Paradox Interactive, a developer of numerous Windows and Mac strategy and role-playing games, released their very first iOS app today, Defenders of Ardania. Dropping into the already well populated tower defense genre, Paradox is expecting to stand out amongst the rest due to Defenders of Ardania‘s more unique gameplay.

Most definitely providing a challenge, tower defense games use a puzzle solving-style of play. Basically, once a player has gone through the steps of trial and error to determine the proper placement of towers, there’s really nothing more to do than possibly upgrade them as the battle progresses. It’s very exciting gameplay, however, Defenders of Ardania adds a true problem solving component, real-time strategy, to make the experience nearly complete.

The combination of these two genres results in players being forced to decide on how much of their resources should be for defense and how much should be for offense. In this case, the attention still primarily leans to the defensive requirements. The conventional plan would be to fortify the nearby area, then reinforce and expand outward. Although, the decision will arise of whether to attack while opponents are weak or wait and build up a massive wave in hopes the other team isn’t prepared.

In order to make those decisions, it will be critical to monitor several items simultaneously. Most importantly, creating towers or units and casting spells uses mana points. For your notes, the mini-map is located in the top-left of the screen and surrounding are the displays for the rate at which mana is being replenished, total mana accumulated, and the fraction of towers built to total number of towers allowed. In addition, I’d highly recommend observing how well certain units combat the opponent’s defenses, glancing at tower health, and analyzing the opponent’s moves to anticipate your own needs.

My last mention will be of the gameplay modes. Campaign progresses through the story while slowly introducing the player to a couple new towers, offensive units, spells, and map per level. Skirmish is essentially “quick play,” offering access to all weaponry. Defend removes the RTS component, turning Defenders of Ardania into the traditional tower defense game of surviving increasingly difficult waves of enemies without needing to attack. Multiplayer provides one-on-one Skirmish play with a human opponent through Game Center. I will note that we’ve had at least one instance where Defenders of Ardania shows a Game Center error and, therefore, prevents access to the multiplayer mode.

Defenders of Ardania is compatible with iPad running iOS 4.1 or later, and available in the App Store for $4.99. The skirmish-only Defenders of Ardania Lite is also available in the App Store for absolutely free.