Dungeon Defenders is a game that has brought a tear to my eye. Not only do I have a game I can play with my family, but I also have a game that is fun to play with my family. Put simply, it’s a game that can be played with anyone and everyone, and an enjoyable one at that.
It’s quite rare for a game to come out that has its eyes set on being a co-op experience. It’s even rarer for that vision to be well executed. Where most games will make people play on one screen (this is relatively unacceptable unless I’m playing Mario Party or Super Smash Bros), Dungeon Defenders splits the screen. Imagine that, a game that splits the screen so that players aren’t trapped in single screen-stretch hell.
I would also like to applaud the game for not forcing me to own four Xbox 360s before I could play co-op. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and give Dungeon Defenders the “Least Likely To Be A Dumb-Ass” award for being a couch co-op game. Before it came out, I was beginning to wonder why I even had four controllers anymore.
Now that the introduction is out of the way, let’s look at how the game performs.
For lack of better descriptors, Dungeon Defenders is simply beautiful. It’s a game which seemingly won’t age. Why won’t Dungeon Defenders age? Because it’s done in a way similar to Team Fortress 2 -that being cartoon over realism. The characters aren’t designed to look as realistic as graphics can offer at the time. Doing so would be suicide for anything trying to retain longevity. Rather, the graphics are an abstract art-style, taking on a smooth appearance, rather than a serious attempt at realism. Because of this, they will look a lot better in ten years than the shiniest thing that came out at the time.
Following the graphics comes the sound. To be honest, it’s nothing special. Really, it’s not great, but it gets the job done. Nothing stands out, but it’s not one of those games that blasts the same one track so many times that players end up wanting to fill their ears with cotton and gum-drops to block out the sound. Besides, I doubt half the gamers out there actually listen to the original score anymore. Most of them are probably too busy blasting Blutengel from their Xbox’s hard-drive to realize a game has a background score.
Next up, the controls.
I originally played Dungeon Defenders on the PC and found the controls to run quite smoothly. This scared me as literally anything that’s come out on PC with decent controls has failed horribly on the consoles (this logic can and usually does apply when a console game ends up on the PC too. Shooters are the only exception). Oddly enough, I soon discovered that they worked well in both versions of the game. Regardless of whether I was playing it on the Xbox 360 or the PC, I found the controls to be accessible and easy to get a hold of. There also wasn’t any “Easy to learn, hard to master” crap with the controls either. Once you knew what you were doing, everything flowed smoothly.
Perhaps the thing that makes this game shine like a beacon of awesome among the fool’s gold idols of other multiplayer games is the accessibility it comes with. Originally, I got this game for PC and didn’t necessarily feel a large urge to throw 15 dollars at XBLA. Instead, I plugged an HDMI cable into my PC, hooked it to my TV, plugged three USB Xbox controllers into it and played it that way. I seriously don’t know if I was supposed to be able to do it, but it was awesome.
Put simply, this game wants you to play with other people, and for good reason. Every character is designed to compliment the others in one way or another. An example of this is a combination I found during game-play. What my team and myself would do is set up an intricate line of towers. I would use the mage to set up a tower that would damage enemies. My friend, the knight, would then stack a defensive structure to absorb damage for the tower. Finally, our monk would drop a slow aura that would put enemies at a crawl so that my tower could break them to pieces. It was a beautiful thing to watch.
Dungeon Defenders is a game people just can’t go wrong playing. It’s on any console that doesn’t have a phallic name and literally screams “play me with your friends.” It’s also easy enough for people who are new games to get a nice impression while being challenging enough to keep hardcore gamers enthralled. If you have fifteen dollars to spare then I suggest you go buy this game. I personally guarantee that this game won’t disappoint you. I’m so sure of how amazing it is, that I will make a deal with our readers. Anyone who feels like this game isn’t a great co-op game should tell me. For every complaint I get, I will personally kick my editor in the nuts as my way of apologizing.
Dungeon Defenders was released on October 18, 2011. This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.