For those of you who don't know, Army Of Darkness is Sam Raimi's third Evil Dead film that threw off the gory, claustrophobic horror trappings to deliver a hilarious medieval adventure romp. It's a cult classic (and worth an immediate watch), but like all great films, sooner or later a cynical, rushed and hopeless app will come along to try and milk some more cash out of the franchise.
Army Of Darkness Defence, however, manages to break the mold by actually being great fun... without resorting to tower defence. Gimme some sugar, baby!
Army Of Darkness Defence sets its sights on the final siege scene (apologies for spoilers, but seriously, you should have watched it already) where an undead horde is hellbent on storming Camelot to regain the ghoulish Necronomicon book. As Ash, the chainsaw-armed boomstick-wielding hero of the hour, you'll need to keep the scrolling army from reaching their objective using accessible 2D scrolling gameplay.
Rather than opting for tower defence mechanics (thank God for that), Army Of Darkness Defence plays out a little like the Epic War series. Your hero, Ash, is extremely powerful and easy to control - but a constantly replenishing iron supply allows you to create new allies to advance towards the approaching horde and beat them back through the castle courtyard. Peasants, armoured knights, healers and heroes can be deployed and upgraded between missions - and the scope for different units and strategies is surprisingly deep.
Between waves, you'll be able to spend your winnings on upgrades to your forces, the castle or even Ash himself - and failing a mission still rewards you for your time. Every defeat is still a minor victory that makes you more powerful... and the persistent upgrades naturally add the major addictive draw that most successful apps rely on.
Moving Ash is as simple as holding the left or right sides of the screen - and you'll just have to tap the relevant icons to deploy units or unleash regenerating special moves. The learning curve is absolutely spot on, and there's no fiddly interface or tricky controls to contend with. Army Of Darkness Defence is fun regardless of ability or experience, and brilliantly, there isn't a turret in sight.
Finally, it's worth noting that Army Of Darkness Defence contains plenty of nods to the fanbase. References to classic scenes and lines of dialogue abound - and it's great to see a cash-in that actually treats its source material with the respect it deserves. Whilst having great fun with it, of course. Hail to the king, baby.
However, the experience will ultimately be boring, confusing and annoying to newcomers who haven't watched the movie - and who don't love it to bits. This is definitely one for the fans, but a damn fine effort nonetheless.
- If you didn't understand the Pros, you probably shouldn't buy it.
Summary: Army Of Darkness Defence is a fantastic homage to the original film and a genuinely excellent game in its own right. Come get some! Newcomers, however, may find the whole thing a bit pointless.
Developer: Backflip Studios
- SD Version Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
- HD Version Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.