Aegis Defenders mixes action and tower defense with a Miyazaki-inspired visual style.
Have you heard the name Hayao Miyazaki? How about Studio Ghibli? If you hang out in the many circles of nerdom and fine films, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard those names at one point or another, at least. Often referred to as the Disney of Japan, Miyazaki and his studio are responsible for some of the greatest and most iconic Japanese animated films of all time, including Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and, most important to this project, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. This is beauty in a world full of as much glory as hardship. This is Aegis Defenders.
Aegis Defenders takes place in a world called Elam, a place where ancient technologies lie hidden within the wilderness, lost to the ages. Those who control these technologies have all the power, leaving very little for anyone else. Things have gotten to a point where once-common technological items like televisions and microwaves have become regarded as black magic among the lower folk, while powerful AI constructs are revered as Elam’s gods. You play as Clu and her grandfather Bart, a pair of ruin hunters searching for the one thing that can save their village and turn the tides against those in power.
Aegies Defenders operates on a creed of three distinct objectives: explore, build, defend. As far as the first goes, Elam is a huge place full of old technologies and cities long reclaimed by nature, full of darkness, mystery, and hand-painted pixel beauty. Building, meanwhile, takes multiple forms. You can build up your characters, of course. Bart and Clu are an Engineer and Hunter, respectively, and both have unique skill sets that you can level up and expand as you progress. (more classes are planned as stretch goals, but we’ll get there) Building also concerns Barts role in the game, as the builder of weapons for both other characters and the battlefield at large.
Defence is the the name of the game in Aegis Defenders’ gameplay. It’s literally right there, in the name. (you’re welcome to leave hate mail in the comments about that joke, I’m ready for you) Tower defense situations are common throughout the game, going from your typical stationary fare to defending things that might move, have special abilities, or might resist being defended at all. All of this goes hand in hand with the game’s dynamic character switching system, wherein you can hop between your characters in real-time to position them and set them up for battle, using their passive abilities to prioritize who deserves your attention most in the battle at hand. That said, the game clearly isn’t afraid to get creative with how it utilizes character swapping, and will be moving out of tower defense territory when necessary.
Aegis Defenders is being made by Guts Department, a newer indie studio with a few small projects such as Bloom and Anemnesis out already. The team is a group of students and teachers working together, as well as several collaborators helping from outside the core team. Also involved is Power Up, the sound design team responsible for the music and sound effects of Towerfall: Ascension, Timespinner and more. The audio is said to be a blend of Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, which sounds like a glorious proposition to put in your ears.
Aegis Defenders has only been on Kickstarter for a short time, but is already hurtling with determination towards their initial goal. Luckily, Guts Department came ready for success, and has some stretch goals in mind for the future. Past their $65,000 initial goal, stretch goals include additional character classes, a horde mode, local co-op, Playstation 4 and Wii U versions, and even more to be announced as time goes on. Reward tiers go from your standard game-and-soundtrack fare to exclusive in-game weapon skins and power icons, digital and hardcover physical versions of the Aegis Arcana art book/world guide, beta access, a backstage pass to Guts Department’s bi-weekly livestreams as a guest, having an in-game area named after you or designed by you, and a LOT more. Like, seriously. These guys went all-out with the rewards, for those willing to pay multiple hundreds of dollars. Because we all know that somebody will!
Go ahead and pay tribute to the technological overlords at Aegis Defenders’ Kickstarter page, which is full of even more in-detail information about the game’s world, characters and history than I can fit into this article in good conscience. The team breaks down exactly how all the money will be spent, a plus for a lot of tentative donors. If you, like I, have an extreme fondness for the more fantastical and epic Studio Ghibli films of years long past, revive those relics in spirit by checking out Aegis Defenders.