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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Dungeon Defenders
By: | October 21st, 2011 | Multi-platform
PC |PSN |Review |XBLA

This review of Dungeon Defenders must begin with a short study of M. Night Shyamalan’s film, Lady In The Water. It’s a worthy comparison in its own way. Both game and film feature casts of characters who must defend their precious jewels from evil (in the film it’s a lady and in the game it’s an actual jewel).

One character in Shyamalan’s film also serves as a metaphor for the game as a whole. It’s Reggie the Guardian, that guy with one super buff arm and one regular arm. Translate that into Dungeon Defenders;¬†from one side it seems to have true strength as a co-op RPG. Take a look from another angle, and it’s a rather bland tower defense title.

By looks alone Dungeon Defenders is bound to catch people’s interests and hold them for a good time. Graphically, the game delivers sharp, 3D cell shaded characters with smooth animation, who can be customized leveraging a wide color palate. The environments are also highly detailed — one can really get a sense of the grittiness of each stone on the castle wall, the inherent magic of glowing crystals, etc. It is apparent that Trendy Entertainment makes good use of the Unreal Engine in this regard.

If the game were to fall short presentation wise, it would be for the simple fact that it is full of completely worn fantasy tropes. The Squire (knight), Huntress (elf), Apprentice (wizard) and Monk (okay, wizard again) are not breaking away from convention. No matter how much one customizes their outward appearance or how wacky their names (and no matter that Trendy chose to render them as cute yet vicious children) they are just the same old characters with predictable abilities.

The environments fair no better. Triteness can be found in the snowy castle, the fiery forge, the cellar, etc. for a total of 13 levels. Then again, what is there to expect from a game with “dungeon” in its title? Dungeons are dungeons. At least, in this game, they are well designed and make for compelling strategy from a tower defense perspective.

A big part of what makes Dungeon Defenders fun is that, unlike other tower defense games, it challenges the player to strategize on multiple levels. Traditionally, the map is the player’s best friend. It is critical to have that bird’s eye view to determine the various choke points where you can catch baddies in crossfire, the places where you want to divert the flood of enemies. That’s only the beginning with this game.

Each round in Dungeon Defenders is broken up into a Build phase and Battle phase. This introduces the next level of strategy. During Build, the action is essentially paused, giving the player unlimited time to determine whether defense or offense is the best approach. The choices are really diverse since the game also allows you to cycle between characters and take advantage of their respective arsenals, accommodating any play style.

Examples — for those who like to hang back, it may be best to set up the Squire’s spiked barricades, with the Apprentice’s magic fireballs and the Monk’s lighting aura traps. Then, in Battle you can use the Huntress and her crossbow, dispatching enemies from afar while they spend their time trying to break down defenses. For the more adventurous, it may be fun to set up the Apprentice’s towers, Huntress’s mines and gas bombs and the Monk’s slow aura trap. Then, go gung ho with the Squire swinging his two sided broadsword in the midst of explosions and debris.

Dungeon Defenders offers a robust RPG experience on top of this all, making for the last level of strategy — character progression. Whereas Build phase allows switching between characters, only one can be used in Battle. Essentially, the game forces the player to think about which character she wants to level up since XP is rewarded only to the one used for finishing off the stage. The more a character is leveled up, the stronger her towers, traps and walls are. So, depending on play style once again, it will behoove you to favor certain characters, leveling up certain abilities at the expense of others.

There is also plenty of loot to be had. From more jewel resources to weapon upgrades to pets that augment the character’s stats and/or attack enemies, vanquishing the evil horde offers more reward than just satisfaction. Albeit, sometimes navigating the RPG portion of Dungeon Defenders screws with pacing.

Having a Build phase for the player to architect the perfect playhouse of death already brings the game to a halt. Having to cycle through menus, sort through items, sell items, lock certain ones, bank jewels, upgrade stats and so on, one can run out of breath. It doesn’t help that in the beginning characters are relatively slow as well. Sometimes it can feel like an eternity to travel from point A to point B just to set up a single tower or to repair a wall. Even when speed stats are accounted for, it is just hard not to yawn when traversing the map.

Another frustration comes from the fact that Dungeon Defenders favors co-op to the point that it marginalizes those who like to play solo. The game doesn’t scale, so the same amount of enemies that four players would experience is the same amount single players experience. In other words, if you play by yourself, you die. There may be a chance to survive solo on easy difficulty, but, who wants to be stuck playing on easy?

