Rarely have I been able to suggest that Aksys publishes games I find enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed Mind Zero and Zero Escape (999 and Zero Time Dilemma included), and I look forward to trying out Shiren whenever Gamefly inevitably sends it my way. Usually, however, Aksys is involved with publishing visual novels, the type of ‘game’ that I really have a hard time experiencing. Still, when I critically think about a number of Aksys published games – and as I try to be as unbiased as I can – I can’t recommend very many. Yet I still try to play as many as I am able to get my hands on.
Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault is a recent addition to the Aksys publishing family. Released on PC, PS3, PS4, and PS Vita, Aegis of Earth is a tower defense and city building(ish) game where you must build, protect, and expand the cities under your command. As the newest commander of remaining forces left to defend Earth after the silent apocalypse, you’re tasked with the upkeep of the small and understaffed town of Kimberley. At its helm is the young officer Towa, the arms expert Lovelock, the fleeting Tarkov, and the young Chisa. Each play their own role in defending Kimberley when the waves of enemies subsequently assault your town – and you, the commander, control it all.
Gameplay in Aegis of Earth starts off slow, as the first few chapters are more of a tutorial (a very lengthy tutorial) than in-depth gameplay. Still, the narrative is built upon this tutorial, so it is both necessary and helpful. There is so much going on in Aegis of Earth that, without dedicating these chapters to the tutorial, the game would probably be unplayable. As you level up your commander rank and city level by squelching hostile creatures and preventing Kimberley from taking damage, you earn more crew members, items to increase your battle rewards, upgrades for your city and weaponry (including your power USWs to fight bosses), and the keys to new cities.
Once you’re given command of Medina, the game really starts to speed up. As you fly between cities, population, happiness, altenite density ratings (a percentage of altenite – a substance – that indicates how close a boss is), crystals (used to develop and upgrade weapons, buildings, and recreation centers), and more increase and decrease in drop rates and become needed. Making sure your towns aren’t overpopulated or overproducing on too little energy becomes an almost intense task. I’ll admit, before I reached Medina, I was considering how boring the game could become. Once I began protecting just two cities, I understood how consuming Aegis of Earth actually was.
Now, controlling your city in Aegis of Earth during assaults and missions is really where the fun comes in. Each city has four rings, with ring one being closest to the center and your command building and ring four being the outermost ring. Within the first three rings, you can build any offensive structure, recreation building, power supply, or apartments. Ring four is dedicated to temporary units. Here, you can build barriers (defensive structures used to absorb damage), repair units, and facilities to absorb damage and send that damage to charge your USWs, and more. During an attack, you are required to rotate the rings of the city to fire upon your hostiles. Various weapons have strengths and weaknesses against corresponding enemies. A strike meter sits at the bottom left of the screen, indicating how many enemies you’ve eliminated and how many are left.
The presentation in the game is extremely simple. Characters are hand drawn and sit flat against the screen (in an anime style). The game takes place from the commander’s point-of-view, and each city is viewable through a screen situated in the command center. That’s it. Should you choose to back out of your city, you’ll be greeted by an operator (Chisa to begin with, but you’ll gain more) who gives you a choice of strikes to initiate (sometimes, you’ll have mission requests from headquarters with rewards, should you choose). Sure, you can switch to your R&D department to choose an upgrade or research a new weapon, but that’s the extent of the visuals.
My most pressing concerns, however, lie with the sound and soundtrack. The music, firstly, is just too loud. It overpowers the limited voices coming from the characters and booms through my television (yes, I’ve adjusted the in-game settings and lowered my television volume). Not only this, but the music doesn’t exactly fit the game. What little voice acting that exists in the game is solid, with the likes of Jameson Price lending his talents. Even here, though, the game falters. Yes, the actors do a superb job voicing their characters, but I must’ve heard each recorded line hundreds of times. It’s tiring – especially when the admiral rewards you for every strike and level up.
Aegis of Earth is a tricky game to consider. The overall experience is actually a fairly solid one, even allowing the various issues I’ve previously mentioned. For its relatively cheap price tag, you’re given hours upon hours of gameplay and a pretty challenging experience. Once you begin working with more than one city, the game truly takes off at a breakneck pace – you’ve just got to get yourself through the first five chapters. Overall, the strategizing is decent, the weapons are intriguing, and the battles are strangely addicting. Will this ever be considered for a game of the year award? Absolutely not – but it’s definitely a fun time consumer for those with the proper equipment and an itch to play a fun strategy/tower defense.