Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault is by far one of the most confused games I’ve played in a long while. I should clarify; the game itself is not confusing to play, but rather the entire experience and direction of the game comes off as muddled and lacking direction.
If you looked at any of its promotional art, you might peg Aegis of Earth as some sort of visual novel or JRPG. I was originally confused when I first booted it up; after getting through the menu, I was befriended by a rather peppy female commander, fully voiced and presented in that distinctive visual novel look.
Two minutes in, and I quickly realized I had been swindled. Full voice acting quickly gets swapped out for what I’m going to dub ‘half voice acted,’ meaning that while certain introductions and cutscenes get the full audio treatment, most of the time you’ll be reading text, with a few exclamations (Hey! Listen!) peppered in for good measure.
This isn’t a problem; after all, I’m a huge Ace Attorney fan, meaning I know all about reading for lengthy periods at a time. But then Aegis of Earth pulled another rug out from under me when I realized that I was playing a somewhat glorified tower defense game.
Unlike most tower defense games, which have you building and upgrading offensive and defensive units on-the-fly, Aegis of Earth segments its gameplay loops a tad more. Before a battle, you’ll perform upkeep on the city you’re trying to defend. Aside from collecting taxes from the citizens, this is when you’ll take the time to construct new weapons, which takes up both money and specialized crystal resources. A good variety of unit types and placement location is key, though to be honest, the game is fairly easy, even on the standard difficulty mode. There is an ‘easy’ mode available, though I doubt many will need to take advantage of it.
Once you’ve built up your defenses to your liking, you can then take on a mission, which has a level rating (which signals the difficulty of the enemy units), and a rough idea of what types of enemies you’ll be facing. As you might expect, enemy units run the standard genre tropes, from fast and nimble units which don’t pack much of a punch, but can overrun your city quickly, to larger more powerful foes which can attack from afar.
The main hook of Aegis of Earth is that rather than controlling units directly, or building units during battle, you will instead have built your units on different rings, or ‘zones’ throughout the city. When in combat, you’ll have to rotate these rings on the fly, in order to account for enemy units advancing from different directions. It’s easier than it sounds, mainly because the game explicitly warns you where enemies are approaching from, but there is some light strategy.
You’ll obviously want to ensure that you have the proper weapon types to take out specific enemies, but you can also rotate zones to align similar units, bolstering their offensive and defensive capabilities. It can get a little hectic managing all the units, but the game is pretty easy to begin with, so you can probably brute force your way through the 20 or so chapters.
Still, there are times where I’m quite confused as to what kind of game Aegis of Earth is trying to be. The very simplistic graphics don’t exactly shine on the PlayStation 4, but it’s the ring-centered gameplay that makes me think that the developers originally planned to develop the game for touchscreen devices.
There’s also a myriad of crystal resource types, which makes me think that the game originally planned to be either free-to-play, or was intended to be split up in chunks, mainly due to the game being divided into chapters. The minute-to-minute gameplay does have its moments, but I honestly found myself growing tired of the story, which does little to draw you in. I would be doing the game a disservice by labeling its as a time-waster, but I can’t imagine there are many people out there clamoring for a game like Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault.
I do have to commend Aksys Games for taking a risk on smaller titles like this one, and while I’m sure someone out there will enjoy this for what it is, most people will likely grow tired of Aegis of Earth long before it’s over.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which we were provided with for review.
If you're a fan of its anime art or simple tower defense mechanics, Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault might be worth your time, but it doesn't exactly have any major selling points.