Defenders of Ekron Review
In Vitro Games adds a bit of cinematic flair to the shoot-em-up genre with their title Defenders of Ekron. There’s no denying that this game breaks new ground with its presentation, but does it have the gameplay to match?
Defenders of Ekron Review
Those expecting to just jump into battle and blast away at baddies for an hour will be surprised at the way Defenders of Ekron is structured. There is an anime-inspired plot here, one with a military organization, a rebellious group, and a rookie pilot in training.
Told via dialog boxes between battle and a hub map, the game tells the tale of Eneas, a pilot of the Onyx Squad at the Petra Martial Institute. After completing his training, he finds out that he cannot get an Isvara, so he adopts a prototype “Oxus” setup for his Anakim unit to grow as a pilot and enhance his abilities. He does all of this while fighting against your typical insurgent groups, traitors, and other evil folk. It’s a pretty generic tale, one rife with cliche writing and “twists” you can see coming a mile away. Though it is something you typically don’t see in the genre, it gets annoying fast, if only because of how by-the-numbers everything plays out.
Gameplay changes form throughout the game. Some sections have you scrolling vertically, while others will give you complete control. Movement is done on a 360 plain, and a twin-stick shooter setup means you can fire in any direction you choose. Shots are on a cooldown mechanic, but this can be recharged. There is also a shield that you can pull up in the heat of battle, but some bullet patterns require you to use it as opposed to carefully navigating your ship – a questionable decision. Controls on the controller are a little imprecise, but a keyboard and mouse setup works surprisingly well here.
When the game goes on rails, it works as it should. However, the more free range elements can get tedious. Some areas have you taking out a series of enemies and turrets, which feels like busywork. There are other sections that use a setup that evokes the style of The Legend of Zelda or The Binding of Isaac. Players traverse a number of “rooms,” solving light puzzles and avoiding attacks. It’s a novel idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Trying to hit a specific target with a ricochet shot or dodging fire to take down a beefed up enemy takes far longer than it has any right to.
This leads to the bosses as well – they are huge damage sponges that take an eternity to take down. Players can upgrade their Anakim with Oxus dropped from enemies, and there is sometimes support, but when an enemy has multiple forms, it gets irritating. There are checkpoints available, but they are not enough to get past how long some of these sections go on.
Defenders of Ekron is an ambitious title that treads new ground, but the execution leaves something to be desired. It is just far too tedious, and though the new elements are welcome, the core foundation needs some work.