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Guest Review: Dungeon Defenders – Innovation and Originality

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Game Developers take note: Dungeon Defenders is a diamond in a sea of bronze. This game is innovation and creativity incarnate.

Release Date: 08/19/2011

Released For:PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS

System Played On: PS3

Hours Played: 30

Single Player Progress: Completed the main story

Dungeon Defenders is a tower defense action rpg. It is a tower defense game as you must protect a “base” in this case a crystal. It is an action game as you fight hordes of enemies trying to get to the crystal, and it is an rpg because there is a large amount of character, weapon and armor customization. Now that I just described what the game is and how it is classified I will go on to say this is one of my favorite games. It is wonderfully developed and has a very appealing look. The title of this review is called Innovation and Originality because Dungeon Defenders will do something that gamers have been pining for, cross platform play. Yes, you will be able to play with people on the PC even though they may be on the PS3. That covers the innovation. Now for the originality. Games these days have very little originality when it comes to gameplay. Dungeon Defenders is a fantastic spin on the tower defense genre.

The story goes like this, you take control of one of four young warriors. They are left in charge while the older heroes are away on “business”. While the castle is under watch of these apprentices they knock over a crystal that housed an evil called, “The Old Ones”. Now the apprentices must defend their home from these monsters.

Here comes one of the juicy parts, the gameplay. So this is a mix of action and tower defense. You, the player, must protect the Eternia Crystal from being destroyed by the monsters that show up wave after wave. To place towers you must collect mana dropped from enemies and collected from chests. At a low level you cannot carry much mana. You get just enough to build your very first tower. As your character level progresses you are allotted more space for mana. Tower defense is only half the fun. As an added bonus you can also join in the fight and defeat the enemies yourself. This is a great way to take the burden off of your towers to preserve their HP. Mana also disappears after a short amount of time. So jumping into a horde to collect the mana is risky, but essential. Mana is used to upgrade towers or repair them.

Every character has their own niche that make them unique. Essentially there are two types, support and offense. The Squire (Knight) and Apprentice (Mage) are the offensive classes focusing on brute force in combat with powerful damaging towers. The Squire has amazing barricades that do damage when attacked. The Apprentice has towers that are capable of hitting large groups of enemies and halting magic infused enemies in their tracks.The game has such perfect synergy for being multiplayer being just a brute attacker is not good enough. Having a solid support character is the true way to win. Sure you could be the Squire and kill everything on one side, but that leaves the other totally open. The later levels become harder and harder and are clearly meant for a max party of 4. The Monk and Huntress are the two support classes and this game would not function without them.

Everything about Dungeon Defenders relies on strategy and communication so it is best played with friends and a way to communicate when not in the same room. There is a large difficulty spike, but then it drops for a few levels. On the last level it hits ATLUS status and you spend more time strategizing than actually playing. This can be just as fun which is something definitely worth acknowledging.

The second aspect of the game is the customization. While the look of your character does not change with new armor, the weapon does. The weapons look cool. Some glow with magic, others are so massive they make William Wallace jealous and inferior. Every weapon has their own buffs and debuffs. Using your stockpiled mana to purchase items and upgrades for your weapons and armor quickly becomes a farming mission. Returning to a older level and beasting it by yourself feels fantastic and you reap the benefits of copious amounts of mana. One useful item are the pets. The pets hover around your body and some kick enemies away, and others heal you and your towers. If you have the Steam version you have access to TF pets, the Medic, Heavy, Engineer and Pyro are all available as pets. With enough time and effort you can unlock yourself as a pet. They are the most powerful and are proof you have done nearly everything in the game.

After hours of gameplay I would consider I had the most fun being the Squire. It is satisfying jumping into a horde of 20 enemies and demolishing them. Not to mention the Harpoon Turrets are one of the best in the game.

The music is quirky, but during intense battles you don’t even notice it. You will be too busy focusing on not dying and protecting your crystal because you decided to “turtle up”. The art style is nice. The watercolor, cell shaded graphics are gorgeous to look at. The environments are very unique as well and no two levels are the same. Next to the gameplay, the art style is one of the best aspects of the game.

Not only is this game original in terms of gameplay but there is one aspect I wanted to make a special mention to. Dungeon Defenders will feature cross platform play (minus the 360 because Microsoft has some rule about not allowing cross platform play). At GDC this feature was displayed featuring the iOS, PS3, PC and Android. This is something multiplayer gaming has been waiting for. This is the start of something great.

Dungeon Defenders is a fun, creative, innovative game. It is even more fun when played with friends. Every character is unique and there are new characters planned to be released as DLC. Other plans are to include be user generated maps for the PC version. No matter what medium you get it on, you will get an amazing experience. The fusion of Action/Tower Defense is balanced and very original. Kudos Trendy Entertainment, you get a special place in my heart for creating something no one else has done. For $15 USD you are getting hours of fun, with more to come. This is one deal you do not want to pass up.

About Zach Martinez

Freelancer here at Armed Gamer, North American Video Game Correspondent for Following the Nerd, and a regular on Examiner.com, Zach has made somewhat of a name for himself at the age of 23. He has been writing professionally for just over 5 years now. He doesn't care about resolution or frames per second, he cares about what matters most, the games. You can reach reach him directly at zach.martinez09395@yahoo.com.

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