Defend the Rook is a condensed turn based strategy game at its core with the trappings of a roguelite. The main goal of the game is to defend your rook with your three adventurers, aided by powerful turrets and deadly traps.
The game strips the turn based strategy genre to the essentials. You only have four moving units to control in combat. The rook moves very slowly but can attack at a long range with low damage. It must be defended. If the rook is destroyed, the game is over.
The rest of the characters are your standard warrior, rogue, and mage type. After each wave of enemies, you can pick one of three random power ups for your characters. The perks usually increase damage, utility, or defense in some way. For example, one of my favorite perks is for the warrior where after dealing damage to an enemy unit, if their health is below three times the warrior’s current armor value, that enemy will instantly perish. It’s pretty handy for vanquishing high hp foes.
You also have at your disposal towers and traps that can be placed on certain areas on the map. You have a long range tower, a medium range tower, and a short range tower with the damage dealt by the tower being inverse to the range. In addition to objects you can place on the map, you also have access to spells that deal damage or buff one of your characters. For example, you have a spell that will deal ten damage to all enemies and one that will increase the movement range of one hero.
The map is pretty small so the action is quick. The enemies spawn in waves so you have to strategically place your units and towers or risk being wiped out. At the end of each level, you have the option to spend coins to upgrade your towers and traps and spend your experience to level up a small skill tree for each adventurer. You earn money and experience every time you defeat an enemy.
The game has a light narrative structure as well. You are a powerful mage summoned by the queen to help vanquish her foes but not everything is as it seems.
Overall, Defend the Rook is a pretty fun and fast paced turn based strategy game. The game simplifies a lot of the mechanics to make it more accessible and streamlined and focused on the combat. The element of randomness that most roguelites have also adds an interesting layer of depth to the game play.