Dungeon Fighter Online Review
Arcade beat-‘em-ups have been in serious decline over the years, with the freshest content being old titles repackaged as console downloads. Dungeon Fighter Online revives the old-school formula and makes it shine.
DFO tasks the player with cleansing the land of Arad of otherworldly beasts and monsters. There are five classes to choose from; Fighter, Mage, Slayer, Priest and Gunner, and the U.S. release adds the female Gunner. Each class also has four subclasses (Priest has three), ensuring diversity among the high-level players. When starting out, every class has a backstory presented as a manga-style cutscene, and although it’s nice to see the origins of each character, all you really want to do is get in there and start busting baddies.
The button-mashing action truly steals the show. Anyone familiar with games such as Streets of Rage or Final Fight will feel right at home. This is a 2.5D sidescroller (limited vertical movement) with three buttons relegated to jump, attack and special attack. Skills can be executed with hotkeys, but the beauty of DFO is that each skill can also be performed by a button-combo. To have a truly authentic arcade feel, DFO also supports gamepads, which are an absolute joy to play with.
DFO has all the trimmings of an MMO - skills to level up, friends to party with, enemies to grief, and special abilities - but, as you mow through hordes of beasts and goblins, you seldom feel like you're playing an MMO. You still take on a plethora of quests, but boring fetch quests have been replaced by 'go out there and kick ass' quests. This seamless blend of beat-‘em-up action and MMO-atmosphere makes multiple hours of gameplay feel like mere minutes. And, if you're pressed for time, DFO excels at providing short bursts of entertainment.
Players can show what they’re made of in the PVP arenas. Matches can go from one-on-one, all the way up to four-on-four and free for all battles. More often than not, a Gunner will have an advantage over a Fighter, due to long-range abilities, and will result in quite a bit of frustration. PVP can yield some good rewards, but the imbalance between long-range and close-range ensures that tackling quests and slaying monsters remain top priorities.
HD visuals are almost a necessity nowadays, but DFO sticks to its guns with colorful, 2D sprites, so don't expect DFO to dazzle on that new 26" monitor. Some might be turned off by the pixelated characters, but it preserves the look of a '90s arcade games (Knights of the Round anyone?). Unfortunately, there is no initial character customization. Upon entering the world, you will be lost in a sea of clones until you make enough money (or use real money) to purchase items.
Avatar items change your appearance, often for a little bit of real-world coin, although there is still an abundance of free loot dropping from monsters to power-up your character. The only downside is that equipping free loot (aside from weapons) doesn't change the appearance of your character and only provides stat bonuses. It doesn't take away from the overall experience, but if you want to stand out from the crowd, opening your wallet for Avatar items is a necessity.
There is never a shortage of players, and the maps are a blast to play through multiple times on higher and higher difficulties. The branching subclasses diversify the experience during endgame, and PVP is included for those looking to throw down against their peers. DFO’s gameplay will eat away at your hours and keep you coming back for more.