What happens when someone tries to combine a bunch of awesome things into one sole item or experience? There are two possible results: you are either rewarded with an epic fail along the lines of fruitcakes or the color brown, or you get the rare treat of creating something new and fantastic. It turns out Trendy Entertainment knew exactly what they were doing when creating Dungeon Defenders as they combined genres for a unique experience self proclaimed as a “competitive four-player co-op, hack-and-slash, tower defense/action-RPG hybrid.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The purpose of the game is simple: defend your Eternia crystals from any manner of evil creatures that want to destroy them. Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, as the manner in which you must strategize and fight to prevent this fate is anything but easy. We’ll get this out of the way early, there are four classes you can be which each have their own strengths and weaknesses and you’ll need them all. The classes are squire (tough, physical fighter), apprentice (magician of the bunch), huntress (sneaky saboteur), and the monk (power-up/group support). These strengths/weaknesses are expertly crafted to ensure the necessity that you need all four gameplay styles to succeed. While you have the option to switch between classes in single player mode, this game is ridiculously hard without playing either local or online multiplayer and it would not be advised.
The gameplay is divided into two phases, build and combat. These are both pretty self-explanatory. During the build phase your teammates and yourself will deploy new towers and obstacles as well as repair any damaged ones. This is also when you will collect all of the mana (which is the currency for the game) and equipment/items dropped by friends or slain foes. This can become frantic with multiple players as everyone is rushing to get to the items first. After collecting the mana you will go to the forge to purchase and upgrade your items and weapons. The combat phase is obviously where the magic happens. In this phase you will use your character (or characters depending on how you decide to play) to run around and support your defenses in a myriad of ways ranging from hack-and-slash mauling to upgrading towers placed in critical locations. You can approach each level in an innumerable amount of ways, just be prepared to learn the hard way occasionally.
There is an impressive amount of customization and upgradable options available, with each of your 8 characters not maxing out until reaching level 70. Your mana can buy you new gear or pets which you can raise and improve as well. Not only can you upgrade your equipment but you can also trade it to other players, whether you actually know the person or not. There is even an additional perk of having your name attached to a pet or item that has reached it’s max level.
Aside from the obvious replayability factor due to the RPG elements just discussed, there is also an impressive amount of game modes to keep you busy. In addition to the campaign missions which tell the story, there are also challenge missions that have the incentive of rare loot and increased experience. Even after the varied challenges, there are the additional survival, pure strategy, and mix modes that add on tons of content. Pair all of this with 3D and the optional supported Move control scheme and you’ve got yourself a steal for the $15.00/1200 MSPoints price tag.
The controls themselves work well, even if there aren’t much to them. The fighting/spell casting works perfectly, and fighting those baddies is an absolute blast no matter which approach you take. I will say that the menus and navigation appears a bit overwhelming at first, but after a little getting used to they are actually incredibly intuitive and easy to use.
With Dungeon Defenders, you just need to know what your are getting yourself into. This game is difficult to recommend for a single player only experience, but I cannot fault it for that as it isn’t meant to be played that way. If you love strategy and co-operating with others then you will have an absolute blast with this game. It isn’t the prettiest game ever, nor does it execute any specific genre better than previous games already have. What Dungeon Defenders does do, is create a completely unique experience by combining multiple game styles into an amazing experience that simply should not be missed as long as you have multiplayer capability.
REVIEW CODE: true staff A complimentary code was to Brash Games for this review. the publishers in any way whatsoever. For all review code enquiries, please use the contact form.
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