It’s always helpful when a game has its genre in the title, and Merge TD Hero – Tower Defense is one such game. The “TD” presumably also stands for Tower Defense. Thus, its full name must be Merge Tower Defense Hero – Tower Defense. Developed by VividJoan Games, Merge TD Hero is a hybrid puzzle-matching multiplayer tower-defense game. Unfortunately, while I like tower defense games, Merge TD Hero doesn’t feel much like one.
Instead of towers or turrets, players recruit and upgrade various Heroes by randomly collecting cards from reward chests. There are 36 Heroes with a variety of functions. The Victory Singer, for example, buffs adjacent heroes. Meanwhile, the Coffin of Death teleports enemies back to the beginning of the path. Others slow enemies, generate bonus Energy Points or simply deal a lot of damage to a single target. Players can equip up to five Heroes in their Battle Group and spend the above-mentioned Energy to summon them in battle.
Not Quite Tower Defense
This brings us to the first main point where Merge TD Hero deviates from the usual tower defense gameplay style. Unlike in typical examples of the genre, players have no direct control over where there Heroes deploy. Instead, they spawn randomly on a 5 x 3 grid. That would normally be a problem for a tower defense game, but Heroes can strike enemies along their entire path. Instead of positioning, Merge TD Heros’ primary gameplay loop revolves around merging Heroes to increase their Star level. Doing so also randomizes the merged Hero, potentially replacing it with another from the player’s Battle Group. Players thus need to weigh the risk when combining their Heroes to level them up.
Another thing that makes Merge TD Hero unique is its approach to PVP. The game is exclusively multiplayer, with one vs. one and cooperative modes. However, instead of fighting their Heros directly, players fight separate streams of monsters with only limited direct interactions. Players can try to sabotage each other with certain spells cast from Energy. However, it’s mainly a contest to see who can hold out the longest against endless waves of monsters. The co-op “Duo” mode is functionally the same but with both players defending a shared base.
Unfortunately, while the titular Hero merging requires a bit of strategic thought, I found the game to be very repetitive and quite dull. Apart from the limited pool of bosses, battles consist of fighting the same green slimes every match. I also didn’t personally care for Merge TD Hero’s interpretation of “tower defense.” The best way to explain why is to compare it to another relatively recent mobile tower defense game, Toy Army Men Defense: Merge Turrets.
Toy Army Men Defense isn’t a perfect game by any means, but the developers built it around solid tower defense gameplay. In that game, players deploy different kinds of turrets to defend their base from a line of enemy toys. Different turrets deal damage at different rates but also have different ranges. Every level also takes players to a different map, with enemies following different routes. This means players need to optimize their turret layout to get the best out of each location.
Meanwhile, every zone in Merge TD Hero is functionally identical, consisting of a square path around the player’s Heroes. The player will see different backgrounds like castles, carnivals, cemeteries and volcanoes, but it’s entirely a graphical change. The simplified maps and infinite ranges combine to take away the core of the genre’s tactical decision-making. Its Hero merging is still something, but the identical enemies and battlefields make Merge TD Hero feel incredibly repetitive.
It’s hard to quantify the level of fun a game provides, but I was very bored playing Merge TD Hero after the first few hours. The Hero merging idea is fine but isn’t engaging enough to build an entire game around. I’ve played worse games for sure, and Merge TD Hero isn’t remotely as predatory as some other freemium Android games. However, it utterly failed to draw me in over the several days I had to play it.
Is It Hardcore?
Merge TD Hero – Tower Defense barely lives up to its name, ditching most of what makes tower defense fun. While it has one or two good ideas, the game is too repetitive and unengaging to be fun.