[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Trendy Entertainment” publishers=”Reverb Publishing & D3Publisher” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”October 19, 2011″]
There are certain design concepts one can take to make an addicting game. Customizable class progression and equipment combined with random loot drops tend to have players coming back for more and more. A central hub with quick levels and drop in multiplayer is another good design. Trendy Entertainment understands these concepts and many more with their development of Dungeon Defenders for XBLA, PSN, and PC. Published by Reverb Publishing and D3Publisher on XBLA, Dungeon Defenders mixes Diablo-esque hack and slash with tower defense goodness and 4 player co-op, which is where the real fun comes in and adds to the strategy of the game.
During character creation, there is a choice between four different heroes. The squire is a pantless knight that loves sword play and his towers are physical traps of doom. The Apprentice is a mage with a big hat and shoots magic from his staff while summoning towers that shoot elemental magic at enemies. The Huntress is the group’s busty ranged combatant that summons traps with a range of effects. The monk is a bald little guy that can melee or shoot ranged depending on weapon and summons auras that can affect allies, enemies, and towers.
After creating a character the player is dropped into a central hub called The Tavern… which not too surprisingly is a tavern. Here you can switch between your characters, buy/sell/trade, view trophies that represent accomplishments, view stats, check damage against target dummies, and start up a level. Starting up a level is where the fun begins. Dungeon Defenders is about surviving waves of enemies with the core crystals intact. Before each wave of enemies, players get a build phase where they can set up, upgrade, and repair towers/auras/traps at choke points to kill enemies. They can also swap out their heroes if they have more than one so towers from multiple hero types can be placed. This is especially useful if playing solo but not as much while playing co-op unless everyone decided to play the same class. Then the combat phase comes and hordes of enemies of different types will come at you, the crystals, and your defenses. Defeat them all and survive then rinse and repeat until all waves for the level are complete.
The difference between Dungeon Defenders and the rest of the genre is that enemies drop random weapons and armor for the heroes. Heroes gain experience, levels, and ability points to place in attributes and skills. During combat phases, heroes can run around and kill the enemies too. The level of customization and hack and slash gameplay puts Dungeon Defenders miles ahead of the competition.
Levels have four difficulties (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane) and this allows higher level heroes to replay lower levels and not be overpowering. Beat a level and three new modes of play are unlocked. Survival mode pits the heroes against unlimited waves until they are overwhelmed. Pure Strategy takes survival a step further and only allows you to use towers, so no hack and slashing to save your butt. Lastly each level has a unique challenge level, such as Protect the Ogre or Assault the Horde’s crystals. These three extra modes and the four difficulty levels keep players coming back for more and more after the campaign is beaten. Leaderboards also provide incentive to get the highest score or best time on a level. Bottom line is that even after playing through the game, the player has only scratched the surface of the fun to be had.
Those looking to play the game solo should be prepared for a hard game until they level up. Dungeon Defenders was designed for co-op. Sure each additional player almost doubles the enemies in a wave, but having that extra person helps when trying to micromanage traps when enemies are coming at you from multiple directions. With the ability to swap heroes out during build phases, you get the benefit of multiple hero’s traps but still lose that help with micromanagement. The game is very do-able solo and is still fun…just not as fun as co-op.
Dungeon Defenders is one of those games that comes along once or twice a decade and is still played well into the next decade. It honestly feels like someone took the addicting elements from a great tower defense game and Diablo 2, put them in the oven, and baked a delicious cake called Dungeon Defenders.