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Old 10-30-2011, 11:54 AM   #1
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[Review] Dungeon Defenders

Dungeon Defenders Review

Title: Dungeon Defenders
Platform: iOS, Android, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Publisher: Reverb Publishing
ESRB: Everyone 10+
MSRP: $14.99 PC & PSN, 1200 Microsoft Points
Editor: Superman's Dead

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What's Hot: 4-player tower defense co-op!!; creative, colorful, sprawling maps; replayability/character advancement

What's Not: Difficulty scaling can make levels a chore; Lack of variation in traps/enemies
Four young heroes-in-training are horseplaying in a library while their older more powerful kin are away in some distant land. Wouldn't you know it, they knock over a crystal that, upon being shattered, unleashes a horde of darkness in and around the castle. With no one else to defend their home, they become Dungeon Defenders!

Quick nitpick: in every tower defense game, there's always an initial map with a small amount of doors and pathways. The last map, in contrast, is usually enormous with tons of entrances and open space. Why doesn't everyone just hang out in that first place? Just stop...stop going to bigger places.

Dungeon Defenders lets you choose one of four possible classes for your dungeon defending needs: the Squire, the Apprentice, the Huntress, and the Monk. Each of them have 4 unique towers/traps/defenses and two unique hero powers, with each hero bringing something different to the group.


Things are not going well.

In each level, there's a lot to do. You can get up close and personal with enemies, dispatching them and holding choke points on your own. You can use ranged attacks with every class but the Squire, taking out monsters from afar. You can make sure that none of your turrets or barriers fall to enemy attacks, and run around the map repairing and upgrading. In later levels there are so many paths for the enemies to take that there's no one "right" way to defend your crystals, so there are plenty of viable options. When you're struggling against a horde of monsters, it can be thrilling to coordinate the defense with three other people: maybe the Monk throws up a Healing Aura so that the Squire doesn't die while he's wading into enemies, the Apprentice builds barricades behind him to catch any who get through, and the Huntress fires wildly into the fray. Each 'Act' has a boss at the end of it, who is accompanied by never-ending waves of enemies until you take it down.

The maps are pretty, all bright colors and classic fantasy tropes. Deciding where you want to defend can be puzzling at first, but that's all part of the draw of the genre. A solo Apprentice may defend a different area than a solo Monk, and any group of two or more heroes would likely pool their talents in a different area as well. When you're hopping around with friends, trying to save your crystals in the initial waves before you have a lot of mana, the game is a fun romp.

When things get tougher later on in levels, however, there's a problem. By the last few waves of each level, you usually have your defenses in place. Each level as a limit of how many turrets/traps you can place, measured in "Defensive Units". Each defense is worth a different amount of DUs, and once you hit your cap you have to sell defenses to build more. So once your defenses are in place, you're dug in and all of your mana is spent on upgrading/repairing current defenses. The amount of enemies per wave and their strength is based on the number of players and their respective levels. On an initial playthrough of the last level of the second "Act", upwards of 1,800 enemies were attacking. By the time we'd killed 1,200 of them, we were positive we were going to win. But we had another 600 monsters to kill.


No pants, though. Dungeon Defenders don't need pants.

Once you've played all of the maps, the game has a problem with freshness. There's a 70 level cap for players, but you unlock your last tower at level 15 and last ability at level 20. You've fought against every type of enemy in the game well before the halfway point: they only get ranked up and gain resistances to elements that make them much harder to kill. If you want to hit your cap with each of the 4 classes you will see the same recolors of Goblins, Orcs, and Drow archers many many times. Because there are so many enemies, these enemies drop a lot of loot. Most of this loot is useless. You can pick through the dozens of items littering the floor after a wave, but will likely find nothing as good as or better than the items you already have. The best items in the game come from killing bosses, and it's hard for anything else to match up.

Each map has 4 difficulty levels, and also a Challenge you can complete for extra experience points and achievements. There's a lot you can do to level each of your 4 characters up to 70, and get the mana you need to upgrade your weapons and armor to godly levels. But through it all, you will have the same 4 defenses and two abilities, and be facing the same ten types of enemies.

Dungeon Defenders is a fun game in small doses, before the incredible onslaught of enemies gets boring rather than challenging. The four-player co-op is a serious draw, especially playing on Hard or Insane difficulty. If you like MMO-esque character progression there's something for you here, with the drive to get a character outfitted for tower strength or DPS over the course of the 70 levels of advancement you have. For some people that isn't enough, and the drive to Defend Dungeons can dry up pretty fast.

Score: 3.5 out of 5 CoGs


Superman's Dead says, "Check this game out if you have friends who love tower defense or quick hack-n-slash RPG fun, but it may not have legs if you aren't playing with people you like"

*Note - Review based upon the PC version of game
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:11 PM   #2
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Really great review!

And it was fun playing with you and Shrinn the other night!
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:16 PM   #3
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Yeah, those few short maps were some of the most fun I had playing. I think this game needs to be treated with some whimsy, because if you treat it like an MMO or something you'll burn yourself out.
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:27 PM   #4
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Nice review, I was considering a purchase (love tower defense), but since my internet is spotty and I rarely play co-op I think I'll wait for a price drop.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:49 PM   #5
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I think it's worth mentioning that if you have no intention to play multiplayer, you should skip this title altogether. While it's possible to continue on past the first couple levels alone, you'll soon hit a brick wall that will require repeated grinding to continue.

I've had a good time playing with strangers. Like any MP game, you'll find bad groups and good groups, but most of mine have been pretty good.

Another downside is that really getting the most of the game requires a lot of googling and referencing the often erroneous wiki. What do all those stats mean? What does increasing them do? Fuck if the game tells you anything.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Reverant View Post
Another downside is that really getting the most of the game requires a lot of googling and referencing the often erroneous wiki. What do all those stats mean? What does increasing them do? Fuck if the game tells you anything.
There were a bunch of small nitpicks I wanted to put in but the review would have been roughly 8 pages of raw text.

I will agree that the wiki is nonsense, and you can't find actual stats for any of the traps or heroes without looking very very hard: all of the information is usually in forum posts somewhere down pages.

Trendy had a lot of problems with this game, and they're still having them. A lot of players complain that the balance is entirely screwed up for most heroes. It's actually probably viable to solo the game as the Squire, but no other hero has a combination of singly useful traps and high enough DPS.

I find MMO grinding and specing to be distasteful, though, so I didn't want to get into it.
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:25 AM   #7
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Good review, but what Reverant said needs to be added to it: this is a multiplayer focused game. Unless you're playing a Squire, soloing isn't a viable option.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:10 AM   #8
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The game looks like fun, but I don't see myself playing co-op enough to justify a purchase. Also, every time I look at screenshots and video it's like having Fruity Pebbles ground into my eyes. The art style is just glaringly bad and looks like it would be really distracting while playing. Orcs Must Die did cartoony tower defense with a much more subdued palette that aids gameplay instead of hindering it.

Still, I'm glad people have had fun with it.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:13 AM   #9
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Great review, Supes!

I'm torn on this one. I had no plans on picking it up, but a friend of mine really wants me to get it. I doubt I'll play it other than a few times with him, which seems like a waste of $15. On the other hand, he really wants someone to play with. :/
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