Defend the Highlands – Early Access (PC)

DefendTheHighlands01Looking for a game that’ll give you a fun and challenge experience as well as a good chuckle? Well that’s what Australian based developer Kilted Camel are all about providing. Originally conceived as a student project, Defend the Highlands is an amusing tower defence title that sees players defending Scottish soil from its bordering neighbours.

Humble pub landlord Alfredo lives out his peaceful life in Skanky Sporran village pouring booze and eating porridge. That is until he receives some rather distressing news. “Terrible news laddie. I’ve just heard that the Irish, Welsh and English have invaded Scotland.” After hearing this Alfredo sets out to rouse his fellow countrymen and kick the stuffing out of the invading forces. You’ll have to fight off the English cricket team, Welsh rugby supporters and gold loving Leprechauns. It’s the humour that inevitably wins players over with its fun stereotyping complete with terrible accents. It’s nice to see a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously but can the gameplay also support it and keep players interested?

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The game functions as a tower defence game but because it plays out on an open-world battlefield it also has elements of real-time strategy. Enemies will come at you from every direction, your main goal is to quell the attack and defeat all units in sight. Just make sure your main man Alfredo doesn’t kick the bucket otherwise its game over! The key to victory rests in farming oat fields to stockpile your porridge supplies, for without it you’ll find that your fellow Scotsman may not be so willing to join your cause. Speaking of your fellow freedom fighters, duking it out alongside you are your generic porridge throwing brawlers. You start off with just a handful but more can be acquired through the sweet melodies of your bagpipes. Well that is if you have enough porridge to fuel their fighting spirit.

Of course your troops alone can only do so much. As you progress through the main campaign you’ll also gain access to some nifty and bizarre weaponry. Take aim and blow your opponents away with…porridge cannons or take out your foes from distance with…a golf club. Some weapons are better than others. A lot of my strategies typically involved spending all of my hard-earned gold on porridge cannons and decimating my foes before they had chance to get near me. Others are vaguer with little instructing on how to use them like the whisky bar. As your battles progress you also find some heroic historical legends wanting to get in on the action including William Wallace and Robin Hood each with their own unique skills. William Wallace can deal more damage with larger ranged rocks and a sword for melee combat whereas Robin Hood can use his excellent bow skills to “shoot an Englishman in the nuts from 100 yards away.”

Defend the Highlands visually is unfortunately mediocre at best. Yes it has a nice cartoony feel but the character models feel a tad bland. As for the environment there’s some nice variation with the majority of levels taking place in forests and fields but it occasionally gets mixed up a bit such as the battle at the great Edinburgh Porridge Factory. The main issue with the environments is that they can be a little confusing to navigate. The mini-map is a little unhelpful and in forested areas your view is rather obstructed. There is no music per say other than the relentless drone of your bagpipes when you’re calling in for backup. Then again this also means you get to take in all of the amusing catchphrases like “save me shamrocks!”

So with this being in early access what can we expect to see in the future? Well actually this is nearly the finished article. You can fully experience the campaign mode and there are at present no plans to implement any other major features. What they are doing is using this early access time to add some final spit and polish to their game based on player’s feedback. All together you’re looking at a 6 hour campaign but this is also extended by Skirmish mode which allows you to play your own custom matches.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed approach to the tower defence genre then look no further. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges but that’s to be expected for an early access game. Defend the Highlands is a near finished title and offers a quirky playing experience. Highly recommended just for the number of times it’ll make you laugh.

This preview is based off an early access code of Defend the Highlands provided by Kiss Ltd.

This preview was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.

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