This isn’t your Dad’s Tower Defense game...
Written by Super User
Published Sunday, 16 October 2011 20:00
Hybrid games can be a tricky prospect. Often times, melding two or more genres can result in a final product that doesn’t please any of the respective audiences. On the flip side, combining multiple genres can lead to great success, even creating its own sub-category. Just look at Action-RPGs. Where would the industry be without the likes of Diablo, System Shock, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, and Deus Ex? The latest in this trend seems to be with Tower Defense. With Toy Soldiers, Monday Night Combat, and the recently released Orcs Must Die, developers have been trying to find new ways for gamers to experience the genre. Which brings me to Trendy Entertainment’s Dungeon Defenders. Initially launched last year for iOS and Android, the popular mobile title has now taken its Tower Defense/Action-RPG hybrid action to Xbox LIVE Arcade, PSN, and PC. Do we have another hot amalgam on our hands or should this one have stayed in our phones? After spending some time with it, let me put it to you this way: I hope you have an extra $15...
You are a child. Ok, not the real you, but the Dungeon Defenders you is. The land of Etheria is one like many others you have visited before, rife with heroes, evil baddies (dubbed the Old Ones) and magic. One day these heroes head out to battle evil once again, leaving the heroes-in-training at the castle to handle all the mundane chores. Naturally, the kids are not too happy about this, and as boredom sets in, they begin to play around, and inadvertently set loose the Old Ones from their imprisonment within an Eternia Crystal. Now, the tykes need to put their skills to the test as they try to defend the castle and put things right before the adults return home.
Battling the invaders requires a mix of defensive towers and traps, along with some good old fashioned combat. Players can choose among four different classes - Apprentice, Squire, Huntress, and Monk. Each class has their own unique set of towers/traps and combative skills. For example, the Apprentice will shoot magic blasts from his staff and can set towers that shoot out magic missiles or fireballs. Alternatively, the Squire, being the tank of the group, focuses on hand-to-hand melee attacks and towers that do physical damage like a harpoon gun or blockades. The Huntress relies on ranged combat with a cross bow or gun and her traps lean toward the sneaky assassin side (proximity mines and gas bombs) while the Monk is all about his staff and aura traps that will apply status effects, like slowing your foes down.
What really sets this game apart from the rest of the pack is the sheer depth for such a small title. Options abound allow you to play the campaign or play an unending horde mode. Want to go strictly strategy? Then you will want to play the Tower Defense-only Pure Strategy option, where your towers will be the only offense available to stop the mass of invaders. Even more interesting is are the Challenge Missions, where your Crystal (the main defensive point within each map) actually moves around during the mission. All of that on top of the standard campaign that tells the tale of our four young heroes.
As this is also an Action-RPG, characters will gain experience, level up, and acquire points to spend on different stat or tower boosting attributes. No self-respecting Action-RPG can come out these days without loot, and Dungeon Defenders has that covered too, with plenty of weapons to find, armor to pick up, and pets to buy; with all of it being upgradeable as well. The “loot box”, for lack of a better term, is common among all your characters, so you’ll be able to share equipment with anyone on the fly.
However, the amount of options actually works against it a little bit as well. At first it was overwhelming trying to absorb all the subtleties. It took a good couple of hours before I finally got a firm handle on HOW this game needs to be played. On top of the different facets and options, this is truly built as a cooperative experience. Each class is designed to compliment the other three. With both local and online, 4 player co-op support, Trendy does everything they can to reinforce that point. You can even swap character classes between waves, allowing you to take advantage of each of the class skills, regardless if you are running with your buddies or riding solo.
I’m just glossing over the surface here. Really, when I say there’s a ton of depth here, I’m not kidding, as I could probably double the size of this review and still not cover all the nuances. Yet, when I sat down to put these thoughts to paper, there was only one main point that stood out above everything else: Addiction. Regardless of the initial learning curve, I kept finding myself coming back for more and more. We always talk about those games that make you say “Just one more match”. Dungeon Defenders is one of those games. It doesn’t matter if you are playing with a group or on your own, running through the campaign or grinding out your stats in the Challenge Missions, the one constant throughout is that you will have a tough time putting it down.
Fortunately, Trendy has done a fine job catering to both the strategic-minded Tower Defense players and the loot-grubbing Action-RPG fans. Each map requires extensive use of both skill sets; you won’t get through the Campaign or the Challenge Missions on just fighting or towers alone. This combined with the various play modes and other options make it one of the best bangs for your buck you can find. Tons of monsters, big bosses, drop-in/drop-out support, a bunch of loot, and much more await your attention. Kudos to Trendy Entertainment, Dungeon Defenders is an easy one to recommend and slides in to the ‘can’t miss’ category, right next to some of the AAA titles we have hitting store shelves in the coming weeks. Except this one you don’t have to get up off your couch to get.
Release date : 2011-10-19
Publisher : Reverb Communications
Developer : Trendy Entertainment
Gameplay : Tower Defense
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