Monday, 24 October 2011

Dungeon Defenders Review

Hello readers, KupaRizu here with my first ever review for Feral Entertainment, so please, sit back and enjoy!

Dungeon Defenders is the first ever game developed by Florida based game studio Trendy Entertainment, and boy what a brilliant entrance into the world of Videogames have they made, which is not surprising considering the company was created by veterans of the video game industry made up of some of the best Unreal Engine Developers in the world with over 40 years of collective experience between them.

Now, what makes Dungeon Defenders so unique and simply downright clever is the combination of two unlikely genres; Tower Defence and Action RPG, into a brilliant blend of action-filled excitement.

Dungeon Defenders takes place in a fantasy realm where a great evil has been sealed away for many generations in Eternia Crystals, however recently an evil army was released by accident with the sole purpose of destroying the Eternia Crystals and reawakening the great evil that has been sealed from the world. Due to this event, Heroes must be chosen to defend the Eternia Crystals, and you just happen to be one of the chosen ones.

Dungeon Defenders begins simple, like many RPGs, with a class selection screen, each class is unique and you are given four to start off with, with more classes being available to unlock at a later stage in the game. The classes each have a difficulty rating and are progressively more challenging to learn and use effectively.

The first class most players should start off with is the Apprentice class, due to his mix of barricades and different kinds of towers that can deal ranged damage from behind fortifications, giving him the most balanced toys of all the classes. The second hardest class, and the one I started with, is the Squire class, a Tank class through-and-through, his defences are based around funnelling or blocking off groups of baddies so he can rush in a take them down with his sword for a massively satisfying blood bath massacre.

The next class is different yet again, for one she is the only female class, and two she is a mixture of ranged support and trapping; The Huntress. Playing the Huntress means firing off crossbow bolts and shredding enemies apart with gatling cannons, all while laying traps designed to wear down, slow or stun incoming enemies. While she may sound overpowered, without a good Squire or Apprentice, she can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of enemies that pour out of the dark portals. The final class is also a support style class: the Monk. The Monk class lays down area of effect auras to slow, damage or even turn enemies against their own former friends. Monks can also summon healing auras to aid the other players, however, just like the Huntress; Monks are not very good as a solo hero and is more of a support class for co-op.

After choosing your Heroes class you are able to choose his/hers colour scheme and name and then you go on to customise the look and colours of your Eternia Crystal, however at the beginning only one Eternia Crystal will be available, for the rest are unlocked via achievements. Then the game really begins!

Thrown into the tutorial with my Squire on medium difficulty I perform all the tasks set forth, from learning the movement system, how to build towers and how to use the rather sloppy camera controls, to learning all about levelling up and attacking. Then, and only then, am I given my first level, a simple invasion consisting of five waves of enemies, each wave getting progressively harder, standard Tower Defence stuff really. I build two spiky barriers, the only type of defence my Hero knows at level 1, and begin the combat stage. The camera zooms down into the action and I jump into the fray as little imp like demons start to pour out of the demon portals, I slash away until I kill something then move onto my next target, and again, slash, kill, move on, slash, kill, move on. The excitement of running into the action and clicking wildly quickly wore off, unfortunately, while fun, the action was primarily hack-and-slash, click to victory sort of gameplay. Despite this it was enjoyable to kill the imps and I had managed to complete the wave before they reached my defences, sweet. So, I run back to the Eternia Crystal and start the next wave, again killing away before they reached my defences. Ran back to the crystal, started the next wave, killed them all, same again next wave, and then I started the final wave.

This is where I learned my mistake, and learned that Dungeon Defenders is insanely hard, even when attempting to play on medium difficulty, and unless you have friends to play with, even on easy it is going to be a challenge to complete all 13 missions in the campaign. And of course, being the idiot I am, that was exactly what I planned to do. The final wave spawned two huge Orcs, these just smashed straight through my defences and ripped by crystal a new one, and there I was, sat in my chair, shocked as to how in the world I had managed to lose on the first level.

This game was designed for 2-4 player co-op, and it does not go easy on the lone wolves of gaming. However, as a loner, I had to continue regardless.

Upon failing the level I found myself in the games “level-select” area, a place where all great adventures begin: the Tavern. In the tavern was my crystal, which allows me to travel between the missions in Dungeon Defenders, a Defenders Forge, which allowed me to switch between multiple Heroes, and the barkeep, who sells armour, weapons and pets for you character.

What the barkeep sells is shuffled between each delve into a mission, so every time you come back to the Tavern a different set of items will be waiting for you to buy. Luckily for me there was a lightning powered wakizashi within my price range that increased my damage by quite a lot, so I bought it, levelled up my characters stats with the XP I had earned, and headed back into the first level and tried again, this time succeeding to defeat the Orcs and complete the level! (Cue fanfare)

I then continued onto the next level, which had five waves again but this time had a more complex route to defend, and tougher enemies. I set up my defences, started the round and am immediately defeated by three Orcs and a hell of a lot of imps.

This game is hard, so very very hard, with a hugely steep difficulty curve, however it provides a well-balanced death. Every failure is a chance to try again with a slightly stronger and richer character, and with four classes and four difficulties spread over 13 missions, this game provides countless hours of entertainment and challenges. On top of all that the missions can each be played in Survival Mode, in which you do not get any defences and must survive using only you hero and his abilities, or Strategy Mode, where you must protect the crystal using only defences and towers.

Still not satisfied with the amount of content available in the game, Trendy Entertainment made it so that for every campaign level completed, a challenge level is unlocked, these challenges are variations of the standard gameplay where you’ll be attacking instead of defending, protecting a teleporting crystal as it zooms around the map or even crazier stuff such as one player being the chicken and is unable to jump and dies easily. Finally to top it all off there is a PvP mode where you and your friends can battle each other in an arena.

All of this content, combined with unique gameplay, easily outweighs the minor grievance of the sloppy camera controls and barren tutorial, and will keep you coming back for more and more of this masochistically difficult, yet insanely fun Tower Defence/Action-RPG genre-bending masterpiece. Bravo Trendy Entertainment and I certainly can’t wait to see games as brilliant as this in the future from you.


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