Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 6:05 PM by Tim Bowers
Dungeon Defenders – Review
Tower Defense. A few years ago this genre had been consigned to the graveyard of gameplay history. Who wanted to take time strategically placing towers, walls, and barriers to defend their castle against a never-ending horde when they could pick up a polygonal gun and shot someone in their pixelated face? Thankfully though the times they are a changing. Don’t get me wrong, people are still picking up guns and shooting each other in the face but thanks to mobile/handheld gaming the Tower Defense genre is enjoying something of a renaissance.
Dungeon Defenders is Trendy Entertainments first foray into this market and after a delay of a few months it finally arrived on the PlayStation Network Europe last month. Before arriving in Europe the game had done exceptional business overseas selling 600,000 copies over the PSN, Xbox Live and Steam. That shows that there is a market for this kind of RPG-esque Tower Defense game so I was eager to get my hands on it and see what all the fuss was about.
The game revolves around you defending Eternia Crystals from various nefarious baddies who will pour out of any number of doors and attempt to smash the crystal. Your job is to stop them from getting that far by placing defenses in their way and also running around attacking them yourself. The game gives you four classes of “hero” to help you achieve this goal.
The four classes of the game are The Squire, The Apprentice, The Huntress and The Monk. If they sound familiar that’s because they are. Four Player Co-Op characters haven’t really changed much since the days of Gauntlet.
The Squire is your powerhouse and deals with melee attacks, Apprentice is the magician and is your ranged attacker, The Huntress is a sneak attacker and will roam the play area laying bombs and traps, The Monk is your First Aider, providing help to other characters, boosting the defenses on towers and casting draining auras on enemies.
I’ll give you two guesses as to which one of the four classes is the most popular but you’ll probably only need one, and while it is tempting to power up the game, pick Squire and go kick some trolls, in order to actually enjoy and complete the game you will need a fine balance of all four characters. Unlike other multiplayer/Co-op games where you can play independently of each other, Dungeon Defenders actually requires you to work together and plan attacks and defenses in a similar way to Portal 2’s Co-Op tasked players to work together to solve the puzzles.
Early on in the game there is only one crystal that makes defending it quite a simple task, later on however the number of crystals grows, as does the amount of baddies and the number of doors they will come out of. With 4 different players running around the “arena” as well as innumerable bad guys it can all get a bit confusing and some kind of strategy is required as you may find yourself losing more often than not.
Trendy Entertainment has also managed to make this more than a simple Tower Defense game by including RPG elements. As you defeat enemies you will gain Exp and eventually you will level up. When you do level up you can choose to either make your defenses stronger or make yourself a more powerful hero.
Killing enemies will also release mana which is used to build the defenses, occasionally enemies will drop weapons that you can then pick up and keep and in some cases upgrade. Some enemies will have resistance to the games four main elements and others will have weaknesses so there is a need for you to assess each weapons benefits rather than just picking the one with the highest hit score, not every weapon will help you – some may hinder depending on the type of player you are.
Treasure chests can be found that also contain mana and sometimes armour for you to make use of but unlike with weapons you’re appearance will never change based on what you select, your character will always look the same – it’s just what he/she hits with that will change.
Graphically the game is very nice to look at, makes good use of the Unreal Engine 3 and walks that fine “Wind Waker” line between cartoonish and serious. I did notice a bit of lag on some later levels when there was a lot of action going happening on screen but it didn’t impact too negatively on the gameplay so it can be forgiven. The PSN version also boosts stereoscopic 3D and PlayStation Move support for those inclined to that sort of thing.
Dungeon Defenders is a well thought out, clever and fun addition to its genre. Don’t be fooled by it’s appearance or gameplay, there is more to this game than meets the eye and will certainly keep you busy for many many hours.
Dungeon Defenders is rated PEGI 12+ and is available for download now on Xbox LIVE®Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points, on PlayStation Network and Steam for £7.99
Dungeon Defenders Trailer:
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