Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS3, & Xbox 360
In similar fashion to Orcs Must Die (I’m only comparing since I played it recently) Dungeon Defenders introduces you to a gang of mischievous students who suddenly find themselves under attack by an endless army of your typical bad dudes who want to smash your crystal. While in Orcs Must Die your teacher was embarrassingly killed off, here your teachers have decided to just fuck off and leave a few kids in charge of a giant castle.
The gameplay is almost exact to OMD to anyone familiar to that title. It plays like a tower defense game with a variety of ‘traps’ you can place around the map and you also control your character who can attack the enemies head-on. The similarities end there since this game has a major RPG emphasis on the gameplay. You can level up your character, spend points on various stats, and collect different types of loot. Let me stress for a moment when I say that Dungeon Defenders is not made for solo play. The numerous doors enemies pour through, each with multiple paths to your crystal, make tackling a level alone a daunting task. Playing with 2 or 3 players is fine, but you really get a better sense of how the game is really meant to be played when you have a full room of 4 people. You can either roll with your buddy in some local co-op or jump online.
Before you start your goblin slaughter you’ll have to create your character first. There are 4 classes you’ll be able to play as: the knight, the huntress, the mage, and the monk. You’re really going to want to practice a bit with each character to figure out which play-style you’re going to want to go with since each class has their own specific set of abilities and traps. For example the mage can build skeletal arms that fire magical bolts at your enemies while the knight can build traps such as spike barricades. You can even tweak the colors of the class you select and even change the tint of your crystal. It’s nothing amazing, but it was nice of them to include it.
As you’d expect in an RPG game there’s tons of loot to, well… loot. You’ll find pieces of armor or weapons in chests scattered around the stages that respawn with new items after each wave. Items can either be instantly equipped or sent to your item chest if you want a better look at it (or to sell). The game offers a very simple pop-up on items with a green thumbs up signifying an improvement over your currently equipped gear and a red thumbs down if you shouldn’t bother with it. Once a wave is cleared (or when you head to your tavern) you can view your item chest to check up on anything you sent there. You can sell it for mana which is used to upgrade your gear and buying items in the shop (it’s also used to construct your traps during matches). One disappointing thing about the gear is that while the weapons you equip all look pretty cool, the armor you equip will never change the look of your character. It’s a bit disheartening when you spend the time to upgrade a set of armor and you end up with no visual pleasure to accompany it.
Each match starts you out in the ‘build’ phase. It’s here where you’ll have the time to study the map to learn where the chests are, the best choke points, where the enemies are going to coming from, and all the paths they can take to your crystal. The game helpfully places a magical line that shows you all the potential paths that an enemy will traverse. Once you finish a wave you’ll be thrown back into the build phase where you can open up any chests you forgot about, build new traps, repair any damaged ones, and the mana from killed enemies won’t disappear so there’s no reason to rush. The next wave will commence when you’re ready and activate it on your crystal. Another thing to mention is that you don’t lose anything you gained if you fail a level. Any gear you picked up or levels gained will stay even if you die which is nice.
One thing I particularly like about the game is that it will show you what enemies will come out of each door and how many of them there will be. A door could only hold 2 trolls while the other could have half a dozen goblins with a handful of dark elf arches. There are just over half a dozen different enemies with a few bosses thrown in the mix every so often. These enemies will vary from flying wyverns, evil wizards, goblins, and a few other typical fantasy monsters. Every so often you’ll see a few elemental enemies in the mix. These guys will have status effects such as fire damage which makes them top priorities to take down.
The Final Word
If you like the thought of a tower defense game thrown into a blender with some RPG elements and hack/slash gameplay then Dungeon Defenders should be exactly what you’re looking for. It also has a pretty damn charming art style.
– MonsterVine Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair