Genre bending has always been laudable on the part of developers everywhere. Merging cohesive game mechanics from traditional categories, even in the most experimental of fashion, is a double-edged sword balanced in fragility. Such an act either results in massive payoff, creating a game that is significantly greater than the sum of either initial parts or flounders into the abyss, a vast failure. Dungeon Defenders proves that there is still some exceptional value to experimenting with assimilating game-types to create something all the more impressive.
From the onset, Dungeon Defenders gets off the ground running by offering a significant amount of depth for either the most discerning or occasional gamer. Initially, the sheer amount of content proffered will appear simply staggering, but as time goes on and thanks to an extremely well done tutorial, players will be very much up and running before they know it. And with all the adult heroes away, gamers will need to learn the ropes quickly to pass each successive challenge.
Stepping into the respective boots of classes such as a Monk, Squire or Apprentice each type of character is indicative of the initiate level of what many would consider accomplished classes of other games. Suffice to say, the bigger heroes are off fighting evil in foreign lands, and thus falls to the young heroes to stop the evil they’ve unleashed. Yet, each class feels distinctly fleshed out and unique, bringing vastly different talents to the table based on what is called for at the time.
Looking for someone who wants to get in and mix it up? Undoubtedly the Squire, a Knight-In-Training is going to be the absolute go to for anyone interested in undertaking their first out ofDungeon Defenders. Looking for a magical punch? No doubt the Apprentice will suit those needs nicely with a mix of long and short range magical attacks. Regardless of your particular play-style, there is without a doubt something that almost anyone who enjoys playing video games will find appealing beyond any shadow of certainty.
Following the single-player tutorial, which is invaluable in speeding up your immersion into the game, players will be tasked with defending a crystal from oncoming forces of evil that arrive in waves a la Horde or Firefight modes from Gears of War or Halo, respectively. While you can face down the enemy on your own, which will be exceedingly difficult, players are advised to pay heed to the intrinsic game mechanic of placing defensive structures, similar to what any experienced Tower Defense player would be comfortable with.
By using either a radial menu opened via the center mouse button or hot keys on the keyboard, players can buy, sell, repair or upgrade defensive structures to their liking and maximize their potential defensive capabilities against whatever goblins, elves, or ogres they might encounter. After the initial difficulty curve wears off from a level and players feel comfortable defending a certain area against a wave, along with repairing or building new defenses between waves, the difficulty curve adjusts slightly offering players an all new challenge to test their abilities.
Over time, your characters will level to learn new abilities and equip new gear, which is streamlined for ease of use by simply indicating usefulness to players by a simple thumbs up, down or sideways, making stat recognition all the more easier instead of feeling like one is waiting on a fellow raider amidst a World of Warcraft instance. While you do gain powers at a marginally impressive rate, depending on how you utilize towers and powers in your defense of the crystals, the quicker you’ll level and unlock new abilities or perks for either yourself or the towers used to defend against enemies.
Choosing how one upgrades their character, whether it be individualized or catered to defenses is perhaps one of the most notable and appreciable qualities of Dungeon Defenders. Not because of the choice, but the ability for a player to customize themselves for individual combat, for those who want to get in there and mix it up like anyone comfortable with a third-person action game would be, or geared towards defenses for the grand tacticians in our midst. Yet the game never punishes a player for either – be they focused on upgrading themselves or defenses – this never causes Dungeon Defenders to feel lopsided or broken.
The arenas experienced felt varied and different enough to warrant playing through them multiple times as each class to get a feel for how each responded to what was being thrown at them. However, should a player choose a specific class that they’re not especially comfortable with and decide to switch to something more familiar, they simply visit a locked chest near the crystal they defend to swap out classes or characters at will. Nevertheless, the maps are fun, regardless of whether or not one tackles them online or locally.
Most importantly though however, Dungeon Defenders is not just an enjoyable game that mixes up two genres to create something all the more impressive so much as it is a massively fun experience. The mouse controls compliment the standard keyboard setup while ending up feeling smooth and fluid, while the camera never felt obtrusive to the overall course of play. Most notably though, whether a level was beaten or not, I never walked away with a bad taste in my mouth and was ready to come back for more – once I was able to get some rest and adjust my strategy on some occasions.
Utterly, Dungeon Defenders is a solid argument that a game can be both insanely amusing when it’s designed not just for multiplayer or single-player, but cohesively designed for both and a developer really puts in the time and effort to pull it off. On top of looking absolutely gorgeous and adding insult to your wallets injury, the game is well worth the price of admission. Whether or not you’re looking for a cheap thrill or a new addiction, Dungeon Defenders will cater to both, ensuring that you’ll see at least one sunrise after a long night of playing.