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Adam Guetti
04 Nov, 2011

Dungeon Defenders Review

360 Review | Ready your weapons... It's time to go a hunting!
At a time where triple-A titles are well and truly starting to flow in thick and fast, as a gamer, it’s hard not to become overwhelmed. Arkham City, Uncharted 3 and Battlefield 3 are all storming up the charts, but they also in turn take our attention away from the smaller titles. Titles, that should receive our attention, but get lost amongst the masses. Titles, for example, like Dungeon Defenders.

There's a story within Dungeon Defenders about how four young characters (the Apprentice, the Squire, the Huntress and the Monk) are offspring of fabled warriors, protecting their land and its magical crystals from evil doers; but we'll be honest and say it doesn't really matter. The game itself pushes narrative to the side, providing the only real update to the introductory video via a short cut scene a few levels deep. As detrimental as it may sound though, it's not, as it allows Dungeon Defenders to instead focus on gameplay; and it's here that the title really starts to shine. Part tower defence, part third person action slasher, with some extra RPG elements tossed in for good measure, what you’re left with is a fascinating fusion that packs enough of a variational punch to keep you happily chugging along.

The game operates in two basic phases: the build phase, and the combat phase. The build phase pops up first, and it’s here that tower defense styling takes center stage. As you deftly navigate one of the four heroes in an almost isometric view around the environment, you must strategically set up traps and defensive units (ranging from spiked bouncers, to bowling ball cannons) in order to prepare for waves of ogres, goblins, and associated trouble makers. Once the traps are set, simply stroll up to your crystal, hit a button and watch as hell's fury is unleashed; also known as the combat phase. As soon as the phase begins, the camera will automatically shift behind your player, third person hack em' up style, allowing you to take on each enemy mano-al-mano, whilst protecting the crystal from their grubby little hands. Once the wave is eventually dealt with, it's back into the build phase and so continues the cycle.

Just a regular day in the Dungeon.

Just a regular day in the Dungeon.
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For the most part everything runs without a hitch; however the only gripe with the system is that in both phases, the camera’s verticality can not be altered by the right thumb stick. This in turn prevents you from gaining a better perspective in the heat of battle, which can quite quickly turn the tide against you as you struggle to see what's happening around you. The games internal mini map is also a royal pain to use, almost as though it’s inverted in its display from the outset. While it sounds like a minor niggle, when you try to halt a group of enemies movements in a faraway corner, only to waste precious seconds figuring out which way you’re actually meant to be going, it can become insanely frustrating very quickly.

With around 13 levels to fight your way through, developer Trendy Entertainment ensures that variety is the spice of life, adding giant ogres to final waves, or a gigantic boss battle that forces you to think on your feet as you attempt to simultaneously slay the beast while keeping amassing enemies at bay. Adapting your strategy is key to your success, especially once the later levels introduce multiple crystals to protect, alongside increased entrances for enemies to seep through. It’s all presented in a cel-shaded, almost cartoonish graphical style that works particularly well for its mystical and magical focus, with a vast range colour range and fitting art design.

Amongst all the mayhem, you will also be leveling up your character, collecting as much banked Mana as you can, as well as hoarding a huge wealth of loot to store in your item box. From boots to protective head pieces and swords, Dungeon Defenders allows you to pimp your character out just as you see fit. Each item brings its unique stats, all which can be upgraded via your Mana, and help suit your overall play style. Focus all your efforts into defense, resistance and speed, or make every hit you make a devastating one by increasing your damage and attack rate. Similarly, adding XP points to your hero, will slowly level them up, presenting new abilities, increased casting rate and a whole slew of other options.

So many stats, so little time.

So many stats, so little time.
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For a downloadable title, it all sounds surprisingly deep, because ultimately, it is. Dungeon Defenders presents the possibility to whittle boatloads of time in menus as you upgrade your player and their gear, and without noticing you'll do it more often than you think. The trouble is; a great deal of it isn’t explained well enough, despite a rather lengthy introductory tutorial. Without a manual to fall back on, it leaves gamers to either resort to the Internet or simply button mash to see what happens rather than making informed decisions from the outset. This would be all well and good if by doing so didn’t in turn delaying the ultimate strategic progression of your character.

Early rounds of the game are initially quick and easy enough to battle through with little effort. Give Dungeon Defenders an hour to warm up though and watch as the difficulty ramps up, as hundreds of enemies begin to swarm through entrances, leaving your team to scramble to keep them at bay. It’s an addictive challenge, and one near impossible by yourself. Even on an easy difficulty setting, there is serious challenge for two players to battle against the hordes, yet thankfully, the experience never hits that rage quit line.

Dungeon Defenders is the type of game that prefers, nay demands to played with a group of friends, and it’s all the better for it. Play on your lonesome for little over an hour and you are likely to become bored, quickly overrun, or both; but grab some friends and you will be filled with elation of the raging battle and the comradery as you yell at, and turn to each other for help.

As a team, your strategy will evolve as you use each class to its proper advantage. The Monk for instance can summon auras to slow down and stop enemies, while the Squire relies more on traditional hand to hand combat, wiping out rows of monsters at a time. Despite the class variations though, attacks in the combat phase generally equates to spamming the trigger button, which is bearable, but could have been improved with at least a few combos to match a particular situation.

The mayhem, THE MAYHEM!!!

The mayhem, THE MAYHEM!!!
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Each class also comes with pre-determined build options, in-built with their own perks and attack styles. Sure you can switch between each class on your own, but disappointingly, your level and upgrades do not move across each time you switch, meaning you can either have one very strong fighter, or a team of weaker ones.

Despite all this, Dungeon Defenders is without doubt one of the surprise downloadable gems of this year. Sure it’s not without its flaws, but none are too drastic to mar the overall enjoyment and addiction it provides. A word of advice though - convince three of your friends to buy it too, or play alongside some fellow online gamers, because to play Dungeon Defenders alone is to do it a major disservice. Either way however - download it.
The Score
An unquestionable downloadable gem, Dungeon Defenders is a truly refreshing experience amongst a market dominated by whizzing bullets and big explosions. Just make sure you play it with some friends.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 Comments
2 years ago
This game is fucking awesome. Put a tonne of hours now on PC with the gf. Fantastic stuff.
2 years ago
I wasn't expecting much, especially seeing as though it's not my genre of choice, but my god did I become addicted!
2 years ago
Been playing this on PC since release on Steam. Really great game that you can easily pick up and put down or really get engrossed in. I like that about it.. I can play casually just for 30mins and I can play more seriously for a few hours and get just as much satisfaction from both.

I like how each of the classes really do compliment each other, while at the same time it is possible to complete stages/levels with characters of the same class working together. The other good thing I like is that you can build 3 main types of character within each class: character heavy, tower heavy or balanced. By this I mean that you can apply your skill points into your character's skill point (health, attack power, build speed, special skills, run speed), and your tower's abilities (attack rate, attack power, defense health, attack range). You can pump them all into one, or mix them around..

Anyway yer.. very good game.
2 years ago
50 hours of gameplay and still going.. they just released some more DLC this week. 4 new character classes (alternate versions of the existing 4 but still different enough to feel new). Some extra challenge maps.. 4 that you have to pay for one that you don't..
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