ReviewsReview: Defend the Rook

Review: Defend the Rook


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Tower Defence titles are perfect for a casual gaming session. They are simple to pick up and readily available in every mobile phone app store. I admit I’ve played my fair share of smaller indie games, but now I crave something more in-depth. Luckily, Defend the Rook offers the perfect solution with its wonderful story and familiar mechanics.

Developed by One Up Plus and published by Goblinz Studio and Maple Whispering, this is a fantasy Tower Defence game. The core concept is to protect your rook, no matter the cost! You are given three heroes, barricades, iced spikes, and spells to battle the onslaught of enemies. You must survive multiple waves and eventually defeat each main boss. On paper, it’s like every other TD title you’ve encountered. However, it has a few tricks up its sleeve to stand out.

Spread your forces and takedown each wave.

Defend the Rook is all about the grind. 

Most gamers will be instantly turned off by the word ‘grind’. Yet, lovers of this genre will know it’s a necessary evil. You will start a battle knowing that failure is very likely, and that is okay. The more hours you put in, the stronger your army becomes, and this is one of Defend the Rook’s key concepts. You must win battles to earn both money and XP for your heroes.

Sadly, however, this Tower Defence title incorporates rogue-lite elements. This infuriating twist adds another layer to the unrelenting grind. Subsequently, you get more gameplay, but the repetition levels are off the chart. So, how did the developers counteract this? They implemented permanent upgrades, ascendancy, and unlockable characters! These powerhouse additions must be purchased by improving spells, your machinery, or your units.

The story revolves around each leader’s desire to hold the most gems. They make each faction stronger, and everyone loves the sparkling allure. Therefore, it was fitting that the best improvements were purchased with this rare commodity. You’ll unlock new units, better temporary perks, and additional spells at the end of each run. It was both fascinating and exciting to see the new tactical advantages, though it was equally disheartening that you had to start from scratch again.

It’s upgrade time.

Grid-based combat. 

There are plenty of tactical options at your disposal and these are vastly important. Yet, the crux of the gameplay involves a deceptively simple grid-based combat system. You are armed with three heroes, a set of spells, combat towers, and the rook. Your troops can move and attack once per turn. The grid is coloured blue for movement and red for attacking options. You must plan the best way to use your forces as you defeat each wave and take down the end boss. 

As each round ends, you may choose a temporary perk, health boost, or revive a fallen ally. The choices you make here will give you a tactical advantage and are the difference between success and failure. You can add speed, power, armour, health, spells, and more. You are unaware of the foes you’ll face in the next round, so there is always an element of risk. 

Unlike other TD games that force enemies through a ‘tunnel of death’, Defend the Rook has a more open approach. You can’t simply place every strong unit in one place to pick off unsuspecting foes. No, you must navigate the map and use the environment to your advantage. This was excellent as it made the gameplay much harder and it forced you to contemplate every move. 

Defend the Rook has a simple but effective style. 

Defend the Rook won’t wow many gamers, but equally, it won’t offend many either. Its simple but effective style is supported by the clean-cut UI. The action is easy to observe thanks to the lack of clutter, and the theme is enhanced by the rich colour palette. Unsurprisingly, this basic affair has no graphical issues or frame rate drops. 

The audio follows suit with a suitably interesting soundtrack. You’ll enjoy a blend of jovial and angry tunes as each battle is contested. These songs are supported nicely by the simple sound effects and add to the fantasy theme. Sadly, however, a lack of spoken dialogue is an oversight! I’d have loved for each main character to be brought to life in the cutscenes. Unfortunately, this never materialised and you’re left wanting.

Can you avoid the seahorse creatures?

A great tutorial makes it easy to play. 

I’ve already highlighted the simplicity of the genre, but I expected this more in-depth experience to be harder to play. Luckily, a thorough tutorial makes it easy to understand, and I got into the action with little effort. However, don’t get carried away as the finer details require some work. The more complex tactics and the right lineup of heroes needs a fair bit of trial and error. So you’ll need to invest some time to get the right combination for you. 

This approach adds to the longevity and increases replay value. The aforementioned ‘grind’ may not be for everyone, but it’s an essential mechanic. Completing this and unlocking all the progress tiers will take many hours and a patient individual, so best of luck. 

Defend the Rook is a fantastic addition to the genre. 

Defend the Rook wasn’t a title on my horizon, but I’m glad I played it. It’s a phenomenal Tower Defence game that blends the usual mechanics with RPG traits and rogue-lite elements. It’s a bit of a grind-fest, but fans of the genre won’t mind. I loved the in-depth ideas and recommend you to buy it here! Can you control your small army of heroes and save the day? Plan your approach, destroy your foes, and bring peace to the kingdom. 


Defend the Rook is a fantastic turn-based strategy title with rogue-lite mechanics. Can you overcome the waves of enemies to win each battle? Upgrade your team, select your units, save the kingdom, and rescue your reputation.

+ Simple but well-designed graphics.
+ Interesting audio.
+ Simple controls.
+ The rogue-lite elements add longevity.
+ Interesting gameplay.
- No spoken dialogue.
- The rogue-lite elements may frustrate purists.

(Reviewed on PC using Steam. Only available on PC through Steam and
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email:
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Review: Defend the RookDefend the Rook is a fantastic turn-based strategy title with rogue-lite mechanics. Can you overcome the waves of enemies to win each battle? Upgrade your team, select your units, save the kingdom, and rescue your reputation.<br/> <br/> + Simple but well-designed graphics.<br/> + Interesting audio.<br/> + Simple controls.<br/> + The rogue-lite elements add longevity.<br/> + Interesting gameplay.<br/> - No spoken dialogue.<br/> - The rogue-lite elements may frustrate purists.<br/> <br/> (Reviewed on PC using Steam. Only available on PC through Steam and<br/>