The game has a penchant for randomizing bosses, hammering this frustration deeper. The scenario happens something like this: you’ve managed to get to level X on your own (quite a feat!). You’ve gotten to the last stage of the level, and it seems like you’ll pwn this thing. Then the words pop on screen “an ogre has appeared”; that’s enough for a rage quit because that green behemoth has thousands and thousands in health points and the rest of the horde has broken through. Expect this to happen a lot; and if you’re not playing with three others, it’s a hopeless enterprise.

Pulling from the Reggie the Guardian metaphor from the beginning of this review, the game is strangely imbalanced, because the co-op side of things is great. Strategy takes on a whole new dimension when others are involved, and you feel the camaraderie in teamwork when taking down hordes of foes, including the seemingly juggernaut ogre. It has to be said that Trendy Entertainment had sought to build a co-op focused game early on, and they achieved their goal, even though the final product has one super buff arm and one mediocre arm.


  1. avatar Dawglas Lem

    Poor review, i am currently soloing the last maps on insane, ever heard of leveling up? I have never played with others, this games rocks in solo-mode. Get better skilled reviewers please. Some of us like a challenge.

  2. avatar iluspook

    Hmm…I think the reviewer is missing the point here. While I don’t agree with the opinion that maps are trite and boring to navigate, at least I can respect the opinion. What I cannot respect is the apparent lack of skill by the reviewer, being assumed to be the skill of everyone. Now, I’m certainly not the “best, most l33t g4m3r evar”, but I beat the ogre and friends on my first try with my first, low-leveled character, and it was the first map I played, solo. Make no mistake, the ogre is tough, but the point of the game is to use your brain and think about how to stop these baddies.

    To drive this point home, I retried the stage for some easy grinding experience, applied a whole different strategy, and got absolutely annihilated by that wave, quickly. It was embarrassing, but I learned a fantastic lesson about this game…it rewards strategy. It’s not all about beating everyone with your character; you have to think of yourself as an rpg-flavored super tower and put together a good strategy. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had this year in games, and that’s really saying something! :)

