The platformer/tower defense title has some surprising roots
Coming to PC, PS4, and Switch today, Aegis Defenders is a unique blend of platforming and tower defense that developer GUTS, and its influences will sound even more disparate.
Speaking to IGN as part of a larger look at the indie game scene on the Nintendo Switch, Game Director Bryan Kho teased Aegis Defender’s influences. And they are as disparate as Persona, Pikmin, and Overcooked, the latter of which played into GUTS desire to have players swap between playable characters more frequently.
“…We had an issue where some players wouldn’t want to switch between characters during combat and would have a harder time as a result,” Kho said. “ One way we addressed that issue was with our Fusion System, where characters need to combine items from other characters to create better ones and therefore need to switch. That system was actually inspired by the game Overcooked, where players work together on making food, because we were also trying to think of ways to promote more collaboration between players during cooperative play.”
Incentivizing the swapping of characters was a key element GUTS aimed to bring to the game, which began with a 2014 Kickstarter. And while Overcooked, which has seen its own success on Switch via a special edition, inspired some of the item-focused swapping, GUTS also endeavored to make hopping from one character to the other fun for combat.
“Another way that we tried to address players who wouldn’t switch characters was to introduce the Color-Coded Armor System, a basic damage system where the player simply has to match colors to know which character will be most effective against any given enemy,” Kho explained.
“This system is heavily inspired by Pikmin, which also uses color to clue the player in on what to do. Oddly enough, Pikmin also has character switching but the main thing we were inspired by was how their art direction helped focus the player’s moment to moment choices.”
But GUTS didn’t just worry about refining the gameplay — the studio also wanted to flesh out the world of Aegis, giving life to its characters via player choice in conversations. GUTS noticed some players loved reading every scrap of additional dialogue while others preferred skipping through everything to get to the action.
“Taking a cue from the Persona series, we tried to address both groups by adding small branching dialogues within each conversation,” Kho said. “It didn’t make the conversations that much longer, but it gave the player more opportunities to get to know the characters or at least have fun picking stupid responses. Those silly conversations are one of my favorite things about the game and hopefully, they will also help engage players who would otherwise just skip them.”
Aegis Defenders is now available on Nintendo Switch, PC, and PS4.
Aegis Defenders is being published by Humble Bundle. IGN Entertainment owns both IGN and the digital games storefront and indie publisher Humble Bundle. While we’re part of the same corporate family, IGN and Humble Bundle operate independently with a rigid editorial separation. IGN’s editorial team sets its own priorities without regard to whether or not a game is published or promoted by Humble Bundle. Humble Bundle makes no attempt to influence coverage on IGN.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN who has really been enjoying his time with Aegis Defenders so far. Find him talking about it and other things on Twitter @jmdornbush.