Knight Defense HD for iPad is one of the hardest games I have ever had to review and summarise, but rest assured that it’s for all the right reasons!

It’s just that it’s so unique in the gaming landscape and not like ANYTHING I’ve ever played before.

Knight Defense

It’s got an extremely unique, refreshing and fun feel to the gameplay mechanics, with elements of strategy, action, tower defence and quick thinking tactics. It is very stable and polished to play on touch screen, in fact, I think with a mouse it would be uber-stressful to play!

As you probably know, the game is based on the rules of chess; at least in terms of how your own pieces can move and attack. However, the enemy spawns from fixed spots on the board and move in straight lines towards your King, whom you have to protect through several waves of increasing enemy numbers to complete a level.

Quite honestly, the concept of the game is so pure and comfortable from the off that I’m massively surprised nothing like this has been seen before (at least not by me!). Basing a game on the best real-world game ever devised is pure genius game design really!

The most captivating thing about it is that you can immediately sense there are dozens of ways you can approach your game, from a strategic and tactical point of view.

At the start of a game, you’re allowed to arrange your pieces on the board before activating the enemy waves, so this is your first decision! What arrangement will give you the strongest defence placement and coverage, bearing in mind how pieces can ‘attack’ (for example castles in vertical or horizontal lines, bishops in diagonal lines, pawns 1 square forward and to the side etc).

Secondly, you can use your points to upgrade pieces (8 tiers each, with each upgrade costing incrementally more) but by doing this you take points away from your final score, so you have to balance what strength you think you need versus getting a bigger score for the Gamecentre or OpenFeint integrated leaderboards, if you are so inclined.

Possibly, most intriguingly, your pieces positions are not fixed once the game starts! You can slide pieces around according to the rules of chess and you may have to move other pieces out of the way if you want to get some ‘troops’ forward if their moving path is blocked. This makes for some frantic repositioning mid-game as your defences get broken down.

Some very balanced subtleties come into play such as realising that you can guide the direction of the enemies charges by moving your King around, thus leading groups of enemies into ambushes or even riskier moves such as getting them to go back up the board into the line of fire for a second time (to start with, the human player is at the bottom of the screen, with enemies coming down at you from their spawn points).

Also, when you use some of your points to upgrade a unit, it also replenishes any damage they have taken, so by timing your upgrades when damage has been done you get the added bonus of restoring their health “for free”.

Each unit has a cool-down timer, which regularly unlocks a special ability (each piece having it’s own) which can really swing the situation in your favour if used wisely.

All of this combines to make one of the most interesting, varied, compelling, fresh and skilful strategy games I’ve played. It’s the sort of thing you could get really ‘pro’ at!

Visually, it’s stylish, smooth and colourful, but has a mature feel to it. Sound effects and music complement the action well, rounding off the experience. It is a very stable program with some well implemented features.

I’d love to see how the game progresses with updates. Hopefully it will be successful enough to allow the developer to add some sort of real-time multiplayer mode. This could be the competitive equivalent to StarCraft for the iPad!!

All in all if you like games that require some thought but are easy to learn and to conceptually understand, but with a lot of room for developing your own strategies and ways to play, I can recommend Knight Defense HD very highly indeed!