Review by Owenazuris
"Great Hybrid Game"
Dungeon Defenders is a game that attempts to mix the strategy of a tower defense game with the twitch gaming and loot grind of your favorite action RPG. Despite a few minor quibbles the game is pretty successful at doing this.
When you first start the game you are greeted with an opening story about how you are one of the four children of the heroes of the kingdom. The afore mentioned heroes get called away to defend the kingdom and they leave the four of you on guard duty. Since all the evil in this land has been vanquished, they figure it is nothing that you can't handle. After they leave, while playing and pretending to be real heroes, the four kids break a crystal, which was sealing away evil. Now they must protect the remaining crystals from an evil horde that seeks to break them and unleash evil across the land. Besides this intro, and a couple of movies in the game, there is not really much story development that occurs in the game. So if you play games for a great story, you will be disappointed.
Graphically, the game does better. The characters are very cartoony, and when you start the game you can customize your character's color and the color of their clothes. Unlike other action RPG's you will not change in your appearance when you equip a new armor, but your weapon's appearance will change to match the weapon you are using. Enemies are pretty standard in appearance and backgrounds are average. The music and sound effects in the game are also pretty average. Nothing that really stands out, but nothing that is offensive to the ears.
Now we come to gameplay. This is what will make or break this type of game. Gameplay breaks down into two sections, the tower defense aspect and the action RPG aspect.
The tower defense section of the game is fun. Defenses are easy to set up in a general location, though fine tuning their radius of attack by a couple of degrees can prove problematic. Each character has different types of traps and defenses that they can set, and the game will allow you to switch characters, so that you can take advantage of each of your characters different defense types. This is a great feature, especially if you intend to play the game by yourself. You are limited by the amount of traps that you can set, and this limit is shared between players in multiplayer games, which can lead to arguments between players. After you set your traps and defenses you move on to the next aspect of the game, the action RPG.
Normally, in tower defense games, you set your defenses, and then sit back and watch as hordes of enemies descend on your towers, occasionally repairing or putting out another defensive structure, but Dungeon Defenders does away with that by allowing your character to go out and fight on the battlefield. You can still build and repair your defenses, but in addition to that you get to fight enemies, gain experience and loot, and level your characters up to make them even more powerful. Controlling your character is easy. Controls are intuitive and you can map keys however you want. The game also allows the use of a gamepad, and those keys can be remapped as well. Loot drops are handled well, as you will get a thumbs up or thumbs down icon on the loot, denoting if the item is better than the item you currently have equipped. This allows you to equip items you find during this mode, as you can't switch to your inventory in this mode. Though the game sometimes has different opinions from me on what is superior loot, it usually does a good job of telling you the quality of an item, relative to your current items. Running around in this mode, fighting monsters is fun, but not perfect. The auto targeting sometimes picks a monster and you will keep facing that monster even as you back off and are trying to target a different monster. The game will figure out that you are moving towards another monster and eventually target that monster, but it was a little more sluggish than I am used to. It is also really easy to get lost in a horde of monsters, and have to just sit in one place slashing until you can finally see your character, but one could argue in this type of game that better defense placement and strategy would have avoided this problem in the first place.
The game has numerous expansions, which add different levels and different characters. Two of the characters allow you to focus only on the strategy aspect or only on the action RPG aspect, so if you don't like one of these sections of the game, you may want to try these characters.
Overall, this game is a pretty average tower defense game and a pretty average Action RPG, but when put together it becomes a really fun, addicting game, that is well worth your time playing.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/13
Game Release: Dungeon Defenders (US, 10/18/11)
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