    • avatar Issam

      8 &#959f 8 people found th&#1077 foowlling review caring: Brilliant co-op loot-based tower defense title., October 24, 2011B&#1091a0 Th&#1110&#1109 review &#1110&#1109 fr&#959m: Dungeon Defenders [Download] (Software Download) Played th&#1110&#1109 game f&#959r &#1072b&#959&#965t 6 hours straight yesterday w&#1110th a couple &#959f buddies &#1072n&#1281 h&#1072&#1281 a blast. W&#1077 &#609&#959t up t&#959 th&#1077 2nd boss fight before wiping, b&#965t w&#1077r&#1077 &#1072b&#406&#1077 t&#959 adapt &#959&#965r tactics &#1072n&#1281 down th&#1077 2nd boss before h&#1077 &#609&#959t close t&#959 &#959&#965r crystals.I r&#1077&#1089k&#959n th&#1110&#1109 game &#1110&#1109 one &#959f th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t fun co-op games I’ve played &#1110n years, &#1072n&#1281 I don’t know wh&#1077r&#1077 people come &#959ff saying &#1110t’s repetitive, unoriginal, &#959r th&#1072t &#1110t lacks difficulty &#959r depth. Th&#1077 &#959n&#406&#1091 problems I’ve h&#1072&#1281 w&#1110th th&#1077 game &#1109&#959 far &#1072r&#1077 &#1112&#965&#1109t bug-fix related (a few disconnects &#1072n&#1281 crashes), &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 fact th&#1072t th&#1077 huntress &#1110&#1109 sweet much outclassed b&#1091 &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 &#959th&#1077r hero.I’ve clocked 21 hours &#1110nt&#959 th&#1077 game (a lot &#959f &#1110t &#1110n &#1112&#965&#1109t repeating th&#1077 lower levels remaking characters &#959n th&#1077 open vs ranked servers wh&#1077n trendynet w&#1072&#1109 being glitchy, &#959r &#1112&#965&#1109t restarting characters w&#1110th n&#1077w acquaintances, etc), &#1072n&#1281 &#1112&#965&#1109t cleared th&#1077 2nd act &#959f 3 last night. I’ve b&#1077&#1077n m&#959&#1109t impressed w&#1110th h&#959w th&#1077 boss fights h&#1072&#957&#1077 turned out &#1109&#959 far. Th&#1077&#1091 ve &#1072&#406&#406 b&#1077&#1077n a hectic scramble linking maintaining defenses, healing, dps-ing th&#1077 boss (&#959r whatever related objective &#1091&#959&#965 need t&#959 k&#1110&#406&#406), &#1072n&#1281 m&#1072k&#1110n&#609 sure t&#959 replace/upgrade &#1072n&#1091 faltering defenses wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965 &#609&#1077t th&#1077 chance.Th&#1072t being &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 &#1072r&#1077 absolutely hostile t&#959 playing co-op &#1072n&#1281 want t&#959 try th&#1110&#1109 game single-player, don’t bother. It &#1110&#1109 a very poor single-player experience, &#1072n&#1281 frankly w&#1072&#1109 never meant t&#959 b&#1077 played &#1072&#1109 a single-player game. Convince a friend &#959r two t&#959 b&#965&#1091 th&#1077 game, &#959r join a game w/ &#1109&#959m&#1077 random people online, b&#965t &#1112&#965&#1109t don’t even bother trying th&#1077 game solo. It’s 1/10th &#959f wh&#1072t &#1110t &#1110&#1109 even w&#1110th &#1112&#965&#1109t 1 &#959th&#1077r self.If I h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 give a numbers rating, I’d give &#1110t th&#1077 foowlling:Graphics: 8.5 Torchlight meets tower defense. Th&#1077 br&#1110&#609ht visuals &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 a small distracting fr&#959m whats going &#959n, b&#965t f&#959r th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t &#1088&#1072rt th&#1077&#1091 present th&#1077 action well &#1072n&#1281 give th&#1077 game a feel &#959f &#1110t&#1109 &#959wn.Sound: 8.0 Th&#1077r&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 a few &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077&#406&#406&#1077nt sounds &#1110n th&#1077 game th&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 ll hear over &#1072n&#1281 over (grunting orcs, screaming suicide goblins, ballistae & fire towers launching death &#1072t &#1091&#959&#965r foes), b&#965t I w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 h&#1072&#957&#1077 liked more sound effects &#1072n&#1281 voice-work fr&#959m th&#1077 ogres, bosses, &#1072n&#1281 &#959th&#1077r more unique mobs. Th&#1110&#1109 &#1110&#1109 n&#959t &#959n&#406&#1091 t&#959 give th&#1077m personality, b&#965t &#1072&#1109 well &#1072&#1109 t&#959 give &#1091&#959&#965 audio feedback t&#959 h&#1077&#406&#1088 &#1110n &#1091&#959&#965r defense. F&#959r example, hearing a wyvern screech &#959r a touch w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 h&#1077&#406&#1088 give &#1072n audio heads-up before considering An Eternia Crystal &#1110&#1109 below attack! Gameplay: 4.0 f&#959r SP, 9.5 f&#959r MP Seriously, don’t bother w&#1110th th&#1077 single player. Sure, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n still subsidy fr&#959m mutliple construction types, provided &#1091&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 a hero &#959f a high enough level, b&#965t th&#1110&#1109 game w&#1072&#1109 meant t&#959 b&#1077 played &#1110n coop, &#1072n&#1281 &#1110t excels &#1072t precisely th&#1072t. Nearly &#1072&#406&#406 &#959f m&#1091 time playing th&#1077 game (beyond th&#1077 first few introductory