I love mixing Peanut Butter and Chocolate. The combination of their tastes and textures blend so perfectly for me; I just love it. Similarly, Dungeon Defenders has that blend of Action Role Playing Game (ARPG) and Tower Defense that works so perfectly together.
With a colourful and fun art style, a variety of monsters, some fun maps, and tons of loot to collect - how can I complain?
There are four classes to choose from; each with their own towers to build, unique play-styles, strengths & weaknesses and special abilities to utilise. Best of all, it features four player co-op - which is definitely the way the game should be played.
Each match starts out the same; choose your hero and enter the “build phase”. This is when you can gather some mana (the only resource in the game), lay down your towers, and defend your Eternia Crystal (the thing the monsters want to destroy) against the waves of monsters that come during the “combat phase”.
Pretty standard stuff so far, but where it gets interesting is that you don’t start out with all your towers available to you. As you kill things and complete levels, your hero will level up - which opens up more towers for you to summon, lets you equip better loot – the enemies will drop plenty for you to find – and lets you choose how you want to play your hero.
Do you want to focus on making your towers stronger? Or focus on strengthening your hero and let him do most of the fighting while your towers slow the enemy down?
The nice thing about co-op is that it opens up a lot of options, as you can see what your team needs and deliver it. You may also - in between waves - swap out your heroes, which adds a lot of strategic decisions when playing solo.
To be fair, I wouldn’t recommend solo play for Dungeon Defenders. Not only is it less fun, but it also makes the difficulty level a little too high on later maps; especially maps with multiple Eternia Crystals. It gives you too much to pay attention to and is very challenging, as you can’t be everywhere at once.
Another big challenge for latter levels is the bosses. Some maps have bosses that will come up after the final wave. These are usually big and powerful demons or dragons that can destroy your towers quickly and sometimes land in an area of the map you do not have many towers facing. Beating one of these bosses in these conditions, of course, is very satisfying.
My only complaint is that sometimes some waves can take way too long to finish. You have your defences setup perfectly and just have to wait for the hundreds of monsters to be killed by them. Frankly, it’s boring when a wave takes up to 20 minutes to complete and all you had to do was repair or upgrade a few of your towers and collect the loot and mana dropped.
When this happens on certain maps/modes, it really ruins the fun of it, as it feels like the game is on auto pilot. For one game, I actually went to cook and eat dinner while two waves just took care of themselves.
The mana resource system is interesting, in that you can bank your mana, drop it for others to use, spend it not only on towers but on everything in the meta game, too. If you want to buy or sell items, upgrade a weapon or buy a pet, the currency you deal in is mana.
Overall Dungeon Defenders is a lot of fun, with some fun strategic options, and a very addictive (like any good RPG should be) levelling / loot system. It has that “just one more level” feeling so you can use that awesome godly sword you just picked up.
Playing online with strangers is fun, but I would imagine that, if you had three friends to play with and you all started at around the same level, it would be a blast! There are also plenty of challenges to add to the game with harder difficulties and other modes, like survival - which tests how many waves you can survive for. Best of all, making the game more difficult also means you are rewarded with better loot and more experience.
Dungeon Defenders is one of those games that you continue to think about after you’ve finished playing it and look forward to playing more of. I can only hope that it is successful so that the developers will be able to add to it with more maps, towers, modes, classes, and enemies; because as of right now, that is the only thing I wish the game had more of.
With that said Dungeon Defenders still offers more content than you are bound to find in most games and is one of the best value / fun for your money games to come out this year.