Dungeon Defenders is part tower defense, part action-RPG, and judged separately, the game doesn’t do either particularly well. The simple level layouts aren’t meant for adventuring and don’t appear to offer any strategic challenge. Plus, the bright McD’s colors and literal children characters make everything feel likewell, a children’s title.
This is no kid’s romp, however. In fact, I died during the tutorial. (True story: I actually told the publisher that their developers were a bunch of a-holes for designing the most sadistic level ever for the campaign’s final chapter.) This is one helluva tough game that takes meticulous planning (to the point where you might suffer from analysis paralysis trying to balance your available resources with what defenses and traps you can build) and plenty of level grinding.
So it’s not for everyoneespecially those short on patience. And again, it’s not a great tower-defense game or a great action-RPG. But as a tower-defense action-RPG, it’s excellent.
You know how addicting loot-gathering can be in the likes of Diablo or Borderlands. Same hereyoull become obsessed with finding better goods (weapons, armor, and petsall of which are upgradeable) and improving your heroes through experience to get access to mightier towers and powers.
More significantly, on the tower-defense front, Dungeon Defenders allows you to create multiple characters in four available classes and swap them around during each wave’s pre-combat building stage. This is where the game really burrows into your brain and refuses to leave. Do you set up the Mage’s barricades, which cost less and strip away enemies’ resistance to certain elements? Or do you build the Knight’s equivalent instead, a slightly pricier option whose spikes will damage the marauding forces? If you need to slow down one stream of foes because you only have enough mana to build towers to take care of another, perhaps the Huntress’s coughing-gas trap can buy you some time until you can gather more. It’s this sort of strategic planning and execution that differentiates Dungeon Defenders from all other tower-defense titles. It’s wonderfully deep and flexible, yet it’s not complicated in the least.
You can tell this game was meant for multiplayer, as the multiple, simultaneous waves of invaders are sometimes too much to handle solo. As of this writing, I couldn’t beat the final level (the one made by those a-holes), even after hours of repeated attempts. But you know what? I’m absolutely happy to try again and againI just need to level up some more and tweak my tactics a bit.
Looks like it’s back to the grind for me.
The Good: Lots of modes, loot, and strategy to discover
The Bad: Insane difficulty at times
The Ugly: The language you’ll be spouting when you see enemy-healing mages
Publisher: Reverb Publishing
Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release: 6.2011 (June 2011)
Players: 1-4, 2-4 co-op
ESRB Rating: E 10+