The premise in Trendy Entertainment’s PSN tower defense game Dungeon Defenders is simple at heart but takes time to master.
Players are initially challenged to defend their single Eternia Crystal from the hoards of enemies looking to destroy it. This can be achieved through the use of building protective structures that act automatically to attack or repel any foes that cross its path. The difficulty ramps up significantly throughout the numerous levels, and as the number of crystals you have to defend increases so to do the access routes for enemies to reach their destructive goal.
Despite this simple premise being worthy of a game in its own right, the developer wasn’t content with a simple tower defense game so instead decided to up the ante with some added action RPG elements.
Dungeon Defenders has a selection of four classes to choose from: The Squire acts as a Warrior, the Apprentice takes on the role of a Mage, the Huntress is a Ranger style character and the Monk is simply put, a Monk. All these fill common RPG archetypes and, as you’d imagine, are blessed with distinctive skills to help them on the battlefield. Not only are these key to giving unique defensive towers to each class but also allow for differing physical abilities to get in the thick of battle and use their weapons to fight off the advancing hordes.
This mechanic greatly changes the flow of gameplay and brings a sense of satisfaction knowing that you can affect the outcome even more so than usual in games of this sort. Fortunately the management of your defences of each level is still a top priority and the frantic rushing across the map to fix or build fortifications is still commonplace. However in order to make things somewhat more manageable there is a ‘build stage’ which gives time to erect all your protective buildings before you trigger the enemy waves to attack.
So with this addition of player combat, most games employ some form of light inventory management. Dungeon Defenders though goes above and beyond what’s expected in a downloadable title with a huge selection of loot, upgradable equipment and even fighting pets. These prized possessions are either dropped during battle or bought/sold from the local home hub which is cleverly disguised as a tavern. Mana, the in-game currency, can also be used to upgrade the stats of weapons if available. All of this is a fantastic addition however some may be disappointed to find that only the weapon changes visually while the rest of your character remains the same as before. This isn’t a massive sticking point but is somewhat disappointing as total customisation would really make each person stand out more so online.
Multiplayer is where the game really shows its real appeal. Up to four players can play together either online or even locally through split screen. This opens up the strategy beyond anything that a single person could experience alone and allows for some hectic yet rewarding joint efforts and class combinations. Everything you do in multiplayer in intrinsically linked to your character so any progress made there you can take offline to play solo. This extends the longevity as no encounter is the same as the last.
Rounding up the whole package is the charming graphic style. Cell shading has been employed to make the character models really pop and to accentuate the cartoon feel of the game. This provides quite a colourful treat for the eyes and even with many enemies on screen there is little to no slowdown. The audio doesn’t quite fare as well with somewhat a somewhat bland soundtrack although the sound effects themselves are passable.
For a mere £7.99 Dungeon Defenders is well worth both your time and effort. The amount of content rammed into this downloadable title is astounding and regularly offers up the sort of engaging gameplay that a lot of full price titles would be envious of. However its biggest strength also turns out to be its greatest weakness as the difficulty scaling significantly favours a multiplayer approach over a solo effort. So unless you really like a challenge or love level grinding then we’d recommend getting some friends together to experience the game as it was truly intended.