Dungeon Defenders began life as Dungeon Defenders: First Wave, which was the first game to use Unreal Engine 3 on an Android. That version was released roughly a year ago, and featured iOS/ Android cross-platform play. This new version, available on Steam for PC, Xbox LIVE Arcade and Playstation Network, is a more fully evolved, incredibly addictive version.
The game is a tower defense game mixed with action RPG elements. The game executes this melding of genres so wonderfully that it seems odd that no one has attempted a game like this before. If you’ve never played a tower defense game, as the name implies there is a structure that requires defending from an onslaught of enemies. In most TD games you simply build defenses and hope the enemy doesn’t break through, but in Dungeon Defenders, you get to actually go into a third person over-the-shoulder view, and get your hands dirty taking on the enemy yourself, with magic or weaponry. In this way it reminded me a bit of Brutal Legend, but the gameplay style fits this game much better. You can choose from four character classes. The apprentice is a mage, and a good evenly rounded choice for beginners. The Huntress is a female class who is great at long range weaponry and stunning enemies. The Squire is a knight who attacks with a sword and can blockade enemies, and the Monk is the healer who can slow down enemies.
When the first round starts, you’ll be in the “Build Phase”, and you’ll be able to build defenses and open chests for more mana to your heart’s content. Once you’ve used up all available mana on defenses, you’ll walk up to your crystal, which is what you will be defending, and start the “Combat Phase”. Once this is activated, waves of enemies will begin advancing towards your crystal in the hopes of smashing it to pieces. Hopefully, you’ve built up solid defenses and have leveled up your character a bit. If not, you’ll likely be grinding for a few hours before completing even the first levels on your own. This game is a multiplayer game through and through. It might be possible to play with one player, but it is hardly designed that way. Not only is the game much easier with a few other players, it is also much more fun. You can trade items and pets you’ve raised with other players, and invite them to your Tavern after a round, which is a bit of a Playstation Home apartment type place where other players can see your in-game trophies.There are a few different modes to round out the game’s replayability- a strategy only mode where you can’t attack on your own, a competitive mode, and a bunch of challenges.
Dungeon Defenders is a very fun co-op experience, but it is not a perfect experience. The game’s tutorial is extremely long, and the game’s rules are difficult to follow if you’ve never played a game such as this before. Even after watching the tutorial, you’ll be a bit lost until you figure the finer points out on your own. The game certainly tries to throw as many styles of gameplay into the mix as possible, but perhaps the game would have been better suited to fixating on only a select few genres and polishing those to a mirror sheen.
Despite a few nitpicks and a long learning curve, Dungeon Defenders is a great co-op experience, with a lot of game for your money. The game has a Platinum trophy on Playstation 3, which is a great value for costing only $14.99 (or 1200 Microsoft Points).