D.O.T. (iOS/Android) review
D.O.T. (aka Defender of Texel) is an iOS and Android game from DeNA/Mobage. The company highlighted the game in a recent “Community Games of the Year” email to all Mobage members as its offering with the best sound. It was released at the beginning of December and is available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play.
D.O.T. is essentially a well-disguised card-battle game whose main selling point in DeNA/Mobage’s eyes its its self-consciously retro, pixelated aesthetic, in which all characters look as if they have been plucked out of a Super NES or Sega Genesis game. Players travel through the game world completing missions, battling bosses and collecting treasure, and use some of these collected treasures to “build” new fighters to add to their party. Fighters may subsequently be “fused” together to make them more powerful, or evolved into new forms if they have been leveled up sufficiently.
Despite its structural similarity to other Mobage titles such as Rage of Bahamut, D.O.T. attempts to distinguish itself from the pack by offering a little more in the way of gameplay depth than normally provided. In other card battle titles, the single-player “quest” mode is usually a fairly hands-off affair that simply requires the player to repeatedly tap a confirmation button to expend energy and gain experience. In D.O.T., however, the player does simply have to tap a “GO” button to advance through each stage of a mission, but when they encounter an enemy they must battle them interactively.
D.O.T.’s battle system requires players to carefully consider the fighters they have in their possession, each of whom has a selection of statistics and some of whom have special abilities. Nine fighters may be formed into the player’s “band” at any one time, and these are arranged into a square formation. When the player encounters an enemy during a mission, they are taken to a battle screen and invited to choose three “lines” — horizontally, vertically or diagonally — from their band to attack the enemy in turn. The line chosen first attacks first, then the second, then the third. Characters with special abilities occasionally trigger these at random, and these tend to have significantly more powerful effects than normal attacks. As each line attacks, any remaining enemies also get the opportunity to attack each line, and if a character runs out of hit points, they are no longer available for the rest of that mission. Any lost hit points also persist for the remainder of the mission, so the player will have to mix up the lines they use if their forces are a little underpowered, or if the enemies get in some lucky hits.
After each battle, the player receives “class experience” points, which reflects their overall skill as a player and which restores the game’s energy system when they level up. They also have a random chance of attaining treasure, which varies from soft currency to various material items required to “build” various tiers of new warriors. The “build” option effectively allows players to draw new warrior “cards” from the various packs, and if they have sufficient quantities of the material items, multiple new warriors may be drawn at once to save time, making this a much less cumbersome process than in some other similar games.
Collected warriors may be “fused” together to increase their experience. If they level up, all their statistics increase. If a warrior is fused with another identical warrior, this is called a “self fusion” and provides a significantly larger experience point increase and also allows players to increase the warrior’s level cap. Leveling up warriors enough can also cause them to “evolve” into their next forms, which have higher stats and lightly different appearances.
D.O.T. provides a noticeable amount of more depth than many other card battle games, then, and the player is left feeling like they are actually doing something rather than repeatedly tapping a “confirm” button. The game is somewhat lacking in social features at this time, however. Players are able to add each other as friends, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of reason to do this beyond acquiring achievements at present. Player profiles and boss battles also have “walls” on which players can write, but these inevitably descend into nothing more than strings of players writing nothing but “add me” over and over again rather than attempting to actually engage in conversation. There does not appear to be a PvP mode implemented at this time — the game’s limited “battle points” resource is presently only used to engage in boss fights, and there does not appear to be a cooperative mechanic allowing friends to help each other in these conflicts, either.
That said, despite the lack of direct competitive options, there is plenty to do in D.O.T. There is a significant amount of content for players to work through, special dungeons that appear at regular timed intervals, and special events that occur every so often provide players the chance to compete against one another for the top spot on a leaderboard and in-game prizes.
D.O.T. is a good evolution of the otherwise rather stagnant card-battle genre, then. It remains to be seen if it will enjoy such enduring popularity as Mobage’s own Rage of Bahamut — a vastly inferior game both in terms of presentation and gameplay — but for now it’s a step in the right direction, at least.
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A good evolution of the card-battle genre with an attractive 16-bit pixel art aesthetic.