Developed by Trendy Entertainment, Dungeon Defenders falls under both the action RPG and the tower defense genres in a great fusion of the two. The game follows the kingdom of Etheria, full of peace since the living legends of the land sealed away an ancient foe called, The Old Ones, inside the Eternia Crystal. The legendary heroes leave to seek adventure outside the kingdom, leaving behind their younger kin who, through their youthful antics, end up unleashing the ancient foe once again. The children must now work together to fight off the advancing monsters and protect the realm as their parents did before them.
The gameplay is not your typical tower defense, which is to be expected. Not only do players get to build towers to defeat the waves of monsters that are hell bent on releasing the ancient evil, you are able to control your character and take the fight to your enemies firsthand. Throughout the game, your character will level up, granting access to bigger and better defenses, new abilities, and better upgrades. These obviously help you maneuver through the increasingly difficult waves and levels (though 3 other friends will definitely help as well).
There are four unique character classes to choose from, each with their own diverse set of skills and equipment. Each character has a diverse play style that does affect how you’ll approach the overall game itself.
The apprentice is a wizard in training trying to master the art of conjuration. He is able to shoot out magic projectiles with his staff, while being able to create a shockwave that damages and pushes enemies back as his secondary skill. The towers he can summon are more of the traditional tower defense fare, with different type of projectile launchers, such as fireballs, lightning, and magic missiles.
The Huntress is a master at trap making and a Ranger in training. These traps detonate upon enemy proximity and deal a significant amount of area-of-effect damage. She uses crossbows and pistols as her primary attack, while her secondary skill reloads said weapons.
The monk is a master of aura projection and a Priest in training (Happens to be Kevin’s favorite character to use). These towers produce area effects that either hinders monsters or helps out other players, such as an ensnare aura that slows monsters down, and electric aura that deals electric damage to enemies over time and a healing aura that heals all heroes within the aura. The monk himself wields spears and massive battle-axes.
The Squire is a master of standing his ground with his sword and is on his way to be a great Knight — if only he learned to put on a pair of pants. His towers are used primarily as a blocking tool, acting like a wall, although some consist of powerful offensive turrets as well.
The inventory and merchant system in place allows you to store equipment received from killing monsters, looting from chests or bought from the Tavern shopkeeper. These items can be sold to gain extra mana that will be added to your bank for later use. The mana is the currency within the game and is not only used to build your towers, but it is also used to upgrade your equipment as well. Each piece of armor, and every weapon can be leveled up, but not all items are equal. These items contain different set of stats with varying amount of levels that can be obtained on the respectful item. When you’re literally neck-deep in hundreds of little goblins and giant orcs, those upgrades go a very long way.
The camera system has a few different angles and ranges to choose from, so players should have no problem finding one that works the best for them. I still would have liked a free- range 360-degree camera, or an option to use one with more of a top-down perspective. The menu system contains lots of information and will overwhelm players at first. Thankfully the game does contain tutorial movies that explain everything very well.
Players can meet up in the tavern before heading out to face the never-ending hordes of monsters. The tavern serves as a hub between levels where players can meet up, strategize, update their gear and shop before venturing forth on the next mission together.
The game contains two main game modes—Campaign and Challenge mode. Each of these modes has tons of additional options that can be enabled or disabled on or off in between each adventure. Players looking to take their time in the build turn are able to turn on an infinite build timer. Survival mode can be activated to face an endless supply of waves of monsters. Trendy Entertainment even included the option to enter a strategy only mode where only the towers can attack enemies.
Graphically the game has a clean, cell-shaded style that flows beautifully with the gameplay. Molten hot lead looks dangerous, the sky looks gorgeous, and the enemies are brutish and certainly not cuddly. I enjoyed hacking and slashing my way through them (you’re not limited to just using your towers anymore!), or watching them bounce off of my sturdy defenses. There are some nice effects in the game, and musically it’s all big stuff that fits with the games grand defense of the kingdom.
Currently, there is no patch to allow those that have the DLC to play with those without the DLC, potentially limiting possible online matchups. The difficulty also ramps up way too fast, even on the Normal difficulty. The game does scale to provide a challenge no matter how many players are in a match, but even with 3 people on the normal setting, we were absolutely overrun fairly early on in the game, which I was not expecting.
I never experienced any lag, and I had fun playing Dungeon Defenders (that and scoring MVP over everyone else). I don’t think any other game packs this much entertainment and value in one single impressive package. It is easily one of, if not the best deal currently on any platform. Trendy Entertainment plans to patch in the ability to play cross-platform between PC, mobile devices, PSN and XBLA. Once this is implemented, there will be a near infinite amount of players to forge a team together to protect the Eternia Crystal and all of Etheria.Note: Dungeon Defenders was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.