Dungeon Defenders does one thing right straight from the very beginning. It combines the awe of fantasy games, such as the look and feel of World of Warcraft, and the likes of the best Tower Defense games. It combines the two with such beauty.
A tower defense game is guarding a base with towers, using strategy to keep them up and running to protect your base. Like most tower defense games, Dungeon Defenders breaks down the gameplay into two stages: the setup phase and the attack phase. During the setup phase, the player takes control of a character, one of four different types, and goes out to set up structures to protect the valuable crystal everyone wants. Signs tell you how many enemies there are going to be, which helps greatly when planning the attacks. If the player loses the crystal, it's game over. While players can heal themselves and repair towers, healing the crystal is almost a no go so be careful.
In the second phase, the enemies are released. This is where the game completely flips onto its head. Unlike most tower defense games, this one allows the player to keep control of the character and unleash hell on the enemies. It allows such decisions as saving the towers to help the defense or going all out on the enemy. One wrong move, and it could be game over.
Between waves, the player can switch between classes. There is the Apprentice, who cases offensive spells from a distance and more. There is also the Squire, who attacks with swords and traps. If that doesn't work out, one could always become the Huntress, who is a basically a thief with traps and one wicked crossbow. The final class to pick is the Monk, who does monk stuff such as healing. Everyone loves a good Monk, right?
As each map becomes conquered, the player levels up their character, granting new abilities and gathering more health. New towers are also unlocked. The point system adds a whole new depth to tower defense games. Players can chose how they want their charector to be, and not with just a preset set of skills.
The single-player campaign is pretty decent, with 13 missions. Each mission also has its rewards, increasing its replayablity. Difficulty can also be raised, which also grants bigger and more satisfying rewards.
It's clear, however, that the primary focus of the game is co-op. Later on in the campaign, the missions become almost impossible to finish alone. However, the game does offer splitscreen co-op of up to three friends. Having friends in this game helps immensely, as everyone can be their own class with their own skills.
The graphics, which are run on Unreal, aren't the best looking, but it works. The levels are polished and the cell-shaded graphics give out the fantasy feel. The music is also great, but drags on in a few places. The voice acting could have used a little work, but it isn't too terrible.
The story is one of my biggest grips about the game. The adults leave, children unleash evil that was locked away. Blah blah blah. It was an issue for me, seeing as a story is very important to me. However, the gameplay and coop definately make up for the storyline.
Besides the story and audio, the only other thing that I didn't like was the controls. Dungeon Defenders on the iOS was perfect in terms of controls. The game actually surprised me how well it worked with just two fingers. However, with a console controller, some of the menus are just downright horrible, making navigating horrible. Plus, with the way the button scheme is, it makes finding what you want to do even worse. Also, while you can rotate the camera around your character horizontally, the only control you have over its vertical alignment is to choose from several zoom levels. Also, what was up with the auto-tragetting? Seeing as this is now on consoles and pc, that feature should be improved or even removed. With a huge line of enemies heading my way, I want to be able to chose which one i want to take out. I don't want to kill five bad guys to get to the big guy, who has already made it past everything and is on a crash course for my crystal!
While the game did have a few flaws, it's a great example of how far the tower-defense genre can go. With great gameplay mechanics, solid graphics, and co-op that will entertain for days, it's a buy in my book.
It also makes for a good substitute until Plants vs. Zombies 2 arrives.