It takes something special to get me invested in one of the wave of mobile collectible card games seeking to ride on the overwhelming success of Rage of Bahamut—it took Transformers to get me to appreciate the appeal of the genre. With its eye-catching pixelated style, DeNA's D.O.T. Defenders of Texel threatened to be the next collectible battler to capture my attention, but then it fell flat.
Like the countless collectible card games flooding Google Play and iTunes these days, Defenders of Texel is all about collecting a series of units that increase in power as they increase in rarity. The key to success and progression is fusing together the sprite-based units built using resources either gathered during the story mode or purchased with real money into more powerful units. Sacrificing one unit to another is how you level your power players, while combining two of the same type of unit produces a similar unit with enhanced capabilities.
Players create a party out of these units and explore the game's story. Exploration consists of visiting a location and hitting a button to advance a meter, here represented by a pixel hero travelling along a path. This monotonous task is interrupted regularly by random battles.
Aside from the nostalgia-infused graphical style, these battles are what differentiate Defenders of Texel from other games in the genre. Rather than passively watching the game add-up statistics and compare them to the enemy's, here units are arranged in a three-by-three grid, the player tasked with selecting three-unit groups by drawing lines on the grid. The fights then unfold as they would in a turn-based Japanese role-playing game, units automatically casting spells or utilizing special attacks until the enemy forces lie in ruin. Each unit's health carries over across each battle in a chapter, and should one of them fall they'll be unavailable until the run is finished or they are healed using special items.
It's not exactly an active battle system, but it's a far cry better than simply watching numbers fly. Sadly the novelty doesn't last long, especially once the full effect of the game's brutal energy recharge system kicks in. A full energy bar allows the player to move 20 times before it's spent completely. It takes five hours for that energy bar to refill. That's a lot of downtime. I understand the idea is to tempt players into buying recharge items in the in-game store, but the idea is not to make it so painfully obvious.
This sort of hard-sell wouldn't be so annoying if the game weren't constantly crashing on my Galaxy Note II. And check out those button labels on the middle screen of the top image. Notice anything missing? Sloppy.
Lacking the multiplayer competition and trading of similar titles, there just isn't enough good in D.O.T. Defenders of Texel to keep me playing once the perfect pixel paint job dries.