Dungeon Defenders Review
I have to admit that I rarely revisit games I have to review. It's not that I don't enjoy them (unless they're truly abysmal), but once I plow through them, it makes them kind of hard to pick up again. Enter Dungeon Defenders, a game that blends two genres together so well that it has literally become my addiction.
Dungeon Defenders' premise is quite simple. A band of four heroes go against the odds to save the lands of Etheria by venturing through various areas that are constantly being overrun by goblins, trolls, ogres, wyverns, and other nasty beasties. Each area houses an Eternia Crystal that the monsters are drawn to, and it's up to you to place down defenses which will stop them in their tracks, as well as get your hands dirty and enter the battlefield with your character.
That's right, in this game you aren't simply tasked with setting down defenses and then watch as they mutilate passing by enemies. Instead, you take part in the action as you hack, slash, and shoot your way through the hordes of beasts as they desperately want to reach and destroy that crystal. As you're mutilating your enemies, you're able to pick up various loot that they drop in the form of armor (which unfortunately doesn't change the look of your character) or weaponry (which does!). Can anybody say loot whore's paradise? The governing resource that makes everything in the game possible is Mana. Mana comes in the form of multicolored diamonds that rain from enemies as they fall to their death. Whether it is the cost of each defense, leveling up every part of your gear, or buying weaponry or pets from the store, Mana makes the world go round in Dungeon Defenders.
The game starts off fairly easy, having you defend only one Eternia Crystal from multiple monster spawn points, but you'll eventually work your way to defending three at a time. Sprinkled in between some levels are boss fights, which always reward you with amazing weapons and gear if you can survive it. Leveling up your character, as well as your towers, is essential. You're able to give your character more health, more weapon damage, character speed, or increase the speed in which they summon towers, and similar leveling applies to defenses too. Not only do you unlock more powerful defenses (five in all), but you also unlock class-specific abilities, such as the Apprentice's ability to quickly summon towers when not in Build Mode, or the Squire's Blood Rage mode which sends him in a frenzy allowing double damage, speed, and armor.
Even though your characters are definitely useful when it comes to helping with crystal defending, the towers are always essential. However, each level has a defense cap, which means you can't place down unlimited amounts of towers. Instead, you need to strategically plan out the best locations for them. Also, every tower can be upgraded for a Mana fee of course, which once again gives you the edge over the ever increasingly difficult armies of minions.
The game can be fun when playing alone, but it shines with multiplayer. Up to four buddies, both offline and online, can team up and complement each other in defense-building and crystal-protecting. What's better is that each class is so drastically different from each other in terms of gameplay. The Apprentice relies on spawning slow-shooting but fairly powerful elemental towers, the Squire has a mix of melee and long distance offensive towers, the Huntress relies on placing down traps, and the Monk focuses on placing helpful auras. The two latter classes are definitely not meant to be played on their own, as their towers are far more suited for team play.
When you're not defending Eternia Crystals, you're able to visit the Tavern, which acts as the game's hub for upgrading gear, buying gear, socializing with fellow defenders, hitting practice dummies to find out a weapon's DPS, and selecting the next plan of action.
For a downloadable game, this game comes packed with content. Each character is able to gain up to 70 levels; there's massive amounts of loot to constantly collect and upgrade; various pets to buy and collect; four difficulty levels to master on each arena; a Survival Mode on each level spawning endless waves of monsters; a PVP arena to settle the score between you and your buddies; and a Challenge mode that changes up the rules of each completed level and will literally put your defensive and offensive capabilities to the test. You'll rarely have a dull moment of repetition.
My only small gripe with the game is the targeting. To do any damage, your character must first have targeted an enemy with an automatic lock-on, which makes sense for the two long range heroes but seems pointless for the other two. This can result in some cheap deaths when you're surrounded by a horde of enemies, only to find you're doing damage to a specific one, even though you're widely swinging your sword and technically hitting everyone around you. Since this only applies to the Squire and Monk, it's in no way a dealbreaker, but rather just a small annoyance.
It also helps that the game is very easy on the eyes. The cartoon storybook palette works wonderfully; each character as well as the enemies are caricatured, which only adds to the quirky personality this game already exudes.
Dungeon Defenders is a perfect blend of tower defense and action/RPG gameplay. It blends these two gameplay styles seamlessly into a cohesive experience that beckons you to keep coming back for more. Did I mention I'm addicted?
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]