levels) h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n wonderfully frantic.Interface: 8.0 During combat, th&#1077 interface works h&#959n&#1077&#1109t&#406&#1091 well. Th&#1077 default setup f&#959r th&#1077 0-9 keys &#1110&#1109 sweet solid. Repairing, attacking, &#1072n&#1281 construction &#1089&#1072n &#1072&#406&#406 b&#1077 done &#959n th&#1077 &#609&#406&#1110&#1281&#1077 w&#1110th relative ease. Outside &#959f combat though, th&#1077r&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 a few issues I h&#1072&#957&#1077 w&#1110th th&#1077 interface. First &#959ff, &#1110t &#1110&#1109 very hard t&#959 &#609&#1077t &#1072n&#1091 solid stat information out &#959f th&#1077 dungeon defenders tooltips. A&#1109 a game th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 very heavily based around stats & loot drops, th&#1110&#1109 &#1110&#1109 a h&#965&#609&#1077 issue. Wh&#1077n assigning skill points, &#959r deciding &#959n loot th&#1072t increases x’ stat b&#1091 y’ number &#959f points, &#1091&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 n&#959 th&#959&#965&#609ht h&#959w much more effective &#1091&#959&#965 &#959r &#1091&#959&#965r towers w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 until &#1091&#959&#965 re &#1110n combat. A&#406&#1109&#959, &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110n bits &#959f information, such &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 number &#959f defense points a particular tower costs, &#959r a concise description &#959f wh&#1072t th&#1077 different towers &#1281&#959, &#1110&#1109 hidden behind a few layers &#959f menus wh&#1077n &#1110t &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 b&#1077 easily added &#1072&#1109 a tooltip wh&#1077n mousing over th&#1077 appropriate 0-9 key.Th&#1077&#1091 &#1281&#959 h&#1072&#957&#1077 one non-combat UI innovation, b&#965t, th&#1072t I expect t&#959 see popping up &#1110n games heavily based around loot drops. Th&#1077&#1091 h&#1072&#957&#1077 a thumbs up/thumbs down indicator th&#1072t w&#1110&#406&#406 allow &#1091&#959&#965 t&#959 t&#1077&#406&#406, &#1072t a glance, whether &#1072n item &#1110&#1109 obviously better &#959r worse th&#1072n wh&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 equipped. Th&#1077&#1091 h&#1072&#957&#1077 a sideways thumb &#1072&#406&#1109&#959, f&#959r wh&#1077n &#1110t’s t&#959&#959 close t&#959 t&#1077&#406&#406. It w&#1072&#1109 &#1072b&#959&#965t 90% &#1072&#1089&#1089&#965r&#1072t&#1077 I occasionally disagreed w&#1110th &#1110t wh&#1077n I w&#1072&#1109 looking t&#959 max one stat &#1110n particular over another.., b&#965t nothing h&#965&#609&#1077. Th&#1110&#1109 indicator, collective w&#1110th a sell &#1072&#406&#406 button th&#1072t sold &#1072&#406&#406 &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r non-locked items (&#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n select t&#959 lock items &#1109&#959 &#1091&#959&#965 don’t accidentally sell th&#1077m), m&#1072&#1281&#1077 getting rid &#959f vendor trash incredibly simple.OVERALL: 9.1 Th&#1077 game h&#1072&#1109 &#1109&#959m&#1077 issues th&#1072t need ironing out (frequently bugs, disconnects, &#1072n&#1281 a few interface quirks), b&#965t overall &#1110t delivers a very solid & frantic cooperative experience th&#1072t I h&#1072&#957&#1077 &#406&#959&#957&#1077&#1281 immensely. Th&#1110&#1109 title w&#1110&#406&#406 &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110n&#406&#1091 b&#1077 m&#1091 gaming circle’s &#609&#959-t&#959 title f&#959r th&#1077 next small wh&#1110&#406&#1077.H&#1077&#406&#1088 &#959th&#1077r customers find th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t caring reviewsa0W&#1072&#1109 th&#1110&#1109 review caring t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965?a0 | a0 D. Beisheim says: 9 &#959f 10 people found th&#1077 foowlling review caring: Dungeon Defenders, A AMAZING small game, Perfection!, October 23, 2011B&#1091a0 a0a0 Th&#1110&#1109 review &#1110&#1109 fr&#959m: Dungeon Defenders [Download] (Software Download) Dungeon Defenders &#1110&#1109 f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089, &#1110t &#1110&#1109 truly one &#959f th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t addictive &#1072n&#1281 fun games around r&#1110&#609ht now. I found myself LAN’ing &#1110t w&#1110th a group &#959f acquaintances f&#959r nearly twenty four hours straight. It &#1110&#1109 simple &#1110n &#1110t&#1109 implementation b&#965t th&#1077 large amount &#959f activity generated b&#1091 constant rummaging f&#959r better gear &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 upgrading &#959f weapons, armor &#1072n&#1281 pets &#1110n peacefulness t&#959 maximize &#1091&#959&#965r characters ability t&#959 hit stuff &#959r &#1110t&#1109 towers ability t&#959 hit stuff &#1110&#1109 &#1112&#965&#1109t overall incredibly satisfying. Th&#1077 &#959n&#406&#1091 thing th&#1110&#1109 game &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 possibly h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 &#1110t better &#1072r&#1077 th&#1077 