I have to admit it; I was more than a little worried before ploughing into the curious mix of tower defence, RPG, and hack and slash thrown up by Trendy Entertainment’s Dungeon Defenders. It wasn’t the game itself that had me concerned, to be fair I was quite looking forward to getting stuck into things, more the fact that I was being told to delve deep into the action, truly explore and take my time to see this title at its best. I was being urged to understand just how much depth was on offer here and having just reviewed the latest incarnation of Football Manager I wasn’t sure more untold depth was quite what I was looking for.
So what exactly do we have here?
Is Dungeon Defenders an Ocean sized joy or a puddle of disappointment?
Well truth be known it’s somewhere in between. It’s the local pool…..deep end of course.
Dungeon Defenders revolves around the simple idea of defending a crystal against the marauding hordes of creatures hell-bent on destroying it. This is achieved by placing barricades and obstacles to slow their onslaught in a classic tower defence style and going toe to toe with the beasts in classic hack and slash fashion. The RPG element rears its head via the loot collection and levelling up system.
The first choice you’ll make in Dungeon Defenders is which class to play as. There are four on offer: The Apprentice and The Squire are equally good choices if you’re after a fairly simple yet effective character to control. The Apprentice is your basic wizard type while The Squire is the sword wielding hard case of the group. Next up is The Huntress, utilising ranged attacks and finally The Monk, a sort of jack of all trades master of none type and a good choice if you like a challenge.
Each character has their obvious strengths and weaknesses, their own individual traps and each also demand a different approach to the gameplay which helps to keep a player on their toes and prevents the game becoming stale.
The individual powers of each class mean that in co-op the game can really come to life. Players can carefully choose the classes so that each weakness is counterbalanced by another’s strength and vice-verse. Playing in co-op also brings the added benefit of having an extra pair of hands for when the going gets gruelling, and it certainly does get gruelling with at times untold numbers of enemies on screen.
Each wave begins with the build mode. This is the chance to lay the foundations of a solid defence and cover any routes to the crystal with traps and blockades. Part 2 is the action stage and sees ever increasing swarms of enemies pitch into view and make their way crystal-ward.
The action stage moves the camera angle to a lower down third person perspective and the game serves up a nice slice of action as you go head on with the invaders. Damaged traps can be fixed, bad guys slain and loot collected, it’s nothing ground breaking but it is a lot of fun.
Along the way I can guarantee there will be times when you become lost. So many stats, upgrades, numbers and so on can at times leave you in a complete daze and it certainly requires a good few hours play to begin to know exactly what’s what and where it’s all kept. But perseverance reaps rewards and Dungeon Defenders rewards the player with a game that requires skill and thought but never really gets dull.
Graphically the game has been bathed in the cartoon waters of kids TV but don’t be fooled, lurking underneath is a meaty challenge that will satisfy even the hardiest gamers.
All in all Dungeon Defenders is a good, solid package, there’s a deep challenging game for those willing to spend the time within its walls, while for the more casual player it also holds a slight pick up and play charm. Not exactly a Splosion Man, pick up and play charm, but you can still get something from short bursts. It’s also a bit of a rarity in being an arcade game that’s worth the full 1200 MS point asking price with it packing enough action to allow you to truly milk this game for months.