Dungeon Defenders Review
Dungeon Defenders is a surprising success. What began life as an Android phone game quickly expanded to PC and Steam and now, finally, on Xbox 360 and PS3.
It’s a simple concept that blends a range of genres, from traditional tower defence, hack-‘n’-slash RPG and loot-gathering of games like Diablo. It’s easy to see how the genres mix together, but the results are far more exciting than they might sound.
Tower defence is the crux of the game as each stage pits the chosen character against increasingly difficult waves of assailing opponents. As is typical of the genre, these enemies vary between weak but many, slow but strong, aerial assaults and even ranged attackers.
Defence is handled by constructing towers, each of which is determined by your character’s class. There are four to pick from: the close-ranged Squire, the magical Apprentice, the ranged and powerful Huntress or the defensive Monk.
Take the Squire’s towers: all physical attacks that deal damage in a close range while holding the enemies at bay. The Apprentice, however, can build towers to cover large areas, and deal damage to multiple enemies.
It’s a simple system that helps conform to the staples of an RPG. As each wave is defeated, XP is earned and level-ups unlocked. This opportunity helps craft a character specific to your playstyle, whether that’s all out player offence or the strategic placement of towers.
Since each class can take to the battle themselves in hack-‘n’-slash combat, the swathes of loot that are dropped by enemies become more and more important. Whether that’s collecting a crossbow with minimal improvements to overall damage or armour that increases your hero’s health by one, it’s a system that really caters to the loot-whores of the gaming world.
The latter rounds of each wave can get pretty hectic – even more so in co-op.
But none of this really highlights just how mental Dungeon Defenders is. Stick it on hard (or even insane) and the later waves are a blur of brightly coloured enemies and even brighter mana crystals that act as the game’s currency.
You can only be in place at one time, after all, so keeping track of proceedings as you oversee each wave becomes the main challenge, ensuring your defences remain secure while you stay alive.
Then there’s co-op, which brings added hilarity to each level as you compete for mana crystals and work together to take down the tougher enemies. And yet with a limited build phase during insane difficulty, you won’t succeed without the assistance of a friend.
Dungeon Defenders is easily one of the best downloadable games released for a long time, with plenty of content to wade through – ranging from increasing difficulties to a set of challenges that mix up your tried-and-tested tactics.
However, it’s not quite perfect. Unfortunately there is a balancing issue that makes two of the classes (Apprentice and Monk) practically useless. An upgraded Squire can hold down any fort, while a damage-per-second focused Huntress can slay her way to victory.
It’s a shame because it makes both the Apprentice and the Monk unlikely choices in co-op, since they offer little in the way of assistance alongside the other two. It would have been better suited for Trendy to finely hone each class, to give every preference added longevity.
But since you’ll have to put a lot of time in – and we mean a lot – to ever discover this problem, it’s not something that really acts as a detriment to Dungeon Defenders.