Dungeon Defenders Review
Don’t wander into this dungeon alone.
It would be easy for me to dismiss Dungeon Defenders as ‘just another tower defense game’. But that would be really unfair as it’s a game that’s much more than that. Though the core mechanics might seem similar, the game still has a few interesting twists that will have you pressing forward.
Dungeon Defenders pits you across multiple dungeons and puts you in control of four hero classes – the Apprentice, Squire, Huntress, and Monk. Each class has a different set of abilities and combat elements, and you’ll soon find that they are very different from each other. The Apprentice is the magical character, and can shoot bolts of energy at enemies or can summon towers to shoot fireballs or mana bolts. The Squire is essentially the tank class, and construct strong defenses and barriers to obscure enemies. The Huntress is an expert at laying traps, while the Monk can summon auras to damage or slow down enemies. Each level is made up of several waves of enemies, and each wave is divided into a build phase and a combat phase. In the build phase you can construct defenses, summon towers, make repairs, and generally improve the defenses of your dungeon. At the heart of your dungeon is a crystal that must be protected at all times, so you will need to strategize when placing your defenses. Once you’ve set your traps and towers, you activate the battle stage, where several doors in the dungeon are flung open and the hordes of orcs and other baddies come invading into your realm. It’s worth pointing out that during the build phase, each door will list the number of enemies left behind it, so you’re able to concentrate your defenses in a certain area.
In addition to setting up your defenses and guarding your crystal, Dungeon Defenders also rewards you with loot for your character as you vanquish your enemies. Essential gear, potions, and other bric-a-brac are quickly added to your inventory, and you can easily swap between items or equip better gear to any of your heroes. It’s here where the game tries to break the mould a bit by tinkering with a tiny bit of RPG finesse. But even though this does introduce a bit of variety to the game, it’s merely an accompaniment to the tower-based gameplay. Nevertheless, it’s still nifty to be running around the dungeon looking for the next best weapon to use or nabbing mana crystals. You also gain experience as you complete dungeons, and can spend your experience points by upgrading either your character or tower stats.
Speaking of running, this is where I run into what I feel is the game’s biggest flaw – it’s just too much to do alone. Sure, the first few levels you’re able to hold your own and sweep over the incoming waves, but as the waves press on in difficulty (and the larger enemies appear), you get absolutely swamped and will find yourself running back to defend your dungeon crystal. The game was clearly designed to be played with other players, and really this is where it shines the most. Ensuring that each player understands their role and is able to effectively control the waves of enemies will ensure that you are never overwhelmed. But play the game alone and you’ll find the later dungeons nearly impossible to finish due to the harder enemies and the amount of time it takes to traverse the dungeon.
Graphically the game looks quite good, with simple cell-shading effects lending an almost cartoon feel to the entire game. Spells and other visuals are pulled off quite nicely as well, so overall it’s not a bad game to look at if you get too addicted to it. The sound effects are merely a distraction to the frantic gameplay, so there’s not much to comment about there.
Dungeon Defenders is a fun little romp that you can really only enjoy with friends. It’s unfortunate that you can’t enjoy it on your own, but you’re in for a rage fit if you try some of the later dungeons on your own. With plenty of things to unlock, a variety of game modes and upcoming DLC, you’re likely to get a satisfying couple of hours from Dungeon Defenders.