Nov 2, 2011

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Dungeon Defenders Review

Dungeon Defenders Review

Dungeon Defenders is the newest addition to the ever growing tower-defense hybrid genre. Much like Doublefine did with mech shooters in Iron Brigade (formerly Trenched), Dungeon Defenders infuses the hack-and-slash RPG with tower-defense elements, creating an experience that feels unique, yet very familiar. Trendy Entertainment has stated that they feel digital distribution deserves the same AAA treatment that retail products receive, and believe that their game Dungeon Defenders is one of the true AAA downloadable titles on Xbox LIVE. The question now is, is it?

Dungeon Defenders is a co-op title for up to four players with four classes to choose from. The Monk, Squire, Huntress and Apprentice are at your disposal, and while each may seem similar in the beginning, leveling up reveals their unique abilities and inherent strengths. Besides each classes’ different towers, characters can be as unique as players make them. Points earned from leveling up can be distributed to an assortment of stats, covering speed, strength, overall tower abilities, and other obvious areas. Characters themselves can be customized, though not as extensively as one might hope. Equipment can vary, though the only visible differences come from unique weapons or different color schemes for each hero. This doesn’t necessarily take anything away from the gameplay, but more ways to further differentiate your character would be a welcome addition in a future update.

Gameplay itself has players defending Eternia crystals by way of hacking enemies to death or creating towers to do the dirty work for them. There is an actual plot, though it’s hardly worth mentioning and can be easily skipped over. Players have their choice of around a dozen different maps, which progressively get harder with more enemies, more entrances for said enemies, and more crystals to defend. Luckily, towers can be built quite simply, and enemies drop mana by the bucketful, making it easy to beef up your defenses. There is a limited amount of tower defense units that can be used at one time, so players will have to plan accordingly. The towers themselves work well, and the variety provides many different ways for players to map out a solid defense. The slashing itself is somewhat lackluster, though, and can quickly grow repetitive. Furthermore, while levels may be different in design, aside from a few unique enemies here and there, gameplay remains largely unchanged throughout the entire experience. However, games that require grinding like this are rooted in monotony, and the appeal of higher levels and more epic loot will force players to want to continue playing. Thankfully, the gameplay itself is quite fun, so replaying levels is enjoyable and doesn’t feel like a chore. Also, there are different challenges to tackle, four difficulties, and unique ways to play each map (like towers only) to help switch things up. Throw in the fact that the game scales based on how many players are present, and you’ve got a pretty solid game all around.

Dungeon Defenders isn’t without its faults, though, but none seem to be game breaking. There are some areas where clipping becomes an issue, and often when an enemy bounces from an attack from a tower it can somehow glitch past it. Also, the enemy detection becomes spotty, especially with the Squire, who will often target enemies the player isn’t intending to attack. But by far the biggest issue players may have with Dungeon Defenders is solely based on how much you enjoy multiplayer. This game was designed with co-op in mind, and as such, is incredibly more fun with additional players. Flying solo can pit you against about 100 or so enemies, but toss another player into the fray and enemy totals multiply accordingly (it’s nice to note that there doesn’t ever appear to be any slowdown regardless of the incredible amount of enemies on screen at one time). Replaying levels over and over is fun with good friends, but on your own the experience is lacking and should definitely weigh in on whether you feel this game is worth purchasing.

Dungeon Defenders is a solid title that can provide numerous hours of gameplay, both fun and varied. Its tower-defense-based gameplay is very enjoyable, and its use of multiplayer produces some of the best co-op on XBLA this year. Depending on your view of multiplayer or quality of friends, I’d bump my overall score either up one point or down. This may be a perfect union of the two genres, but much like the sum of their parts, they’ve inherited many of their flaws. Though with beautiful graphics and an overall game that’s incredibly enjoyable, at $15, I’d say it’s worth a download.

Dungeon Defenders
Platform: PC, PS3. 360 (Reviewed)
Genre: Tower Defense/Action RPG
Release Date: 10/19/2011
Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Publisher: D3Publisher of America
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
MSRP: 1200 MSP/$14.99