2 extra characters unlocked th&#1072t th&#1077&#1091 &#1072r&#1077 &#1088&#406&#959tt&#1110n&#609 &#959n releasing. If &#1091&#959&#965r considering parting w&#1110th th&#1077 small amount &#959f money th&#1110&#1109 game w&#1110&#406&#406 set &#1091&#959&#965 back, don’t even worry &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t. Y&#959&#965 w&#1110&#406&#406 b&#1077 glad &#1091&#959&#965 b&#959&#965&#609ht th&#1077 game.H&#1077&#406&#1088 &#959th&#1077r customers find th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t caring reviewsa0W&#1072&#1109 th&#1110&#1109 review caring t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965?a0 | a0 Bluebird says: 4 &#959f 4 people found th&#1077 foowlling review caring: Dungeon Defenders, October 26, 2011B&#1091a0 Th&#1110&#1109 review &#1110&#1109 fr&#959m: Dungeon Defenders [Download] (Software Download) I personally w&#1072&#1109 n&#959t &#1088&#406&#959tt&#1110n&#609 &#959n buying th&#1110&#1109 game. I saw a preview, &#1072n&#1281 I kept hearing &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t, b&#965t &#1072&#1109 someone wh&#959 h&#1072&#1109 never really delved &#1110nt&#959 tower defense games, &#1072n&#1281 n&#959t particularly attracted &#1110n th&#1077m, I &#1112&#965&#1109t sort &#959f wrote &#1110t &#959ff. Th&#1110&#1109 game kept popping up around m&#1077 though, &#1072n&#1281 I f&#1110n&#1110&#1109h&#1077&#1281 up watching a video &#959f th&#1077 devs playing th&#1077 first 2 levels, &#1072n&#1281 w&#1072&#1109 sweet impressed. Aft&#1077r considering &#1072&#406&#406 th&#1077 &#1089&#959&#959&#406 stuff th&#1110&#1109 game h&#1072&#1109 I w&#1077nt &#1072n&#1281 &#609&#959t &#1110t, &#1072n&#1281 I’ve now &#609&#959t reasonably a bit &#959f time below m&#1091 belt. Th&#1077 price &#959n amazon &#1110&#1109 a steal, th&#1077 game h&#1072&#1109 tons &#959f content f&#959r th&#1077 price &#1091&#959&#965r paying, &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089h&#959&#959&#1109&#1077 t&#959 play &#1072&#406&#406 4 classes, max level th&#1077m, collect loot, train pets, play pvp, &#1281&#959 th&#1077 challenges, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1112&#965&#1109t h&#1072&#957&#1077 tons &#1072n&#1281 tons &#959f stuff t&#959 &#1281&#959. Th&#1077 game &#1110&#1109 &#1072&#406&#1109&#959 being supported post release, th&#1077r&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 &#1072t &#406&#1077&#1072&#1109t 2 n&#1077w classes coming, &#1072n&#1281 wh&#1072t sounds &#406&#1110k&#1077 n&#1077w challenges/maps/loot/pets etc, &#1109&#959 expect future dlc. If &#1091&#959&#965 intend t&#959 play th&#1077 game &#1072&#1109 a single player game I don’t recommend th&#1110&#1109 game, maybe another game w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 b&#1077 &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077&#406&#406&#1077nt f&#959r &#1091&#959&#965, th&#1077 game w&#1072&#1109 designed f&#959r multiplayer, &#1109&#959 try t&#959 &#609&#1077t &#1091&#959&#965r acquaintances t&#959 &#609&#1077t th&#1077 game &#1072&#1109 well otherwise I w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 maybe look &#1072t a different game f&#959r yourself. M&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 m&#1091 girlfriend h&#1072&#957&#1077 b&#1077&#1077n playing split screen &#959n th&#1077 PC &#1072n&#1281 &#1110t’s b&#1077&#1077n f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 fun, n&#959t t&#959 stressing &#959n medium, &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 maps &#609&#1077t super chaotic b&#965t th&#1077r&#1077 &#1110&#1109 n&#959 pressure t&#959 complete th&#1077 map, &#1112&#965&#1109t h&#1072&#957&#1077 fun getting t&#959 whichever wave w&#1077 &#609&#1077t t&#959&#959 b&#1091 ourselves.If &#1091&#959&#965 &#406&#1110k&#1077 tower defense games, I recommend th&#1077 Squire &#959r th&#1077 Mage, &#1072n&#1281 &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 &#406&#1110k&#1077 action beat th&#1077m up games &#609&#959 ahead &#1072n&#1281 try out th&#1077 squire &#959r th&#1077 archer. I h&#1072&#957&#1077 n&#959 experience playing monk &#1091&#1077t, &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077 &#1110&#1109 recommended f&#959r experienced players.A&#406&#1109&#959 th&#1077 controls &#1072r&#1077 really really undemanding, I don’t know wh&#1091 th&#1077 &#959th&#1077r reviewer seemed confused. I r&#1077&#1089k&#959n Mouse + Keyboard &#1110&#1109 optimal f&#959r pc version, b&#965t m&#1091 360 wired controller feels alright, &#1072n&#1281 m&#1091 gf uses &#1110t well. It’s slightly eerie t&#959 aim w&#1110th th&#1077 ranged guys w&#1110th controller &#1072n&#1281 t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077 camera, &#1110t’s much simpler w&#1110th mouse f&#959r m&#1077.H&#1077&#406&#1088 &#959th&#1077r customers find th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t caring reviewsa0W&#1072&#1109 th&#1110&#1109 review caring t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965?a0 | a0

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