on the base defense arcade shooter, offering multiple types of gameplay, and strategy, along with loads of experimentation with upgrades and energy mixing. There is no GameCenter or OpenFeint support, which does take a bit away from the replay value, as well as the drive to get the best score you can. It can also feel like your finger that’s controlling the direction of your gun gets in the way quite a bit, though, with the current set-up, and gameplay. But it’s fair to say that P@ssword has given gamers quite a bit of gameplay, with pretty interesting mechanics that are definitely worth checking out if you’re tired of the same games being basically re-skinned and sold within the AppStore. Here’s hoping they stick around, and release, at least, a couple more games for the iOS in the future.
Unknown Defender gets a score of 7 out of 10.