Dungeon Defenders Review
- Posted October 31st, 2011 at 16:11 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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A phenomenal co-op experience that greatly surpasses the less exciting single-player mode
- Coop works extremely well
- Rewarding character development
- A lot of bang for buck
- Slightly unorganized menus
- Single player feels undriven
While in the middle of playing Batman: Arkham City, I observed many of my friends playing a game called Dungeon Defenders. I looked at my Batman case and thought, "Why are they not playing this?" These friends told me that Dungeon Defenders was great, but they also told me it was a tower defense game. Definitely not my forte, but I respect their opinions. Never in my days would I have put a AAA game on the shelf to play an underground hit. Until now.
Dungeon Defenders opened its appeal to me with a short and sweet introduction: the great heroes of Eternia left on a great quest far away and left their young kin to hold down the kingdom while they were gone. In the midst of expected childhood boredom, they imagined themselves in adventures and stories that their older kin would probably be experiencing. Unexpectedly, the kids unlocked an ancient power known as the Eternia Crystal, and now the vast creatures of the world are after it, and it's the job of these kids to protect it. Really, the story isn't glorious, but it's not necessary to be that way. It brings a point to the game, and neither the game nor the plot counter each other negatively. In fact, rewatching the introduction every time I load the game gives a certain reminder that all of my tower tactics have a point: playing keep away with ugly baddies.
The balance of gameplay is configured in a couple different ways: which characters are used and how difficult the game mode is. Any of the four character types can simply play through the game on easy mode without a large amount of difficulty, as to be expected. However, the single player mode can be quite dull, since each character is limited in options. I chose the apprentice first, which is the mage class, and he has the ability to create fireball and lightning turrets as well as defensive walls impervious to magic. He along with the monk make a very handsome team. The monk utilizes auras, which, along with walls that stop enemies, can reduce enemy attack damage, passively damage them, and even make them attack each other. The other two classes available in Dungeon Defenders are the Squire and the Huntress. The Squire is more offensive than the others, since he's always in the fray of combat. He also can place barricades that inflict damage on attackers; another great ally with a monk. The huntress is, as expected, a range character, which also specializes in traps. I don't want to abruptly say that the monk is the greatest support class ever engineered, since it works well with the huntress as well, but it supports all of the other classes so well without hindering itself. The monk is welcoming, since support classes in most games are very dull. To be perfectly frank, not having a monk is very boring, especially after playing alongside one; keep your friends close.
The kingdom of Eternia is vast indeed, since it's filled with quite a variety of levels to play. Each level also, upon story completion, can be played in other mode types such as Survival and Pure Strategy. Survival is self explanatory: endure wave after wave until the enemy wins. Pure Strategy is a mode where players can only use towers and traps, and autoattacks cannot be executed. So, Pure Strategy is a mode where teamwork would be of the utmost importance. Off the top of my head, the best situation I could think of would be combining the slowing and damaging auras from the monk, traps from the huntress, lighting and fireball towers from the apprentice, and the Bouncer Blockades and Slice N Dice Blockade from the squire. All of that damage concentrated in one location will decimate numerous droves of baddies without having to do much of anything, apart from upgrading and taking in massive numbers of mana.
Also, mana is used for both tower construction and as currency. While in each level, mana comes from treasure chests littered across each map and from baddies upon their defeat. As the number of waves accumulates, so does the vast amount of mana. The character mana reservoir increases with level, as expected, but ends up being full for a lot of the later levels. This ... (continued on next page)